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Waging diplomacy

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The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, and those paying the price are the millions of civilians. Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock offer an insightful perspective on the conflict (Our Moment to 'Wage Diplomacy,' Feb. 17).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to withdraw from the bombing campaign against the Islamic State, coupled with humanitarian assistance and an "open doors-open arms" policy toward Syrian refugees, have allowed Canada to brandish its strengths beyond our able military.

Canada's additional strength is its diplomatic tool box; understanding and engaging a complicated and complex part of the world is not advanced with a simplistic retort of bombs, but requires the skilled use of Canada's diplomatic and humanitarian tools.

Gabriel Fahel, chair, National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, Ottawa

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Close to home

Re A Dignified End For Dementia Patients: Who Makes The Call? (Feb. 16): The concept of advance consent is dependent on too many complex factors to be realistic in most cases. When we are given the diagnosis of dementia, how many understand the journey that will follow?

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As a caregiver to my husband who has suffered from Alzheimer's disease for 10 years, I have, with others in this situation, debated the issue of dying with dignity. We question whether our spouses' lives are indeed full when their cognitive level is so diminished that the most basic of functions requires assistance. We question dignity, when our spouses are fed and diapered, and are unable to express their needs because they no longer can speak. Yet we maintain the vigil of caring, every hour of every day.

What keeps us from wanting the power to decide for a person afflicted with dementia? Taking one's own life is palatable, but not that of another.

Merle J. Reid, Ottawa

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It is all well and good to state, in general terms, that a life of dementia is still worth living. But having recently experienced exactly what that means, through caring for one of my parents over a nine-year period, I would much prefer to avoid that chapter of life altogether.

Not everyone will share that viewpoint, but it is important that for those who do, that we have the option to end our lives at the onset of dementia, while we still have the capacity to have our wishes carried out.

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George Parker, Cobourg, Ont.

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Women's work

Re A Stern Talking-To Is Just What Young Feminists Did Not Need (Focus, Feb. 13): It is beyond me, and I suspect beyond Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright, why discrimination against women is so tenacious. Why aren't women and media really talking about this?

While other groups that face discrimination, visible minorities and the gay community, have made significant progress in the last decade (happily so), the pernicious discrimination against women continues.

A recent study of student professorial assessments found that women were significantly less likely to receive a positive review and more likely to receive a negative review than men – this at a time when women make up a greater percentage of the student population. Another study found that women were less likely to get an interview than men based on identical résumés, the only difference being the name of the applicant.

I have some sympathy for Ms. Steinem and Ms. Albright's call to arms. Politicizing the call may not have been appropriate, but certainly the message was.

Edith Myers, Toronto

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TPP impact

Large pharmaceutical companies got what they wanted from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, as Jeffrey Simpson notes (What Trudeau Can Learn From Big Pharma, Feb. 17). This means more of the same – strengthened patent protection leading to even higher prices for our already high-priced drugs.

While this is bad news for us in Canada, increasing the price of medicines in poor countries will put lives at risk. That is one reason organizations such as the Grandmothers Advocacy Network oppose ratifying the TPP.

Pat Evans, Toronto

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Putting patients first

The "bundled" health-care model works wonders because it puts patients first ('Bundled Care' Model Pays Off, Feb. 15). Continuity of care and easy flow of information at all levels benefit all. Imagine if we bundled training of health-care service providers. Silos of care could crumble.

Frank Sommers, MD, Toronto

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The success of the bundled-care model at St. Joseph's hospital can be attributed, at least in part, to the disease- and procedure-specific approach to care. While such successes are to be applauded in our fragmented health system, we hope that there is a layer of the process that includes the family physician, that was simply not articulated in the article.

If the family doctor, responsible for co-ordination of the patient's care overall, is left out, then we risk further fragmentation of the health system. Let's build a system that provides seamless care not just from hospital to home, but includes hospital, home and primary care.

Creation of robust infrastructure within primary care will be the best way to serve patients, particularly those with multiple conditions.

Sarah Newbery, president,Ontario College of Family Physicians; Cathy Faulds, past president, OCFP, Toronto

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Taxable market

An incredibly lucrative opportunity has landed in the lap of the federal government – B.C. real estate tax scofflaws (B.C. To Share Enhanced Real Estate Transaction Data With CRA, Feb. 16).

Here is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chance to recoup the shortfall in his tax hike/cut campaign plan that didn't quite work out mathematically: Sic Revenue Canada on all those who aren't paying GST on new-home sales and claiming capital gains.

Given the stratospheric prices of housing in B.C., this should neatly make up the differences.

Teresa Cooper, Winnipeg

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Duke it out

Canadian have a stake in the U.S. presidential election, and I'm happy to leave it to the experts to explain why. But I'd like to suggest that given that Donald Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac, Jeb Bush really has only one way to best him: Challenge him to a boxing match, with the stake being that the loser drops out of the Republican race.

Mr. Bush has little to lose and a lot to gain. Mr. Trump would lose major face if he doesn't step up, and is a goner if he fights and loses. It could be a Roman-era spectacle par excellence.

Derek Besner, Kitchener, Ont.

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