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Dec. 14: Glass half … something, in Alabama. Plus other letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Glass half … something

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Re Democrats Wrest Senate Seat From GOP In Tight Alabama Race (Dec. 13): As a 13-year-old in 1963, I remember watching the news with my parents and seeing Bull Connor set dogs on African-Americans for daring to march to sit at a lunch counter; earlier that year, I recall hearing Alabama Governor George Wallace shout: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

Alabama always struck me as Ground Zero for ignorance and hatred. I fully expected Roy Moore to be elected to the Senate. What a wonderful surprise then that Doug Jones won.

It is truly startling, in the Trump and Bannon era, to see the arc of Martin Luther King's "moral universe" finally bend toward justice.

Harry Oswin, Muskoka, Ont.

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In a glass-half-full versus a glass-half-empty universe, happy as I am to see the Democrats keep an "anti-gay, anti-Muslim former judge accused of molesting underage girls" from winning a Senate seat, I have to shake my head at the narrowness of the victory. Despite the loathsome revelations about Roy Moore, 48.7 per cent of the people who voted in Alabama were ready to make him their representative.

Constance George, Edmonton

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Judicial conflicts

Re Trudeau Names Wagner As Top Court's Chief Justice (Dec. 13): Two weeks ago, the Canadian Judicial Council dismissed a 2015 Conflict of Interest complaint against Justice Vic Toews of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench. It was filed by no less than the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of Canada, who found that Mr. Toews violated the Conflict of Interest Act.

The CJC was created by Parliament in 1971 to oversee judicial conduct. Its members are all federally appointed chief and associate chief justices. They investigate complaints and misconduct among our judiciary. A few prominent cases make the news but otherwise their self-regulating processes rarely get press; about 95 per cent of complaints are dismissed.

The CJC's conclusion about Mr. Toews? "In the absence of any bad faith or attempt to mislead … Justice Toews's actions would not lead an informed person, considering all the circumstances, to conclude that he does not have the ability and public confidence required to discharge his duties as a judge."

If the CJC had asked even a few informed people on the street, they would have been told that actions by Mr. Toews, as a matter of the public record, do call into question his integrity and affect the public's confidence in his ability.

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With the judges judging each other, usually behind closed doors, most informed people would rightly assume that the optics are bad and that the outcome is questionable. We need a transparent public review of the CJC that is accountable to the people of Canada, not to the CJC.

Let this be a job for Richard Wagner as our next chief justice.

Leon Moryl, Winnipeg

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Site C reality

Re Power Principles (letters, Dec. 13): So the NDP is not willing to flush $2-billion already invested in Site C, and the $2-billion more it would cost to cancel it, down the drain. That would seem to be a good choice.

Since the NDP and Liberals both support Site C, what good would triggering another election do? If the Greens forced an election now, before proportional representation rules are implemented, they could end up back in the wilderness. The reality is, even politicians don't get everything they want all the time.

It's refreshing to see both the NDP and the Greens realize that.

Steen Petersen, Nanaimo, B.C.

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Psychiatric care

Re Mental-Health Patients Don't Get Timely Psychiatric Care, Study Finds (Dec. 11): Psychiatrists, like many health-care professionals, need to evolve the way they work. But studies demonstrate that patients benefit from the specialized assessments provided by psychiatrists, and that long-term treatment plans help those with severe mental illness and most at risk of suicide and other destructive behaviour.

We fix our mental-health system by allowing more psychiatrists to work in teams with other providers like psychologists and social workers. We fix it by increasing the opportunities for medical students to choose psychiatry. We fix it with better programs in our schools and by teaching better coping skills to our children and adolescents.

And, we fix our mental-health system by ensuring that when our youth are identified with mental illness that they have access to the resources and treatment they need, when and where they need it.

Our cancer-care system responds quickly in a co-ordinated way to patients with cancer. Patients with mental illness deserve the same.

Gary Chaimowitz, Desi Brownstone, co-chairs, Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists

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Manage, at home

Re How One Toronto Hospital Is Coming Back To Life To Bring Relief To Five Others (Dec. 9): I'm glad to see a mothballed hospital being put to good use as an interim facility for patients who no longer need to be in acute care, but can't manage at home.

Another solution could also help ease the problem of people blocking acute-care beds because they have nowhere to go: Change the Ontario building code.

Make it mandatory for all new, multiunit residential buildings, condo or rental, to be built so anyone of any age or ability can live there. Why should a person be confined to any institution when they could be at home – if that home were accessible?

It can cost as little as about 1 per cent more to make housing fully accessible if it is done from the design stage. How many hundreds of patients could leave hospitals and come off long-term care waiting lists if they had an accessible apartment? Why does the Ontario government not act?

Kate Chung, Toronto

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Home-front petty

Kudos to Gerard Comeau, a retiree whose beer battle is doing more to make sense of interprovincial trade foolishness than generations of politicians.

Barrie McKenna's article, Time For The Top Court To Rein In Petty Provincial Protectionism (Report on Business, Dec. 9), told the story of Mr. Comeau's fight to buy cheaper beer in Quebec and take it home to drink in New Brunswick. The case is now in the hands of the Supreme Court.

The CEO of Peller Estates Winery made more excellent points in his column, in which he pointed out the many benefits of allowing the delivery of wine for personal use (It's Not Just Beer, Comeau Case Would Reshape Canada Wineries, Report on Business, Dec. 12).

Another anomaly was in the news recently, involving a man suffering from a debilitating hearing problem in Alberta who will get no financial relief, whereas the expensive treatment he needs would be covered if he lived in Saskatchewan.

As Mr. McKenna pointed out, "Canada faces enormous trade challenges in the world. But too often, we can't get beyond petty fights on the home front."

Dave Ashby, Toronto

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