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At war with Islamic State

Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair are just plain wrong about the war against Islamic State.

Stephen Harper seems incapable of undertaking sincere public consultation on most issues. It is one of the reasons I no longer support the Conservatives financially. But on the case for war against IS, he has it right. This is not about finishing the ill-advised war against Saddam Hussein. The lies surrounding that campaign are well-documented; we cannot undo the tragic outcome of that folly. If Jean Chrétien did one good thing, it was keeping Canada out of Iraq post 9/11.

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But IS is not a result of the destabilization of Iraq or Syria. Islamic State is an expression of radical fundamentalism using those unfortunate countries as a launchpad to sow terror across the globe. Even Muslims living in those countries are not safe from the rabid anti-humanism of the IS "philosophy."

One of my sons is in the Canadian Forces. I have no desire to see him or his fellow soldiers go into harm's way without the best case for doing so. The widespread slaughter of innocents in the name of a warped "philosophy" and worldview seems the best reason of all.

Paul Clarry, Aurora, Ont.


Just when one believes things cannot get worse in Syria and Iraq, they do.

The West, including Canada, does not really understand the disorder into which the region has sunk. Nonetheless, the conviction that the most egregious, but hardly the only offenders of human rights and dignity must be punished, seems to be sufficient to unleash a bombing campaign.

Will this strategy lead to peace and stability, and respect for rights and freedoms, in the region? Or will it, more likely, give rise to even worse forms of extremism, as many more innocent people inevitably become casualties? The Islamic State has provoked the West into exactly the kind of response that meets its own strategic objectives.

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Roy Culpeper, chair, Group of 78


The real threat

Our MPs should focus on Ebola, not on Islamic State. They should be organizing aid for Liberia, not trading juvenile innuendos about CF-18s. Barack Obama should be rallying an international coalition to suppress Ebola, not one to bomb yet-another Mideast target.

If the world doesn't quickly control Ebola, Ebola will quickly spread globally.

Michael J. Armstrong, St. Catharines, Ont.

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Unrelenting pain

Re Doctor, No: Solving The Painkiller Crisis (Focus, Oct. 4): The sad truth is that Canadian veterinarians get five times more pain training than do physicians. A study I led in 2010 revealed that family physicians get fewer than four hours of chronic pain training (yet they manage the bulk of chronic pain patients). In most residency programs, the content on addiction is even more meagre. The bulk of currently active clinical teachers for trainees also lack chronic-pain expertise. And access to pain specialists in Canada is seriously restricted.

Those of us who practise pain management know chronic pain requires an approach which combines mind-based, movement- based, and self-management programs with judicious medication, including opiates. However, I agree that combining ill-prepared clinicians with overly busy practices has led to excessive reliance on prescription medications, with disastrous complications.

Ruth E. Dubin, chair, chronic pain committee, College of Family Physicians Canada


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A doctor once explained the proliferation of prescription opioids in chronic-pain management as follows: It takes five seconds to say yes, 10 minutes to say no.

Marc Sheckter, Saskatoon


First female PM, eh

Put Kim Campbell's likeness on currency as the first Canadian female PM? Let's not (The Daily Battles Of Feminism Don't Come With Backup Dancers – Oct. 4).

Ms. Campbell was an unelected choice for leadership by the 1993 Progressive Conservatives. In assuming control from an unpopular Brian Mulroney, Ms. Campbell was the PC's Hail Mary pass to win over the electorate and retain power. After little more than four months and still under the shadow of Mr. Mulroney, the PCs collapsed from 154 seats to a measly two – and Ms. Campbell's wasn't one of them. Getting a whiff of the prime ministership isn't the same as winning it. I'm still waiting for that first.

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Sandra MacPherson, Vancouver


To market, to market

Re Rewrite Canada's Energy Script (Oct. 6): There are a couple of flies in the ointment strategy that Kevin Lynch suggests to get Canada's resources to global markets.

How does he propose getting a coast-to-coast, public energy-transportation corridor past the First Nations, the environmentalists and the multimillion-dollar, legal cottage-industry that opposes pretty much all pipelines?

The latest salvo comes from Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who's announced his mayoral candidacy will rest on fighting the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Let's face it, some "appropriate public consultation," as Mr. Lynch proposes, will not get the job done.

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Nancy Marley-Clarke, Calgary


Nudge, nudge

I'd have some sympathy for those who demand that the government "stop nudging me," if they'd also stop demanding that the same government pay for the effects of their poor choices in life (I'm An Adult. Stop Nudging Me – Oct. 4). If the increasing demand for "free" health care and social services can be slowed or reversed by government nudging, then bring it on. I much prefer that to the alternatives – rationing or huge tax increases.

Murray Howland, Calgary


Margaret Wente thinks city planners who advocate more dedicated bike lanes are trying to nudge her into riding her bike. I say leave Ms. Wente alone. If she doesn't want to ride her bike in Toronto, that's her decision.

She is an adult, after all.

But I'm also an adult and I'd like to ride my bike in Toronto. But, just like her, I'm afraid to do so.

That is precisely why I want city planners to add more dedicated bike lanes and paths. That would let people like me ride safely and would garner the social benefits that Ms. Wente enumerates: less traffic congestion and pollution (among other benefits). I'm sure there are many others like me.

Maybe even Ms. Wente would bike occasionally if it were safe – or maybe not. I don't really care.

Abe Gottesman, Toronto


Mouths of babes …

Re Out Of The Potty-Mouths Of Babes (Fact & Arguments, Oct. 3): Jerry Amernic's clock minus the "l" story still has me smiling.

I was reminded of this summer when our two-year-old granddaughter visited our farm. We went to feed my beloved donkeys, which I always refer to as "my beauty girls." When her grandpa asked her what she did at the barn, she beamed with pride. "I helped feed the booty girls!"

Dawn Sword, Pontypool, Ont.

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