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A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 22, 2016.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Next steps

Re “Why I blew the whistle on Chinese interference in Canada’s elections” (March 18): It should come as no surprise to Canadians that embassies and consulates of foreign governments throughout this country are working to promote their national interests.

After all, isn’t that what they are there for? It should also come as no surprise when those same offices celebrate and promote the achievements of Canadian citizens with an ethnic background from their countries, when they are successful in government, business, academia or the arts.

As the whistle-blower suggests, what we really need is a deeper non-partisan conversation on the limits we should place on these activities, in order to preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions and protect Canadian citizens from unwanted foreign interference.

Perhaps David Johnston will begin this national conservation and that, in itself, will be of great service.

Jamie Alley Saanich, B.C.

Doctor depression

Re “On the perpetual unhappiness of my fellow doctors” (Opinion, March 18): I would like to thank Dr. Nicholas Pimlott for his honesty. I empathize with his profession’s struggles and endurance in the face of often insurmountable obstacles.

I am one of the lucky ones. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m still here, not to write about my oncologist but my family doctor, who I have known for at least 25 years.

He takes time off to explore and restore himself. Sometimes I see a locum, but I’m okay with that as he is genuinely modelling self-care. When I need to see him, he is always present and caring.

The public should not expect all doctors to have resources to deal with trauma, addiction and other afflictions of the soul. For centuries, we have had religious organizations to help people, but non-belief and distrust has eroded this resource.

Health practitioners can’t cure everything.

Sue Butler Victoria

Having lived with a large fibroid for many years rather than undergo radical surgery, I was intrigued to read about a new treatment that avoids surgery.

My excellent family doctor sent me to a fertility gynecologist for an opinion. The specialist said he had read about the treatment and did not recommend it, as it was still being tested abroad and several deaths had been reported.

I said that was too bad, as it had seemed like a nice option. He looked at me in surprise and said, “Are you not going to look into it further?”

I said, “Why? You have answered my question.”

He said, “Generally, if patients don’t like an answer, they shop around to different doctors until they get the answer they want.”

No wonder doctors experience depression.

Diana Rowles Victoria

Nursing debt

Re “Chief nursing officer Leigh Chapman brings her outsider experience to fight for Canada’s struggling nurses” (March 18): One way to make nursing a more attractive career choice: Remove the heavy burden of student loans from nursing students.

It takes four years to train a nurse. When I was a financial-aid adviser at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, I discovered that half our nursing students were already well above the average student debt load, and accumulating more.

The federal and provincial governments have student-loan forgiveness programs for doctors and nurses who serve in public clinical settings for five years in underserved communities. Isn’t it time to declare the whole country underserved and further extend student-loan forgiveness to nurses and other health care workers?

The prospect of an education that allows someone to graduate debt free would be a powerful recruitment tool to attract young Canadians to health care careers.

Connie Gibbs Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Better way

Re “In Florida, is it better to rent a car or take the train?” (March 22): Perhaps a copy of this article could be sent to those responsible for Via Rail.

The Brightline train system is another example of a country going places where we fear to tread – and on a timely basis at that.

Joel Rubinovich Toronto

Simply speaking

Re “Euphemistically speaking, the English language risks passing away” (Opinion, March 18): Contributor Michael Enright’s brilliant and frank observations on the threats of our growing reliance on euphemisms to downplay, blunt or side-step talk on tough issues left me stupefied – oops, I mean a little “bowdlered-over.”

J. Phillip Nicholson Ottawa

Euphemistic blunting of language is often ideological. Such language is not slovenly, to use George Orwell’s word, but designed with subtlety and precision to manipulate emotion in the exercise of power.

Ryan Whyte Toronto

I have been particularly irked by the increased popularity of the terms “passing” and “passing away.”

When did that happen? When did we become so sensitive? When did we become so hushed?

Please speak plainly, I don’t need to be mollycoddled.

Rebecca Thompson Toronto

In September, 1974, I was a journalism student in my first reporting class.

Our first assignment was to write the obituary of the student seated beside us. As the daughter of a weekly newspaper publisher, I took this to be about as easy as they come and dutifully pecked out on my Underwood typewriter: “The long-time Spencerville resident passed away peacefully on Saturday in her sleep.”

I smugly submitted my copy, only to be told very brusquely by my instructor that “passed away is just a nice way of saying died. Say died.”

As far as I know, my classmate is still alive and passing her time well. I’m pretty sure the instructor died.

Deborah Allan Toronto


Re “The backlash against drag artists is unfair – but it’s no mystery why it’s happening” (Opinion, March 18): One of the greatest services in memory for me was on a Pride Sunday, when a congregant offered a drag queen performance. The online views were through the roof that day.

Their parents were filled with joy knowing that their child could joyfully reflect this part of who they were in a sanctuary, and be welcomed and affirmed for belonging by a cheering congregation.

John Pentland Reverend, Hillhurst United Church; Calgary

To all the religious conservatives who believe that what a person wears is the root of evil, I ask: What would Jesus wear?

A simple but elegant caftan with matching open-toed sandals.

Norman Rosencwaig Toronto

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