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Today's topics: the right to die; consumers and marketing boards; cyclists/motorists; the small things that change us ... and more (The Globe and Mail)
Today's topics: the right to die; consumers and marketing boards; cyclists/motorists; the small things that change us ... and more (The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

Nov. 16: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Dead, to rights

Again, the right to die is in the news, this time due to Gloria Taylor’s unfortunate circumstances in B.C. and the report by the Royal Society of Canada calling for Canadians to have the right to choose death, even if they do not have a terminal illness (Panel Calls For Legalization Of Assisted Suicide – Nov. 15). We’ve been reading and thinking about this issue for years, without any progress, while other countries have made significant strides. It reflects poorly on Canada that Ms. Taylor, who has ALS, has to replicate the unsuccessful efforts of Sue Rodriguez almost 20 years ago. It’s time for our government to take a lead on this. That’s what good governments do – help our society move forward.

Strident objections by some concerned citizens that legalization of assisted suicide or state euthanasia would immediately lead to a host of seniors being victimized by family members is misplaced. Sufficient controls can be established. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I think most of our citizens would not immediately jump at the chance to send grandma to the morgue.

Peter D. Hambly, Hanover, Ont.


The account of Peter Fenker’s death from ALS is heart-wrenching (Right-To-Die Case Opens With Tales Of ‘Painful Eternity’ – Nov. 15). That said, the unintended consequences of striking down the current laws are of great concern. The principle of autonomy is the foundation for euthanasia advocates and, when applied, inevitably will result in anyone who decides their suffering is too great having the right to request and receive physician-assisted suicide.

For example, on the basis of autonomy, a 48-year-old man suffering from depression should be able to request and receive the “right to die.” Would the state (against his wishes) force him to keep living? Would autonomy not apply to him?

No matter what safeguards are put in place to prevent this from happening, they will easily be bypassed. This slope is, indeed, very slippery.

Mike Schouten, Surrey, B.C.


Consumers, too

A Canadian dairy farmer says he thinks his industry will survive the trans-Pacific trade talks unscathed because the U.S. government will want to protect its cotton farmers, the Japanese will want to protect their rice farmers (Farm Protections On The Table – Nov. 15). In other words, all the governments involved have a pet industry they want to protect from competition. Wouldn’t it be nice if even one government wanted to protect consumers from artificially high prices caused by the likes of marketing boards?

Ken Johnston, Victoria


Wheel wisdom

I happily bike my 12-plus-kilometre commute to the downtown Toronto hospitals where I work as a resident physician (Cyclists And Motorists Need Mutual Respect – Nov. 15). I begin my ride energized by the sun rising over Lake Ontario.

My family feels differently. My husband, an orthopedic surgery resident, reminds me regularly of the number of cyclists he sees in the trauma ICU. Friends and family echo his concerns, suggesting I am irresponsible, as a mother of two, to consider biking to work.

The news of cyclist Jenna Morrison’s tragic fate has hit too close to home. Instead of jumping on my bike, I have reluctantly joined the stressed-out masses in their polluting cars. I long for the day my family can move to a city where I am not considered reckless or suicidal for simply wanting to bike to work.

Chryssa McAlister, MD, Toronto


The answer to the bicycle/car problem is not additional bike lanes, which are impractical on most city streets. The answer is education, enforced by law. All downtown cyclists should be required to pass a licensing test, just like motorists, and wear a vest with a license number on it over their clothes, just like motorists must display licence plates on their car.

Written and driving tests for motorists and those renewing their licence should include information on the rules of the road as they pertain to cyclists. Cyclists who wish to use the roads should behave like motorists, not pedestrians – they cannot have it both ways, as it is confusing for motorists and consequently dangerous for cyclists.

Natalie Rogers, Toronto


Last farewell

Sometimes we find ourselves called upon to do small but difficult things that change our lives (A Final Resting Place For A Homeless Man – Facts & Arguments, Nov. 15). The first time a Toronto mission asked me to perform a memorial service for one of its tenants, I knew there would be no family members to fill me in on his childhood, no wife or children available to tell me about his life as a husband and father.

What I did learn though, was just how much his fellow tenants admired him, how funny he was with the staff, how willing he was to help others. I pieced together, from mere scraps of information, the fabric of a full life. The service was moving and meaningful; it opened my eyes to the importance of celebrating every human life.

I am one of a number of Unitarian universalist lay chaplains who willingly perform memorial services for the destitute, those without families, and the homeless, for little or no money, knowing that we gain far more in compassion and understanding than a fee would ever cover.

Margaret Kohr, lay chaplain, First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto


Nov. 11 inequality

Another Remembrance Day is behind us. On that day, the governments that waged wars had a holiday. The banks that financed wars had a holiday. Most of the populace whose ancestors died in two world wars had to work to provide taxes, in part to fund further evils from war by present governments.

Make it a national holiday and end the inequality.

Thea Varley, Toronto


Bare minimum

We applaud The Globe and Mail’s firm stance that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences, featured in the proposed omnibus crime bill, are bad policy (A Message Of Retreat For Canada – editorial, Nov. 15). We know, given the experience of our southern neighbours, how this story ends – badly.

However, given that Bill C-10 will likely pass, an amendment to the bill calling for an upfront impacts assessment, to be completed by an independent non-governmental body, should be atop the agenda. We need to measure the bill’s impact on youth and women, look at who is affected by race and ethnicity, consider the health and human rights of those likely to be locked up, and scrutinize the far-reaching consequences for social programs and relevant government budgets.

The results of such an impact assessment would illuminate the true costs – and high likelihood of failure – of Bill C-10. From an open and accountable government, it’s the bare minimum owed.

Richard Elliott, executive director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network


Insight to spare

Re And The Next Leader Is … Bob Rae (Nov. 15): Lawrence Martin mentioned a speech the Bob Rae gave last week. During that address, Mr. Rae also said: “We Liberals find ourselves competing with two other parties with simplistic messages.” You certainly have to give the interim Liberal leader points for perspicacity.

Louis Desjardins, Belleville, Ont.

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