My gut instinct tells me that the clash between Canada's aboriginal people and the federal government will never be resolved (Harper, Chiefs To Meet Amid Chaos, Protests – front page, Jan. 11).
Aboriginals will never accept the fact that their land has been confiscated, and the government has no intention of giving it back.
And the beat goes on …
Sebastian Grunsta, Ottawa
The case for revamping the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs can be no more clearly evidenced than in the department's response to the plight of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation (First Nation, Winnipeg Battle Over Water – Jan. 11).
The City of Winnipeg has been drawing water from Shoal Lake for nearly a century under the very nose of the band, while the band is forced to bring in bottled water from Kenora, Ont. And the Department of Aboriginal Affairs? It refuses to intervene and protect the community's interests. Can one not understand the resentment this creates?
Peter Tassie, Coldstream, B.C.
In your editorial Let There Be Light (Jan. 10), you say: "It is asking a lot of Canadians to trust the legitimacy of a band chief who dismisses the importance of proper accounting practices and won't let her people talk to reporters."
Very true, but isn't it equally true of the Prime Minister?
James A. Duthie, Nanaimo, B.C.
The president of the B.C. Medical Association has it wrong (Numbers Add Up? – letter, Jan. 11). It isn't about nurse practitioners being more cost effective; it's about access. Thousands of British Columbians don't have a family doctor (I didn't have one for five years despite being a middle-class health-care worker).
Nurse practitioners in B.C. need to be able to expand their practice, so that they can take on patients just like GPs do, instead of being tied to a handful of clinics. The BCMA needs to abandon its obdurate opposition to this concept.
Jane McCall, Delta, B.C.
It would've been reassuring if the BCMA president had focused more on the medical effectiveness of a new approach to primary health care than its cost effectiveness.
At a time when untold numbers of British Columbians are frantically searching for a family doctor, it would increase overall effectiveness if these GPs didn't have to spend their precious time flushing ear wax, treating plantar warts, giving tetanus shots or extracting recalcitrant splinters from your feet.
The BCMA's attitude smacks more of fear of possible competition than concern for reducing health-care costs.
Ellen Pye, Delta, B.C.
In Haiti, meanwhile
Margaret Wente says the best way to help Haiti is to allow more Haitians to emigrate to Canada, thereby increasing the flow of remittances back to Haiti (Aid To Haiti: Are We Nuts? – Jan. 10).
There's no question that increased immigration is good for Canada and that it would provide some financial benefit to Haiti. Unfortunately, the people who leave destitute Third World countries such as Haiti in large-scale emigrations are a skewed sample of the country's most dynamic, intelligent and capable people.
Over time, these large-scale emigrations rob poor countries of their most precious resource and thereby make it impossible for them to come out of poverty.
Eric Stutz, Toronto
Margaret Wente is right. Haiti is a difficult place to help – but progress is being made. According to an independent study financed in part by Unicef and CIDA, Haiti's children have seen important gains since the 2010 earthquake. More children are in school, fewer children suffer from malnutrition, and the child mortality rate has declined.
Many problems still bedevil Haiti – there are too many people in the camps, there aren't enough jobs, one out of every four children isn't in school. So there's much to do.
But, after the quake, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said this would be a 10-year reconstruction – and we're not even a third of the way along. We need to continue to monitor our results and be sure that Canadian assistance is helping make life better for Haitians. Fortunately, the facts show that things are improving, albeit slowly.
David Morley, president and CEO, Unicef Canada
When in Ecuador …
David Suzuki is right: Ecuador and Bolivia may not have all the answers, but at least their laws are beginning to take into account the intrinsic value of the natural systems within their borders and their right to exist and flourish (What If Mother Nature Had Rights? She Does in Ecuador – Jan. 9).
The anthropocentric view of the world, one that posits that nature is merely a repository of resources waiting to be exploited for short-term economic gain, is a dangerous illusion. It will take a lot to break free from this illusion, especially when most government and industry leaders have successfully deceived us (and themselves) into believing that our well-being depends on consuming more and more "stuff."
After all, as Kenneth Boulding, an adviser to John Kennedy, said almost 50 years ago, "anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a physically finite planet is either mad, or an economist."
Mark Bessoudo, Toronto
David Suzuki may be encouraged by Ecuador's treatment of Mother Nature, but Human Rights Watch is less sanguine about the abuses suffered by the Ecuadorean people: "Corruption, inefficiency, and political influence have plagued the Ecuadorean judiciary for many years," its 2012 report says. "Impunity for police abuses is widespread."
Dr. Suzuki's credibility lost lustre when he suggested jail time for climate-change deniers. And the pleas for cash to save Santa's workshop from global warming stretched credulity. But his heart-felt desire to emulate the environmental efforts of a country with a poor human-rights record is misguided and misplaced.
Darcy Charles Lewis, Calgary
The fun Fifties?
If a high score on some "fragility of life" index is relevant to the evolution of a "Jazz Age," then the 1950s should have been a lot more fun (Why 2013 Loves 1923 – Jan. 11).
Waking up from a world war to the hangover of possible thermonuclear annihilation, those lucky Fifties folks had it all. So where did Eisenhower, Diefenbaker and all that other boring stuff come from? The real party started a decade later.
As a grand societal overview, Mark Braude's column may have its shortcomings. But he does make me feel a little less guilty about my Downton Abbey obsession.
Farley Helfant, Toronto