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Protesters march against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Vancouver last November.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

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The politics of energy

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Thirty-plus years ago, in the "national interest," the federal government of Pierre Trudeau forced the National Energy Program upon the province of Alberta. The Liberal Party has barely had an electoral pulse in that province since.

Now the government of his son, Justin, is determined to foist the Trans Mountain pipeline upon British Columbians to the detriment of our economic and environmental interests for the same "national interest" (Trudeau Backs Alberta On B.C.'s Trans Mountain Freeze, Feb. 2). For that the federal Liberals can expect to pay a similar electoral price in coastal British Columbia.

Dave Nonen, Victoria

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley wants the pipeline built, whatever it takes. While the Alberta oil sands are located in the middle of nowhere, far removed from Calgary and Edmonton, let's not forget that this pipeline ends in the heart of British Columbia's Lower Mainland, right at the doorstep of Vancouver.

Plans for the pipeline pose a real risk of a major spill, which can easily devastate Vancouver's waterfront for years, if not decades.

Maybe it once made sense to terminate a major oil pipeline in a cosmopolitan waterfront city, but times have changed. How can anyone today seriously contemplate the tripling of the amount of crude that will have to make its way through Vancouver's heart?

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Joachim Achtzehnter, Richmond, B.C.

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For all the talk about the environmental impact of a pipeline, the real case against building it is a business one.

Simply put, the demand for oil is falling and it is quite reasonable to expect that any new pipeline will be left dormant in our lifetime. If oil were truly a strong, long-term investment, Alberta and the rest of Canada would be building more refineries. Instead, Alberta is seeking to squeeze out the last drops of a dying energy resource, while leaving British Columbia with a scar on the land and the risk of a potential environmental disaster.

Walter Sawadsky, Vancouver

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I am a fan of Ms. Notley. I like her courage and her priorities. However, I think she is veering off in a faulty direction with her opposition to the B.C. NDP's plan to insist on cleanup protocols and financing being in place before fuel is sent, in any form, across British Columbia (Notley Threatens Trade Battle With B.C. Over Trans Mountain, Feb. 1).

Isn't rapid, complete and safe spill management in everyone's best interests? Everywhere? Isn't this an opportunity for everyone to raise the bar on how our environment is protected?

We all know that during the period while we develop energy alternatives, we need some oil extraction for, among other things, airplanes. But for goodness sake, let's bump up our environmental protection at the same time.

This is a great opportunity. Let's develop a new generation of tools to keep our land pristine while we bridge ourselves through to cleaner energy. For the sake of future generations, we all want to get to the same place.

Margaret Archibald, Kamloops

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Feminization of medicine

André Picard has rightly pointed out that medicine in Canada is increasingly "feminized" (The Feminization Of Medicine: Does It Matter? Jan. 29).

As women in academic medicine, working in a hospital with a 100-year history of advancing and advocating for women's rights, we know that the work of inclusion – for our profession and our patients – is just beginning.

There are more women becoming doctors in Canada than ever before – well over 50 per cent in some of our medical schools – and yes it does matter. Despite women traditionally earning less in medicine, and concerns that they may see fewer patients, there is now an increasing suggestion that women may provide care that, in important ways, can be better for patients. While this does not mean that patients should request female physicians only, it does mean that we can learn and benefit from the feminization of medicine.

Despite this, the glass ceiling for female physicians is as real as it is in other sectors of the economy. The representation of women declines dramatically in the higher academic ranks of medicine. In the United States, while women are well represented at the junior ranks, among full-time faculty members who are at the rank of professor, just 22 per cent are women. These data also suggest that senior hospital administrators, medical association boards and leadership in other important health care organizations continue to be dominated by men.

As Mr. Picard states, the pioneers of women in medicine came from Women's College Hospital, which was founded in the late 1800s because women were not permitted to study or practise medicine in Canada. Today, all the members of our executive leadership teams, plus the majority of our board of directors, physicians and scientists, are women. That makes our organization a true anomaly – probably the only one of its kind in the country. Gender diversity – among other forms of diversity – at all levels and in all professions is critical. Things are moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go, and that includes in health care.

Danielle Martin and Paula Rochon, MDs, Women's College Hospital, Toronto

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Unsportsmanlike conduct

Twenty eight Olympic athletes recently had their drug bans reversed, with previously withdrawn medals to be returned (In A Perfect World, There's A Consequence For Cheating, Feb. 2). In addition, after the International Olympic Committee initially banned Russia from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics this month for systematic doping violations at the Sochi Games, there will be about 170 "Russian" athletes participating. They will be recognized at the closing ceremony as a Russian team.

Meanwhile, corruption in the selection of World Cup soccer venues continues to dog FIFA, the ruling international soccer body.

So how come we are planning to support, with Canadian government funds, a Calgary bid for the Olympics and a joint pitch, with the United States and Mexico, for a future World Cup? Certainly there are more worthwhile sporting projects to support than these anachronistic and disgraced circuses.

Donald Symonds, Markham, Ont.

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Losing touch

I'm sure we're all pleased that Shaw's financial position has never been better (Shaw Offers Buyouts Amid Falling Revenue In Cable Division, Jan. 31). But the company should be aware that in-person customer service is very important to us in the seniors demographic. We're not going to search the web for help: If we can't talk to a human when we want to, within a reasonable time, we're switching providers.

John Donlan, Vancouver

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