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Leader of the People’s Party of Canada Maxime Bernier stands with a soaked shirt after an audience member threw a glass of water at him after his speech to supporters in Fredericton, N.B., on Sept. 17, 2019.


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It’s debatable

Re People’s Party Of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier Invited To Official Leaders’ Debates (Sept. 17): Extending an invitation to a party with one seat in the House of Commons and marginal polling seems to be a dubious decision by the Leaders’ Debates Commission.

However, what concerns me most about the elevation of the People’s Party of Canada’s Maxime Bernier, in debates that could determine the next prime minister, is the rationale that he “has established a notable presence in the media.” Mr. Bernier has attracted media attention by calling a teenage climate activist with autism “mentally unstable,” and claims immigrants are a “cost” to Canada.

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First among the commission’s declared values is “the pursuit of the public interest.” Inviting Mr. Bernier to the debate gives credibility to the idea that vituperative rhetoric is an acceptable part of the discourse – a harmful development for the public interest.

All of us have a responsibility to preserve the fragile civility that keeps Canada a functioning, peaceful democracy. The commission’s seeming abdication of its responsibility does a grave disservice to Canadians.

Christopher Holcroft Montreal

Re A Debatable Decision About The Debates (Editorial, Sept. 18): It’s true that the Leaders’ Debates Commission was set up by the Liberal government, and it would have been better if it had been organized at arm’s length. But improvements are possible.

The current criteria seem reasonable. It is laudable that the commission allows applicants to supply additional supporting information, and that it conducts its own independent investigation of this information. The commission is also headed by former governor-general David Johnston, a distinguished Canadian whose record of integrity and public service is beyond reproach.

On the downside, gauging the potential for electing more than one member of a party is hardly a high bar, but you have to start somewhere. Allowing the People’s Party of Canada to participate might well split the Conservative vote and favour the Liberals, but that is hardly an argument for exclusion beforehand. Splitting the vote, anyhow, is just politics.

Mary Jane Chamberlain Toronto

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The view from east-ish

Re View From The West (Letters, Sept. 18): A letter-writer asserts that Canada’s foreign affairs team has “failed to perform to traditional standards.” These are not traditional times, what with Donald Trump, Brexit, China and other issues presenting unique challenges to every government.

He also mentions the “India affair” as bringing ridicule and embarrassment to Canadians. Really? Some badly chosen outfits, and the presence of a man with a dubious past, don’t seem to have had a significant effect on our relations with that country.

Next, we should “vote for a change” at the top to restore our economy, unity and spirit. The truth is that economies all around the world are struggling right now. And Canadians seem more proud of our nation than ever, especially given the mess south of the border.

Wendy Kerr Hadley Port Credit, Ont.

Crunching the Green platform

Re The Breathtaking Ambition Of The Greens’ Election Platform (Sept. 17): The Green Party’s plan to gradually shut down the oil sands and transition Canada’s electricity to 100-per-cent renewable sources should not lead to enormous job losses.

While Canada’s energy sector does directly employ 270,000 people and fossil fuels do account for 60 per cent of that production, according to Natural Resources Canada, it does not necessarily mean that 60 per cent of those jobs are in peril. NRC additionally goes on to find just 62,042 people are directly employed in oil and gas, while a Clean Energy Canada report from Simon Fraser University finds 59,800 people are already employed in clean-energy production.

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Presumably, shifting investments from fossil fuels to the clean-energy sector will result in the creation of far more jobs than would be destroyed.

Mark Hathaway PhD, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo

This-a-way, that-a-way

Re The Case For Alberta Oil Just Got A Lot Stronger (Sept. 18): With the recent bombing of Saudi Arabia’s oil-processing facilities, Canadians should be increasingly concerned with the security of our domestic oil supply in the face of potential global disruptions and rapid price hikes.

Rather than building a pipeline to the Pacific Ocean to export crude oil to Asia, Canadians would benefit from building a pipeline eastward to supply refineries in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, in order to reduce our reliance on foreign supplies. Our national goal should be energy independence and security, not building what looks to be the wrong pipeline to service the wrong markets at the wrong time.

Jamie Alley Victoria

A matter of life or death: Part 3

Re Let’s Not Forget About Living With Dignity (Sept. 16): I commend Tom Koch’s article. I am retired, but in Edmonton I had a similar practice to his, caring for the terminally ill and those with non-cancer chronic pain.

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Since the surge in drug overdoses in Canada, provincial medical colleges have tried to crack down on opioid prescriptions, even for patients who suffer intractable pain. Even now, 12 years after retirement, I still get calls from some of my previous patients who can no longer find a physician to prescribe much-needed opioid analgesics for them. Some are increasingly wanting to end their lives.

I would like to see more research into whether or not these changes in prescribing practices have saved any lives – or have caused any loss of life.

Helen Hays MD (retired), Black Creek, B.C.

Religious symbols: Who’s right?

Re Religious Symbols: Whose Rights? (Letters, Sept. 17): A non-religious person may overestimate the degree of choice felt by those who choose to exercise their religion. It may seem self-indulgent to wear certain symbols. It may seem, like a letter-writer feels, to be a personal imposition on others.

Religion, like the military, police or a sports team, is about duty. Not every adherent is as devout as the next, but for those who are committed, religious symbols involve as much choice as a soldier, officer or athlete has in wearing a uniform. It’s not enough to say, “wear it at home.”

So if freedom of religion is a basic Canadian value, then we may – gasp – occasionally have to endure the sight of things we don’t want to see.

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Tom Sullivan Toronto

As a business owner, I’m far more concerned with how my staff performs than whether or not they choose to wear a crucifix, turban or kippah.

Bobby Thompson Vancouver

Survey says

Re Federal Leaders Pledge More Policies Targeting Families (Sept. 18) and Election 2019: Nanos-Globe-CTV Daily Tracking Poll (Online): In Nanos Research polling often referred to in The Globe and Mail, I see that respondents are asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?”

Top two? I can’t be alone in having enough trouble coming up with a top one.

Jim Duholke North Vancouver

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