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Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the media during the closing press conference after attending the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit in Toronto on Friday, May 30, 2014. (NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the media during the closing press conference after attending the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit in Toronto on Friday, May 30, 2014. (NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS)


June 2: Abortion politics – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Abortion politics

Re Harper Says Abortion Too Divisive For Maternal Health Plan (May 30): It is unfortunate that the media is paying so much attention to the issue of the lack of funding for abortion clinics in the face of the Prime Minister’s incredible announcement of $3.5-billion – even more than the NGO community had hoped – for maternal, newborn and child health after 2015.

This is a case of arguing about whether the glass is 99 per cent full or 1 per cent empty.

Even with this sizable contribution, the task is much too big for Canada to go at it alone. It will require collaboration with other donor and recipient countries, NGOs, civil society and the private sector.

Like any successful relationship, this demands compromise and respect for the values of others. Even if the Canadian government were pro funding abortion, imposing our views on the other players risks throwing the baby out with the bath water, literally.

Stephen St. Denis, Ottawa


I resent deeply that Stephen Harper is using 3.5 billion of our tax dollars for the charity of his choice. Should he give me an opportunity to disperse my tax dollars for strictly charitable use, I would be pleased to pass them on to the NGO of my choice.

He has taken my money without my permission for his pick of charity, however wonderful it may be. That, to my mind, is far from democratic.

Neil Buchan, Courtenay, B.C.


Stephen Harper, passionately speaking as our Prime Minister (and, I suspect, as a parent), has shown incredible and enlightened leadership in pledging $3.5-billion toward improving maternal and child health in poor countries. How sad that we don’t see this side of him in the many social and quality-of-life issues affecting Canadians.

The tough-guy approach may play well to his base. Too bad he doesn’t let his humanity out in ways that touch and improve the lives of all Canadians.

Marty Cutler, Toronto


What is “divisive” about having abortion options in a package of measures to improve women’s health? Well, including them might divide Stephen Harper from his “base.”

But excluding them will surely divide living women from safe alternatives to giving birth. Poor women, in poor countries, are often already victimized by rape, incest, war, poor nutrition and poor education.

Those are the real choices: Mr. Harper’s margin of political security or women’s lives.

James Russell, Ottawa


Caribbean dreamin’

Your charming editorial Caribbean Dream (May 28) brought up the real reason that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is not interested in annexing the Turks and Caicos – without realizing it.

By the time the paperwork is done, the islands will be under water, thanks to climate change. A mari usque ad mare, ad infinitum.

Barbara Klunder, Toronto


I think the will of the people needs to be gauged on Turks and Caicos – and wouldn’t it be nice to have a referendum about someone wanting to join Canada for a change?

Elaine Kozak, Saltspring Island, B.C.


Sweden has it right

Re Open The Gates To Uprooted Syrians (May 29): Antonio Guterres’s article about the plight of Syrian refugees places that tragedy in the right perspective. Why is Canada not doing its fair share of humanitarian support?

A recent report has highlighted the efforts Sweden has made in this regard. It has taken in 14,000 refugees from that conflict. If you scaled that effort to a country’s population (Sweden’s is around 10 million), and focused only on those countries with the largest gross domestic product, this would mean that Canada should be taking in 49,000 Syrians.

In comparison, France would take 90,000, Australia would take 33,000, the U.K. would take 89,000 and the U.S. would take 448,000 refugees.

Using this formula, the top 20 countries could absorb around two million of those poor souls.

We, collectively, could do that.

Stephen Calvert, Delta, B.C.


Dead is expensive

Re The Soaring Cost Of Cemetery Plots To Die For (Report on Business Magazine, May 30): People buy plots and contribute to a “perpetual care” fund, so cemeteries must be cleaning up financially – right?

No, mostly wrong.

Cemeteries don’t just put boxes in the ground and forget them. They have to maintain the grounds: Any idea what it costs to cut 60 acres of grass 10 to 15 times a season and, with luck, not damage any gravestones? Tens of thousands of dollars.

What it costs to maintain the paperwork to trace the location of bodies over a century or two? To set a stone upright after it has fallen over? (Hint: You may need a crane.) Remove a fallen or falling tree? And so on.

Perpetual-care funds? Ha – that refers to the interest generated by perhaps a couple of hundred thousand of otherwise untouchable dollars every year.

These funds mostly generate 1 to – with luck – 1.5 per cent interest; 1 per cent of, say, $250,000 is $2,500. With that magnificent sum, you have to run the cemetery (see above note re costs). And if the company (for- or not-for profit) fails to meet its obligations, the matter gets dumped on municipalities, already stretched to the limit financially.

The future of cemeteries is not clear; the article makes good points about that. But I think the real focus should have been on some of the realities of cemetery financial management with no real money to pay for it – leaving aside funeral homes, which are a totally different matter.

Mary Lazier Corbett, Picton, Ont.


1+1 = an election

Re Hudak Needs To Walk Away From Mess He Made (May 30): If Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak forms the government in Ontario after the June 12 election, can we look forward to ending the controversy over traditional math versus discovery math by replacing both with Hudak job math?

Question: How much is one plus one?

Hudak-math answer: How much would you like it to be?

Stuart McRae, Toronto


Front-row hockey

Are We There Yet? The Interminable Slog Of This Year’s Playoffs (Sports, May 30): Cathal Kelly’s insights and wit have led me from the rafters, through a blizzard of white-noise sports-media saturation, to the front row. What a treat to wake up and read his columns during the interminable slog of this year’s playoffs.

Doug Malcolm, Hamilton


Hmm …

If the bankers eliminate $100 bills, what do I use for bookmarks? (Why Central Bankers Would Like To Trash Your Cash – Report on Business, May 30).

Peter Gower, Kingston

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