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I read the intelligent, insightful column from Norbert Gilmore wherein he suggested using heroin to end the fentanyl crisis (How To Fight The Fentanyl Epidemic, Feb. 13).
There is no need for alarm, this has been tried in several European countries successfully. The results were even better than Dr. Gilmore's piece suggested. The patients (yes, one refers to a person who has a medical condition as a patient) are given a dose of heroin, which they inject in a supervised facility, then go about their day. Many patients have successfully weaned themselves from heroin voluntarily, because they have re-established normalcy in their lives. They have reconnected with their families, have jobs and places to live, for which they pay. Crime by addicts has declined dramatically, as has street dealing.
Society is much better off as a result, and the people of those countries are now even more accepting of this treatment than they were when it began.
Bruce Symington, Medicine Hat
Gary Mason says, "We can't even fathom the outrage that would be incited if the same type of program was rolled out involving white children in this country" (The Punishing Sixties Scoop, Feb. 17). Really?
Beginning in 1953, the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors had their children seized from them by the RCMP and the federal and B.C. governments. The children were incarcerated in a residential school in New Denver, B.C., where some were said to have been physically and sexually abused. The B.C. government has never apologized, let alone paid compensation; it merely has issued a statement of regret.
Ann Snead, St. Catharines, Ont.
Konrad Yakabuski offers a cogent view of the still simmering debate swirling around identity politics in Quebec (Quebec Can't Keep Politics Out Of The Identity Debate, Feb. 16).
There is no question that the French-speaking majority cannot seem to arrive at any accommodation regarding immigrants unless those newcomers meet embedded social norms. It doesn't seem to matter that some of these required elements may violate both the Quebec and Canadian charters, as well as several declarations from the United Nations.
However, compounding this serious societal schism is another division – the grossly unfair electoral district distributions that still give far more political power to the regions at the expense of the urban areas.
While the current debate regarding religious accommodation and the wearing (or not wearing) of religious symbols will continue to engross Quebec as various factions ramp up the rhetoric, the far more basic issue of voter imbalance within the province remains hidden.
Jon Bradley, Montreal
Costs of defence
Michael Byers makes an heroic effort to exaggerate the scale of Canada's defence spending by claiming that spending should include elements of the budgets of the RCMP, Canadian Border Services Agency and Canadian Coast Guard (Canada Doesn't Deserve Its Reputation As A Defence Laggard, Feb. 16).
I am shocked the professor failed to include monies allocated to fishery officers of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. These federal enforcement personnel are uniformed and often armed, and they work on land, fresh water and the oceans. Their funding would have helped to raise his supposed defence dollars even higher.
Mark Collins, Ottawa
There's been much talk about the appropriate level of Canada's defence spending. Two per cent of gross domestic product is being used as a yardstick. Far better to define Canada's needs to defend itself and to share the burden of alliances with organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations.
Only after such an exercise has been completed can the required level of defence spending be established. This is more difficult to do, since it requires assumptions and judgment calls, which are subject to scrutiny and debate. But is that such a bad thing?
Tony Manera, Ottawa
British Columbia's pre-election throne speech is the latest missed opportunity for the provincial government to stand up for B.C. families and communities amid the global shift to a low carbon economy (What The Throne Speech Didn't Tell You About British Columbia, Feb. 14.)
British Columbians have been waiting far too long for the government to secure B.C.'s economic future in today's changing world.
With last year's weak climate plan, the government made little progress on laying the groundwork for a clean growth century in British Columbia and failed to get rising carbon pollution under control. As other provinces and countries make plans to reduce carbon pollution and take advantage of new economic opportunities, the B.C. government's inaction risks B.C. being left behind. With last week's throne speech, we were disappointed to not see a renewed commitment to get British Columbia back on track.
British Columbians deserve a government with the courage to say yes to the clean growth and green jobs that will safeguard our economic future.
The throne speech did little to advance the certainty and stability that British Columbians are looking for.
Josha MacNab, B.C. director at the Pembina Institute, Vancouver
Memories of McLean
I first heard Stuart McLean on Peter Gzowski's Morningside program on CBC Radio and felt an instant affection for him (McLean's Truly Canadian Voice Falls Silent, Feb. 16).
A few years later, he had his own show, and I tried to never miss a broadcast. In 1995, I learned he would be coming to a bookstore in Burlington, Ont., to sign his book. Perfect timing. An autographed book for me and my parents. I arrived 10 minutes early, and saw a small wooden desk, and an empty chair behind it. On the desk was a simple sign that read: "The Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean."
Putting in time, I was looking at books, and noticed a man about my age doing the same. I had not seen Mr. McLean, nor even a picture of him, but he looked exactly like he should look. "Stuart?" I asked.
"Yes?" he said. We chatted for a few minutes, with me laughing about his stories, his interactions with Mr. Gzowski, and of course his famous "sleeping cricket" story. After five minutes, he looked over at the empty desk, with no one still in front of it, and said, "Do you think I should sign your book before the line gets any longer?"
His wry and subtle humour will be missed.
John Kelton, Hamilton