Letters

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Power plays

Your article about 2012’s “Parliamentarians of the year” (National, Dec. 3) ignores the malaise of Parliament and the diminishing of democracy, as pointed out regularly by your political commentators such as Paul Wells. Question period is a circus. The PMO’s control over elected members seems absolute. Harper’s fist is a shadow everywhere. Your accounts only hint at the trouble.

Adrian Peetoom, Edmonton

One has to wonder how a radio talk-show host such as Calgary’s Dave Rutherford, noted for mollycoddling right-of-centre guests while barely allowing Liberal or NDP guests the ability to finish a sentence without interruption, could possibly qualify for nomination as one of “The 25 most important people in Ottawa” (National, Dec. 3). Sorry, but even as a proud Albertan, and as bright as Dave Rutherford is, I can’t see him in the company of Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Thomas Mulcair, et al.

Marian Burke, Calgary

It’s happening here

Your cover headline asked, “Is Egypt becoming the next Iran?” (Nov. 26), when a better question might be, “Could Egypt become the next Canada?” A religious, right-wing party that triumphs over a larger but more divided left has a familiar ring. If Egypt follows Canada’s script, look for Mohamed Morsi to begin to solidify his control over the apolitical organs of state and maintain an obsessive distrust of the free press. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we read of a fire sale of Egypt’s greatest treasures, the pyramids, to the Chinese. Writer Michael Petrou offers solace to disillusioned voters in both countries when he notes, “Courage alone won’t help the liberals triumph at the ballot box. They are weak and divided. If they want to find a way back to political influence, they must unite.” On that, we are all brothers.

Mike Ward, Duncan, B.C.

The drugs don’t work

Anne Kingston has done an excellent job of exposing Health Canada’s failure to protect its citizens (“ ‘A national embarrassment,’ ” National, Nov. 26). Allowing “10,000-plus Canadians to die each year from a prescription drug taken exactly as prescribed” is a scandal even if this were not “likely a gross understatement.” She mentions Dr. David Healy’s book, Pharmageddon, but not the fact that earlier this year he launched a website (RxISK.org) to monitor information about side effects that the FDA, Health Canada and other regulators have ignored. Unlike the regulators, Healy’s team reviews every report that comes in and provides immediate feedback to patients. Health Canada should be ensuring drugs are safe before allowing them to be prescribed to Canadians. I hope MP Terence Young succeeds in getting a drug safety agency to make this happen.

Julie Wood, Toronto

My hat is off to Terence Young for his efforts to bring the pharmaceutical industry to heel. There is no doubt in my mind that they put enormous pressure on doctors, hospitals and nurses to prescribe (and in some cases over-prescribe) their drugs. Young makes it clear that Canadians are not being protected by Health Canada against unscrupulous companies and their often dangerous drugs.

Del Horn, Nanaimo, B.C.

Yet again government has failed to act in the interests of the Canadian people, choosing, in this case, to act on behalf of multinational pharmaceutical corporations. The information in this article is shocking and should be shouted across the country.

Bonnie Jesten, Kamloops, B.C.

Regarding drugs and their safety, how about legislating that the trial participants can only be pharmaceutical industry executives and their direct families? That should improve the quality of the product.

Graham Tarling, Victoria

New World Vikings

I appreciate Maclean’s interest in my archaeological project related to a Norse presence in Arctic Canada (“A twist in time,” National, Nov. 26). However, the quoted comments from William Fitzhugh, of the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic studies centre, are both inaccurate and unfair in taking me to task for relying on insufficient evidence and in not publishing “responsibly” in the scientific literature. I have published on this subject as early as 2000, and in a 2006 conference paper presented evidence that these early dates were partly the result of chemical contamination. It should not be surprising that we have found new evidence of a Norse presence in the eastern Arctic, given the fact that a small nation of seafarers and hunters existed for over four centuries in Greenland, only two days’ sail from Baffin Island. Yet the topic of New World “Vikings” seems to not only generate automatic controversy among archaeologists, but to bring out their most competitive instincts.

Patricia Sutherland, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

CORRECTION

In the article “The restaurants that matter” (Power List, Dec. 3), auditor general Michael Ferguson was described as eating at Beckta Dining & Wine. Ferguson has never been to that restaurant. Maclean’s regrets the error.




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