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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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Nuclear aggression

U.S. nuclear warheads, especially on America's full fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, already outnumber those of Russia and are, in fact, up-to-date (U.S. Must Grow Its Nuclear Force – Dec. 23).

It was the United States that unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and got us into a potential arms race in the first place; anyone who ever believed that the U.S.-constructed (not just "backed") European Missile Shield with its forward ends in Romania and Poland was aimed at Iran and not at Russia should give their head a shake.

The shield badly skews the nuclear balance in Europe and its presence is precisely why Russia has to upgrade, when it cannot afford it. The U.S. already is spending more on armaments, including on its nuclear force, than Russia and China put together. Someone better mute Donald Trump and his team soon or the entire world is in danger of a nuclear conflagration.

J.L. Black, former director, Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations; Barrie, Ont.

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Steel yourself

A caption accompanying a picture of a happy sailor says his ship is delivering steel to Hamilton (A Sailor's Haven For The Holidays – Dec. 23). There is a story here. What's next? Importing oil to Alberta and wheat to Saskatchewan? What does this say about the Canadian economy?

David Smith, London, Ont.

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White hat, black hat

Re N.B. Strikes Own Health Deal With Ottawa (Dec. 23): I'm sure glad that bully Stephen Harper is gone. He wouldn't even consult with the provinces and simply dictated a health-care deal to them. Justin Trudeau is very different. First, he consults with the provinces, then he dictates a deal to them – much more respectful.

Also, don't get me started on how Mr. Harper used divide-and-conquer with the provinces, pitting one against the other. Mr. Trudeau would never … umm …

Dan Petryk, Calgary

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Re Ottawa Is Selling Its Health-Care Offers With A Shell Game (Dec. 21): Campbell Clark describes what he considers a shell game being played between the federal government and the provincial governments over health-care funding. Both sides are playing a shell game – with Canadian voters and taxpayers.

Health care is totally funded by taxpayers and it matters only in terms of perception by voters which level of government collects or distributes. The tug-of-war then is between who wants to be seen more as the white-hatted provider than as the black-hatted villain who makes you pay.

When the provinces ask Ottawa to provide more money they are still nailing the taxpayer but avoid fronting themselves to their voters. Intentionally or not, the system may just be working to impose some degree of checks and balances.

Hal C. Hartmann, West Vancouver

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ABC's of reform

I learned a different lesson from Ontario's 2007 referendum on electoral reform than the province's then-minister of democratic reform, Marie Bountrogianni (Minister Monsef: Don't Make The Same Mistakes I Did – Dec. 19). Her advice is take the time to form a Citizens Assembly, educate the voters, and have a referendum.

The Ontario Citizens Assembly did an excellent job and its conclusion was MMP – mixed member proportional – a system which combines our current system for 70 per cent of the votes and a proportional system for the remaining 30 per cent.

The assembly was then effectively silenced. It was not funded to share its knowledge and rationale. Even a short summary of its report was not distributed.

The government had a referendum, but set its measure of success at an unreasonably high level, requiring 60 per cent support for change and at least 50 per cent of those in 60 per cent of the ridings to be in favour.

The lesson I learned? The Ontario process set up PR for failure.

If Justin Trudeau and Maryam Monsef were sincere in their electoral-reform promise, they would know there has been more than enough study, and that a referendum is a way to avoid governing.

Linda Silver Dranoff, Toronto

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This electoral-reform debate is going nowhere. Why would it? The issues cannot be addressed without first discussing the role of MPs in our democracy.

Proponents of change argue that it is unfair to elect a majority government with only 39 per cent of the popular vote. Maybe.

But our democracy is designed to allow voters to elect a representative from their geographical (as opposed to ideological) neighbourhood. The current system does that, with the apparent penalty to smaller parties whose support may be wide but not deep in any region.

If we choose to overturn this system, what then would be the role for our locally elected members of Parliament? Who would deal with local constituency issues? Would we even need local MPs any more (it could be argued that we don't need them now, because they are seen as just partisan voting machines anyway).

This issue is at the core of the debate – and we are not talking about it.

Mike LeMay, Ottawa

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NATO in Europe

Re Toe The Border Line (editorial, Dec. 23): The situation in the Baltics is complicated by the large ethnic-Russian populations in Estonia (25 per cent) and Latvia (26 per cent).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Baltics regained their independence but integration has not always been successful and there is considerable ethnic tension. Russians in the Baltics may not be a fifth-column threat to independence, but many do have conflicted loyalties.

Russia calls the Baltics their "near abroad," a term used with an ominous insinuation that the Baltics are nothing more than outlying Russian provinces. (It is encouraging that Russians in the Baltics know that their standard of living is immeasurably higher than what it would be in Russia.)

Today, Europe is divided, president-elect Donald Trump admires Vladimir Putin, and international attention is focused on terrorism and refugees. Uncertain geopolitics raises the threat of renewed Russian aggression. With Russia's record of military expansionism, we need a strong and determined NATO to keep peace in Europe.

Reiner Jaakson, Oakville, Ont.

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Dad's wise words

Re A Language Lost, A Culture Gained (Dec. 22): I am proud to call myself a Canadian alongside people like Catherine Little, people who believe in this country and look forward.

My dad used to say we are all immigrants to this country, that some of us came here more than 400 years ago, some of us just arrived yesterday, but that what should bind us all together is to believe in this country and to look forward. My thanks go to Ms. Little for reminding me of my father's wise words.

Andre J. Bergeron, Toronto