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Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:


Dead by suicide

Re The Unremembered (Oct. 31, Nov. 2): Many thanks to The Globe and Mail for remembering these fallen soldiers. The fact that the Canadian Armed Forces would not reveal the number of suicides by soldiers after they returned from battle missions speaks volumes. I suspect that disclosing the truth would have had an impact on the number of young men and women willing to enlist, considering the liabilities.

Your articles reveal how little these men, fathers, families were helped by the military after they developed PTSD, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Being labelled "unfit for deployment" appears to be the tipping point for many soldiers. Improving support and care for traumatized soldiers should be the new mission for the Canadian Armed Forces – which so far has clearly shown itself to be "unfit" for such a task.

Deborah McLean, Napanee, Ont.


Your admirable reporting on soldier suicide presents a raft of relevant statistics, but omits some vitally important context: the baseline number of suicides we would expect for a group of comparable size.

About one in 5,000 young Canadian men kill themselves each year. Any population of 40,000 tracked over many years would thus yield dozens of suicides, a sizable proportion of the 54 you document. This bears mentioning given that the raw figures are so prominently cited in the articles.

John W. Clarke, New York


Not for a moment should anyone think that Canadians are unaware or unwilling to pay the cost of care for ailing members of our military.

Yet the Ministry of Defence carried on without demanding that the government of the day fix the problem and make the budgets for military action reflect the true price of the continuing human costs of putting serving Canadians in harm's way. Medals and commendations are not a substitute for our obligation to those we send to war in our name.

Shirking on such a profound national obligation is a shameful affront to the nation and to the principles we stand for. It must end now and forever.

Craig Strickland, Langley, B.C.


China's rules

Re Five Takeaways From China's One-Child Policy (Oct. 31): Doug Saunders is right that China's fertility rate was falling rapidly before it implemented its draconian one-child policy. This was in no small measure due to education and non-coercive incentives. Given that these strategies were working well, one could argue that China's one-child policy did more harm than good for population control because of all the bad PR it generated.

But it is incorrect to suggest that making people prosperous causes population problems to vanish. On the contrary, stabilizing population is a prerequisite for prosperity.

All countries (aside from those blessed with oil) that showed rapid economic development previously had seen their fertility rates fall dramatically. Examples include China, Thailand, Costa Rica, India, Chile and Tunisia.

Per capita wealth rises as fertility falls below three births per woman. Countries with high fertility and rapidly growing populations – many in sub-Saharan Africa – remain mired in poverty.

Human numbers are still increasing by over 80 million annually, one billion in just 12 years. This is bad news for Earth's other species as we take away their habitat to feed our still burgeoning population and appetites. Ethical and effective family planning programs are still very much needed.

Madeline Weld, president, Population Institute Canada, Ottawa


Glad to see that The Globe and Mail is adding to the voices calling for an end to the hukou system (Rights, Not Work – editorial, Nov. 2). The problem with the hukou system is not about migrants' "rights to work," but about their rights to social services. For example, about 170 million migrants have work in cities, but many of their kids are denied access to public schools in the cities where their parents work. That has to change.

Kam Wing Chan, Seattle


The Globe's to-do list

I found your lengthy to-do list for Justin Trudeau very strange, given The Globe and Mail's endorsement of the Conservatives prior to the election (Justin Trudeau's To-Do List – editorial, Oct. 31).

You call for reinstating the long-form census, banning omnibus bills, dealing with climate change, rescinding mandatory minimum sentences, modifying Bill C-51, unmuzzling government scientists, and initiating an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, among other things. You then state that if Mr. Trudeau manages all or even some of this in his first year as prime minister, he "will be off to a magnificent start."

Almost every suggestion concerned revisions or changes to policies instigated by the Conservative Party. If all of these many, many initiatives are so necessary, why did The Globe endorse the Conservatives? Had they won, not one of these changes would have been made.

Gail Asper, Winnipeg


Pay day ABCs

Re Why The Teachers' Unions Rule (Oct. 31): Margaret Wente writes that elementary teachers at the top of the pay scale at the Toronto District School Board make $94,707.

In 1992, the top teacher salary was $65,000. In inflation-adjusted terms, today that would be about $98,000, rather than the current $94,000. Also, some benefits (pensions, sick days) have been reduced. So teachers have not been making out like bandits, they are not part of the small segment who have scooped up all the real economic growth. They are not the reason for the growing income gap and wealth gap.

Joseph Polito, Toronto


A married pair of Ontario teachers at the top wage scale enjoy income equivalent to the top 1 per cent threshold of Canadian earners. If they retire at 65, they have a pension benefit equal to savings of about $2-million in the self-employed sector – more if they retire earlier. By global standards, they are fabulously wealthy.

Rob Richards, Toronto


I can't speak for other teachers, but as a recently retired teacher, I can speak for my 36-year career. I worked an average of 55-60 hours a week; I spent most of my summers working on curriculum, planning classes, and upgrading my teaching skills; yes, I took time off during December and March breaks, but mostly to get caught up on my sleep. I certainly never broke into the $90,000 club until late in my career.

Did I love my job? Absolutely. Did I earn my pay? Yes, every flipping penny. Was I in a privileged position? Completely, because I got to work with thousands of amazing young people. Are there other teachers like me who work hard, teach passionately, and devote their lives to their students? Yes, in every school in Ontario. Would I become a teacher again? In a flash.

The only thing that puzzles me about people like Ms. Wente is why more of them didn't become teachers, given that they think teachers have such cushy, well-paid jobs. Could it be that they didn't have what it takes?

Larry Tayler, Belleville, Ont.

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