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Jan. 9: Send that couch this way. Plus other letters to the editor

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: letters@globeandmail.com

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Send that couch here

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As I write this, I have just returned from an emergency night-time visit to a Hamilton hospital. Two weary paramedics attended to me in the frigid Emergency entranceway. With no beds available, no seats for family members or workers, we joined the procession of uniformed caregivers and their charges. Nine hours later, I noted that the lineup was impossibly longer.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill Morneau says, regarding health services, that "the federal government has limited fiscal capacity as well."

Here's a thought for him: Bill, how about redirecting half of that $500-million for Canada's birthday celebrations? We'll buy our own fireworks. At least ship that travelling couch this way!

Don Pilcher, Burlington, Ont.

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Every time we try to throw a party in this country, we get the same arguments against spending money on celebrations considered frivolous. The same voices helped kill Toronto's chances of hosting the Olympics in 1996.

You know what? Spending taxpayer money to give our country a big party is worth it. I think the Red Couch Tour is a brilliant idea that will enable us to hear stories from individual Canadians across our country, and allow us to know each other just that much better.

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Sure, the $500-million celebration budget could be well spent on poverty reduction. But to let every opportunity for national celebration and pride fall by the wayside because it is "squandering precious financial resources" is a path that leads to a dilution of our national identity in the name of fiscal boringness.

Jason Shron, Thornhill, Ont.

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How pointless to commission a poll asking whether the Government of Canada should provide financial support for the Canada 150 celebrations (Canadians Proud Of Country But Not Yet Engaged By 150th – Jan. 6). Few people would object to that, as the poll confirms. Now, if the poll had asked if the government should allocate half a billion to the celebration, I think the results would have been very different!

Luke Mastin, Toronto

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Help our vets

Re Feds Won't Say Whether They'll Probe Handling Of War Veteran In Apparent Murder-Suicide (Jan. 6): I am heartsick about this story. This Canadian served his country. When he needed help, where was it? For him and for his family? The Canadian Forces, Veterans Affairs, the health system? And now the finger-pointing begins.

What is the point of spending half a billion dollars celebrating all that is great about Canada on our 150th birthday, if we can't properly help our veterans?

Much more than a tweet of condolence is needed from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Maureen Hulbert, Toronto

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Kill the shootouts

Re Canada Loses To U.S. In Shootout (Jan. 6): Why, oh why, are there shootouts in hockey championships? Can you imagine a tied Game 7 of the World Series being halted after one extra inning, with the winner being determined through a home-run derby? Or a tied Super Bowl being decided with a punt-pass-kick competition? No, because the best team can only be determined through team competition.

Let the games continue until one side wins, as a team.

Larry Gordon, Toronto

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Trump's narrative

Re Trump Rebuffed By U.S. Intelligence Chief Over Russian Hacking (Jan. 6): The obvious question is why – why is Donald Trump dismissive of any Russian involvement in hacking the American election? The Donald's narrative is to be the great détente-maker between the U.S. and Russia. Russian hacking does not fit into this narrative. Thus, the denial.

He knows nothing about Russian spying, yet he pretends to know something. Most of what he says is totally unsubstantiated and simply opinion.

We give him too much credit.

Graham Steeves, Port Elgin, Ont.

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Expect more of less

It's no surprise our Finance Minister has announced that more deficits lie ahead (Federal Report Projects Decades Of Deficits – Jan. 6). With monetary stimulus ineffective, spending may boost the economy temporarily. But policymakers are overlooking underlying demographics. Our aging population means consumers will spend less; our low fertility rate falls below what's needed to maintain Canada's population, excluding net immigration.

The U.S. economy may be recovering from the 2008/2009 recession, but the United States also has aging boomers and a low birth rate. The Federal Reserve seems to be an island of calm in a sea of policy storms.

So what can Canadians expect?

Fewer federal and provincial benefits, higher taxes and tolls, rising interest rates and renewed inflation. This new austerity will require households to become independent, spend less than their income, eliminate debt and build an emergency reserve.

Norm Stefnitz, Burlington, Ont.

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For good. Or evil

Kate Taylor in her review of Martin Scorsese's Silence writes that she can't understand how "in a secular age" we would find it realistic for the Japanese Christians to choose torture and death over giving up their faith (That's Me In The Spotlight, Losing My Religion – Life & Arts, Jan. 6).

Human history abounds with examples of people choosing faith over life, from the Christian martyrs in the Roman arenas to today's jihadist suicide bombers.

In our complex world, we need to understand that faith motivates – for good or evil.

Elizabeth Fernandes, Toronto

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I get it. Do they?

Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray doesn't need to explain his environmental concerns to me (Jobs, The Planet – letters, Jan. 6). I get it.

Three years ago, I embarked on a home renovation project hoping to minimize the environmental impact of a beautiful, old, stone farmhouse. Significantly more than $100,000 went into retrofits, including a ground-source heat pump, geothermal wells and high-capacity duct work, insulation to better-than-code, triple glazing and countless other details in an effort to create an environmentally benign home powered by Mr. Murray's green electricity.

I've done all the right things, without help from subsidies or incentives. How have I been repaid? With hydro bills so high they make my head spin. Now there's cap-and-trade.

What's next? I don't regret my expenditure on behalf of the planet as the home is better in every way, but the net effect of Ontario's energy policies is a disincentive to those who might consider doing as I have done. I would like to know if Mr. Murray is going to subsidize off-grid solar installations. Then I could kiss him and Ontario Hydro goodbye.

Tim Poupore, Balderson, Ont.

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