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Death, assisted

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Regardless of whether or not the "reasonably foreseeable" clause was included, Canadians can be thankful that the bill on assisted death was studied and amended before becoming law (Senate Passes Assisted-Dying Legislation – June 17). Without a Senate, no such review would have taken place. Those who want to abolish the Senate should take note.

Norman Paterson, Thornbury, Ont.

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For a moment, we thought the Senate could actually have an independent function, till it caved in and accepted the unpopular, unconstitutional Liberal bill on assisted dying. Now our doubts about abolishing the Senate have been removed. It is, after all, a useless but lucrative home for aging political hacks.

Bob Martin, Halifax

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What is now definitely reasonably foreseeable is a successful Supreme Court challenge.

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Rachel George, Calgary

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The typically legalistic discussion of the death-with-dignity tussle between the House and the Senate misses a key dimension. How is it that the usually more conservative body was well ahead of the House on this issue?

The answer should be rather obvious: As you get older, the issue increasingly becomes practical, rather than theoretical. The Globe should calculate and report the average age in the two houses.

Henry Milner, Montreal

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F-35: Compromise

As a former navigator flying twin-engined CF-100s during the Cold War, I am amazed at the support given to the single-engine F-35 to defend the vast expanses of Canada (Defence – Folio, June 17).

If single-engine fighters are okay for northern defence today, why was the F-86 Sabre not used for this purpose back then?

We do not need stealth technology for this purpose. We need long-range, twin-engine fighters such as the Super Hornet. We were scrambled many times to go after Russian Bears penetrating the Dew Line. They always turned back as soon as they saw our contrails heading north. We experienced single- and double-engine flame-outs and survived them all.

Defending our skies often involved scrambles to help aircraft in distress. During our brief time flying out of North Bay, we saved three separate aircraft with a total of nine lives on board by guiding aircraft in distress into safe emergency landings, one in northern Quebec, one in Ontario and one KC-97 to its home base in the U.S. I doubt the F-35 could do this, due to reported poor low-speed-handling characteristics.

If the government believes it needs the F-35 to be able to work with our NATO allies, then buy 12 or so for that purpose. Then buy Super Hornets for home defence. We have always been a country of compromise! Why not now?

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E. Scott Maclagan, Orillia, Ont.

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Step by step by step

Government policies should provide guidance, not try to manage every detail. What the Ontario government has defined in its climate plan is "central planning" in a social-democratic society taken to an extreme (Ontario's Green Plan Is Policy On Speed – June 17).

The plan bears a resemblance to what demonstrably failed in the Soviet Union, where the "system" did not recognize that millions of individuals making millions of independent decisions is far more effective in achieving an acceptable result than a rule-driven, promulgated definition of almost every aspect of individuals' lives! It took about 80 years for the Soviet system to fail. Ontario's will be a shorter wait.

Walter F. Petryschuk, Sarnia, Ont.

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Let's accept Jeffrey Simpson's criticisms. Ontario's climate plan is expensive, bureaucratic and complicated. Then let's consider the alternative – use the marketplace, by setting a price on carbon that drives individual decisions. Sounds good.

The Ontario government's cap-and-trade plan adds about 4 cents a litre to gasoline. Clearly, this price is too modest to change behaviour. After all, gas cost about $1.40 a litre (depending where you live in Canada) about two years ago. And we still drove SUVs and commuted long distances.

What price is needed – $2? It isn't enough in Europe, where gas continues to be used extensively. And what of the social disruption, with the impact falling unfairly on people who can't change overnight? Think through the alternative and the consequences. When you do, you will find a role for regulation and incentives, too.

Glen Estill, Lion's Head, Ont.

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A carbon price signal is an efficient measure to change behaviour. But it isn't the only one needed for Ontario's climate strategy, especially for services like energy and transportation (A Taxing Plan? If Only It Were – editorial, June 11).

Consider the example of smoking. Over the years, governments have increased the tax on tobacco in an effort to curb smoking. Taxes account for two thirds of the price of a pack of cigarettes. Yet two million Ontarians still smoke.

A carbon price that just increases drivers' gas costs but doesn't provide any other options for getting around is bound to fail economically and politically. Complementary policies such as funding better public transit, bike networks and better city planning are essential to cut carbon emissions from transportation.

Measures to address consumer barriers to the up-take of electric vehicles and to increase the supply of affordable EV models in Canada are also required.

Ontario's climate plan is a step in the right direction. If smoking is any indication, Kathleen Wynne is right not to put all her policy eggs in the price basket.

Tim Gray, Environmental Defence; Sidney Ribaux, Equiterre; Ed Whittingham, Pembina Institute

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Walls and falls

It is ironic, or at least a bad joke, to witness an evolution of democracy and its due process unfolding in a way that could very well result in Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States. We saw the disintegration of the USSR under the rule of Mikhail Gorbachev – and the Berlin Wall came down. Are we now going to see the disintegration (or at least the "fall from grace") of the United States unfolding under the reign of Donald Trump – with a Mexican wall about to go up?

The Arabs had their spring; let's hope the Americans are not about to have their fall.

Bruce Fowler, Vernon, B.C.

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Olympic pharma

It's no secret that athletes from Russia and various other countries have used performance-enhancing drugs in their training for the Olympics. But it's a losing battle to attempt to prevent the use of such substances. No sooner has a more rigorous test been developed than another method is developed to mask the detection.

I suggest we have one category for drug-free athletes, and add another category for self-declared users of performance-enhancing substances. Only the winners in the drug-free events would be tested.

In the not-too-distant past, the amateur rules for Olympic athletes were changed to permit pro athletes to participate. Why not change the pharmaceutical rules?

Peter Durksen, Breslau, Ont.

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