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Paramedics push a gurney towards an ambulance outside a Toronto hospital on Jan. 5, 2022.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Recent history

Re Scandals Force Ukrainian Officials To Resign (Jan. 25): A few years before Ukrainian independence, a rural bus driver told me how he had daily pocketed coins from his fare box and eventually had enough to buy a car – and bribe the official in charge of the waiting list.

“But you’re stealing from the people,” I said. His reply: “No I’m not, I’m taking from the state. There’s a difference.” That cut easily through a lot of complicated political science.

Things began changing in 2014. A culture of investigative journalism had developed with a maturing free press. The first generation of Ukrainians that did not grow up in the Soviet Union was pushing upward. The initial Ukrainian uprising was against corruption and a president who built himself a $300-million hunting lodge.

Actor Volodymyr Zelensky’s hit comedy series has many wry episodes dealing head-on with state corruption. Let’s hope that President Zelensky can also finally rid Ukraine of disabling corruption.

Greg Michalenko Waterloo, Ont.


Re Courting A Fight Over Section 33 (Editorial, Jan. 25): The Prime Minister’s movement on this issue is admirable. This appears to be a step in the right direction and we hope all parliamentarians of all political stripes will oppose pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause.

Meanwhile, English-speaking Quebeckers remain worried that the federal government is embracing proactive use of the notwithstanding clause through its proposed update of the Official Languages Act. Bill C-13 would place Quebec’s Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) – which, as amended by Bill 96, is shielded by the notwithstanding clause – within key parts of this quasi-constitutional act.

An open letter to the Attorney-General signed by more than 2,400 individuals, mostly English-speaking Quebeckers, urges parliamentarians to avoid all references to the Charter of the French Language in federal legislation.

This is a circle that should be squared.

Eva Ludvig President, Quebec Community Groups Network; Montreal

The notwithstanding clause was inserted into the Charter Of Rights and Freedoms so that government could be free from judicial intervention where it is applicable. A reference to the Supreme Court for advice on the matter appears to be precisely what it was designed to avoid.

Many, like Justice Minister David Lametti, say that the notwithstanding clause was never meant to be used pre-emptively. But where is the authority for that proposition? It seems to me that if such were the intention, the answer would have been found in the patriation debates.

Pierre Trudeau was faced with a charter that included an escape hatch, or no charter at all. The current Prime Minister is faced with another choice: Does he ask the Supreme Court whether government can pre-emptively use the clause and risk getting an answer that may further embolden provinces? Or does he leave it alone?

Howard Greenfield Montreal

Healthy debate

Re Health Reform Can’t Wait For Politicians (Jan. 24): What particularly caught my attention was an expert panel’s “strong plea for patients to have unfettered access to their health data.” Absolutely agree, but l don’t consider myself a patient.

I told my then-doctor, more than 30 years ago, that l consider myself a customer that personally pays for health care services through my taxes. As a customer, I am responsible and accountable for understanding and approving both my urgent and longer term health care needs, unless l am incapacitated.

As a customer, a doctor should not treat me like a patient, implying helplessness and having no ability to understand complex treatment options. That’s hogwash and feels paternalistic and condescending.

I see no good purpose in referring to health care customers as patients. I’m a client and l have a right to my entire medical file.

Ian Follett Calgary

Re A Health Deal Is Close, And what Follows The Money Matters More (Jan. 26): We welcome the prospect of a deal between the federal government and its provincial counterparts to increase health funding.

We have long argued the Canada Health Transfer must increase to address the nursing crisis, access to primary care and improvements in long-term care, home care and mental-health supports. Nurses insist that funding be earmarked to address these issues and progress be publicly reported.

We’re glad to hear that Doug Ford understands funding will come with strings attached. We also demand the federal government ensure that provinces uphold fully the letter and spirit of the Canada Health Act. Not even one penny should go to for-profit clinics such as those targeting hip and knee surgeries. These clinics will likely cost taxpayers more, deliver less quality and safety and erode our universally accessible health system.

Ontarians need a health system that is accountable to people and patients – not investors.

Doris Grinspun RN, PhD, O.Ont; CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario; Toronto

Re We Need Competition In Health Care (Jan. 23): Inequality of choices and results is a fact of life. Attempts to provide equity, then, deny the freedom of individuals to choose what suits their needs.

I support doctor Brian Day’s view that private health care will allow innovation and improve the Canadian health care system.

Jiti Khanna Vancouver

Many countries have private health care plans. Most of them are significantly user pay. It makes no sense to fund private care with tax dollars.

By all means have a two-tier system, but private providers should fund themselves with customers who pay for those service. Public funds for private care is an oxymoron.

Tony Burt Vancouver


Re Growing Pains (Letters, Jan. 25): Like a letter-writer, I am also from Toronto, but a very different one.

She sympathizes with homeowners who “spent their hard-working lifetimes struggling to one day afford a home among some trees, to live in a close-knit community of other homeowners.” She does not seem partial to people who do not live in prosperous detached-home neighbourhoods.

The viewpoint is understandable. Let’s just not delude ourselves that it should be seen as anything but short-sighted and self-interested.

Daniel Patrick Visconti Toronto

Gone to the dogs

Re Barking Straight To The Bank (Pursuits, Jan. 21): I’m a good sport and I’m amused to learn that I have as a namesake a mini Australian shepherd.

With his own Instagram account (@Justbeingfarley), this canine influencer has been raking it in through partnerships with various doggy brands and products.

But really, Farley. “Poop bags?” Isn’t that beneath our dignity?

Farley Helfant Toronto

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