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June 21: The disease of obesity? – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Disease of obesity?

Re Designation Of Obesity As Disease Spurs Canadian Debate (June 20): I am astounded that the head of the Canadian Medical Association would think that the American Medical Association’s decision to recognize obesity as a disease is “sensible.” The move to medicalize this generally non-pathological condition is driven by a market looking for ways to make money.

Our medical system has obviously failed in its greatest duty to patients – prevention and postponement. Intervention should only occur when a glandular or psychological condition is the only option for remediation. If the real intent is to draw attention to the issue, unhealthy foods should have warning labels, as do cigarette packages.

It is no wonder patients are often poorly served and that pundits are continually warning that cost will overwhelm the system.

Dennis Casaccio, Clementsport, N.S.


Indian Act shackles

At Tsawwassen First Nation, we have one answer to the accountability crisis wrought by the Indian Act: Invest in self-governance (Accountability Is Key – editorial, June 20).

For too many years, the oppression of Indian Act governance crippled Tsawwassen First Nation’s ability to be responsive to the needs of our community. Since we reclaimed self-governance in 2009, accountability has formed the core of each and every decision made by our government.

Tsawwassen First Nation government’s accountability mechanisms are first and foremost to our members. The Tsawwassen constitution established an advisory council of members who must be consulted prior to the creation or amendment of Tsawwassen laws. Our annual budget is subject to a rigorous vetting process by both elected officials and community advisory groups. Our strategic plan, service plans, and annual reports are to our members, not to some far-away Ottawa bureaucrats. Every action of our government is defined by the priorities of our membership.

To Tsawwassen, self-governance was critical. Only once we shed the shackles of the Indian Act, were we finally able to realize our goal of responsive, transparent and accountable governance.

Bryce Williams, Chief, Tsawwassen First Nation, B.C.


Accountability is a key to addressing poverty among status First Nations children, but I fail to see how The Globe draws the conclusion that “the problem has not been lack of money.” The report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children states that the “dysfunctional accountability structure amplifies the negative consequences of the underfunding to programs and services.”

Last year, The Globe acknowledged that “ever since 1996, federal spending on primary and secondary education for young people from First Nation communities has been capped at 2 per cent per year – equal to the current inflation target – which might be reasonably interpreted as a freeze, notwithstanding a rising student population.” You must be aware that this “freeze” covers a broader array of programs and services that affect the poverty rates of status First Nation children.

If The Globe were really interested in accountability, it would also be calling on the federal government to “account” for the impact on the well-being of First Nation citizens of a 17-year “freeze” in basic transfers.

Scott Serson, Ottawa


Wood it were so

Re One Tree, Two Neighbours – And A Changed Legal Landscape (June 20): Kudos to Hilary Scharper for winning such a significant Ontario Superior Court decision, requiring neighbours to agree on cutting down or removing branches from an, as now defined, shared tree.

Our family and at least three neighbours lost the benefits from several substantial maple trees that were felled without notice or discussion, depriving us all of privacy and their beauty, let alone the impact to our property values.

Philip Hirst, Westmount, Que.


Usually people want a “free ride” on the neighbour with a tree: Did the ruling include a requirement that all the neighbours share in the maintenance and the ultimate disposal of the tree in question?

This ruling could have the long-term effect of fewer trees growing to maturity as people understand they have no control over the tree once it gets to a certain size. Isn’t this known as unintended consequences?

David Vallance, Toronto


By-elections’ costs

Re As Rae Exits, By-Election Will Test Trudeau (June 20): Bob Rae’s resignation as an MP follows other noted resignations, such as Dalton McGuinty’s, resulting in an expensive by-election, funded by the taxpayers.

Politicians are elected to definite terms of office and should be obligated to complete those terms. Perhaps it is time for members who resign part way through their terms without good reason to be required to pay the costs of by-elections.

Paul Dennison, Thunder Bay, Ont.


Politics’ water line

Letter writer Michael Kelly’s 10 political commandments only address the 10 per cent of the iceberg that is above water (10 Commandments – June 20). The much larger problem is that there is no fairness and transparency in the ways that governments choose what problems to address and what proposed solutions to apply to these problems.

There has to be a better way than simply gaining the interest of the PMO’s chief of staff or the ear of the leader.

Bryan M. Kramer, Oakville, Ont.


Re All-Party Conpromise Sees Rush On Bills (June 20): Whew. The Nuclear Terrorism Act, passed on Wednesday, “makes it illegal to use nuclear or radioactive material with the intent to cause death, bodily harm or substantial property damage.” Really? And before that it wasn’t against the law? Thank goodness for those deep thinkers in Ottawa keeping the rest of us afloat.

Yvonne Sanderson, Edmonton


The last goodbye

Re Diamonds And Dust (Facts & Arguments, June 20): My late husband always said he was first attracted to me because of my legs. Upon his sudden demise 18 years ago, I, too, had the honour of scattering his ashes. They were split up, some dispersed at Pearson International Airport, which he had flown out of, some in Algonquin Park. The rest I took to Vancouver, where we had many joyous times.

I spent the day on English Bay beach, sunning myself, covered in tanning lotion. Just as it came time to scatter the ashes in a peaceful place, the sea breezes turned, as they often do, and I found myself with his ashes adhered to the oil on my legs. Need I say more?

Judith A. Watkins, Toronto

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