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The head of the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is shown torn down following a demonstration in Montreal on Aug. 29, 2020, where they protested to defund the police with a goal to end all systemic racism within all sectors of the Canadian government.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Losing their heads

Re Statue Debate Reignited After Protesters Topple Macdonald Monument In Montreal (Aug. 31): Protesters could tear down every single statue that offends, change all the names of streets and places that offend and accomplish virtually nothing. It would not eradicate the ugly elements of Canada’s past. It would not improve the lives of racialized minorities in the present.

Racialized groups have legitimate cause in protesting their treatment in Canadian society, but the focus should be the problems of the present, of which there is no shortage. At the same time, it is important to educate Canadians about our history from the critical perspective of today.

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Jo Balet Mississauga

The toppling of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal’s Place du Canada does little to address issues of systemic racism in Canadian society. It doesn’t improve the livelihood or well-being of any minority communities living in Canada and has nothing to do with other calls for action such as police reforms.

Where would Canada be today if it were not for Macdonald? Would we be part of the United States? Would we have left the British Empire and gained our independence decades later?

So put up plaques about his role in creating the residential school system, erect new statues of Indigenous leaders and educate about the inequalities that existed and continue to exist, but leave our historic statues standing. As much as Macdonald was a villain to some, to many he is still a hero.

Dylan Gagnon Ottawa

The institution Speakers’ Corner, reserving premises in a park for debate, is one way to address public issues. It is the original safe space for all. Speakers’ Corner has even been a venue for debating anti-colonialism at various times in history.

Decapitating statues is a sure sign that people have lost their heads. Be it resolved: Topical debate is better than toppling statues.

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Howard Greenfield Montreal

I think the best way to deal with Sir John A. Macdonald statues would be to put a joke arrow through their heads. That would allow us to indicate disapproval without erasing history.

Bruce Couchman Ottawa

Retire EI

Re Tinkering With EI Leaves The Core Problems Unresolved (Opinion, Aug. 31): Hooray for Hugh Segal, a principled man and former senator. His article is spot on. Plain language and common sense. I strongly encourage Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh to collaborate on a basic (not universal) guaranteed income program for all Canadians in need. Way past time to retire employment insurance programs.

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Diane Labelle-Davey Port Credit, Ont.

Show me the money

Re Ottawa’s Spin Cycle Aside, Canada Earns Its Infamy As A Haven For Money Launderers (Report on Business, Aug. 29): Perhaps the federal government can find a lot of revenue to pay for our government programs by nailing these money launderers.

These people undermine our housing market by putting home ownership out of reach of most Canadian citizens. With the opioid crisis and the money-laundering threat to the global economic recovery, we can’t afford to let this opportunity slip by. Clearly this is one area of free-flowing cash, and cash is what we need.

Leslie Martel Mississauga

Re How Will We Pay For All These Government Programs? (Report on Business, Aug. 29): Andrew Willis asks a very pertinent question.

I believe this question should be addressed by all three major political parties, as his response comes right out of a Conservative playbook (raising OAS eligibility to 67; privatizing airports, ports, LCBO). How about eliminating tax havens and tax loopholes, raising taxes for households earning more than $200,000 and raising the goods and services tax?

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We need a more thoughtful approach that brings forward the ideas of all three political parties.

Françoise Coupal Ottawa

Collaboration works

Re Still Seeking Justice (Letters, Aug. 31): In recent discussions of mental-health crises, the premise is often that they are invariably better handled by mental-health professionals. I have been a psychiatrist for a long time, working at a community mental-health centre and a facility that manages people with more severe mental illness. I have found that the mental-health system and police work in a collaborative fashion, utilizing different expertise to manage challenging situations.

Here, we have a team that partners a psychiatric nurse with a member of the RCMP. Many situations arise unexpectedly and more mental-health staff or police officers may be needed. There are times we could collaborate more effectively, and we could better attend to personal biases in assessing people and situations. At the end of the day, I believe the most effective approach is continuous training and support for all staff involved in managing acute crises.

One thing we have learned is that systems get better and care improves when we use non-blaming approaches to break down what happened during a crisis. We should employ the same collaborative nature in partnerships between mental-health services and police, rather than painting the discussion in absolute terms.

Paul Dagg MD, FRCPC; clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia; psychiatrist, Hillside Centre; Kamloops, B.C.

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Max 8 no-brainer

Re No Green Light For Max 8 Until All Safety Concerns Addressed, Garneau Says (Aug. 29): A pretty easy call for Transport Minister Marc Garneau at this time. This same minister missed the hard call back in March, 2019, when the Max 8 fell from the sky. This was the second Max 8 to crash in a five-month period with very similar crash characteristics as was reported early in the aftermath of the second crash. The minister waited a full three days, allowing Canadians to fly on a potentially doomed aircraft. May I suggest that this recent decision is not “rocket science,” nor was the first and flawed decision to allow the Max 8 to continue flying, even for a short period.

R. A. Hornblower Sarnia, Ont.

Lunch-bag letdown?

Re Let’s Do Lunch (Aug. 29): I find it quite surprising that a newspaper that focuses so much well-informed attention on health issues would recommend including “charcuterie” containing deli meats, pepperoni sticks and salami in school lunches, when the World Health Organization in 2015 identified these meat products as carcinogens contributing to increased cancer risk. Just saying.

Paul Thiessen, MD, Vancouver

Trump’s soundtrack

Re Cohen Estate Threatens Legal Action After GOP Convention Uses Hallelujah (Aug. 31) Sad as it is, Donald Trump won’t have it hard turning to the lyrics in self-defence. As Leonard Cohen wrote and sang: “There’s a blaze of light in every word, it doesn’t matter which you heard, the holy or the broken hallelujah.”

Amy Soule Hamilton

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