Ditching sugar, physician-assisted death and 'a marriage made in heaven'

Good point

I find it quite ironic, and very disturbing, that the Canadian Forces, who have played a major role in fighting for and preserving women’s rights in Afghanistan, won’t apply those same rights to the Canadian women in their own ranks (“Our military’s disgrace,” National, May 5). While I applaud those who are courageous enough to protect us from the “enemy at the gates,” why is there no one to protect them from the enemy within?

Grant Budgeon, Crossfield, Alta.

Sugar, sugar

I have been a huge sugar-eater for most of my life (“Sugar overload,” Society, May 12). From the ages of 25 to 45, I gained about two pounds a year. I went from size 30 jeans to size 36. Three years ago, I decided to cut about 80 per cent of my sugar consumption. I shed 40 lb. in about 18 months without starving and I am back to size 30 jeans. As a bonus, I gained in well-being and energy and my cravings for sugar have decreased considerably. Getting away from my 45 years of sugar addiction was among the best decisions of my life.

Benoit Pelchat, Kazabazua, Que.

This article ends by suggesting we should have “clear guidelines on how much sugar we should have in a day.” That’s silly. We need to eat so our body is provided with vitamins, minerals, essential acids, fats, etc., so it can function at an optimal level. If our body is not getting the nutrients it needs, it will continue to crave them. Eating the wrong foods in an effort to satisfy that need is a sad cycle that can lead to obesity. Canada’s Food Guide says we should eat fruit, vegetables, dairy items, etc., all of which have natural sugars our body loves to use. Processed sugars have no nutritional value; in your article, doctors are calling them toxic. We need a guideline for this? It had better be zero. Adding a daily guideline for sugar would be misleading and totally unnecessary. I don’t even want to think about how the food and drink industry would twist that “daily guideline.”

Janet Tovey, Mississauga, Ont.

Your cover shows a man in a bag of sugar with the tagline “The average Canadian eats nearly 100 lb. of sugar a year.” This is misleading, as that number is rounded up from 88 lb. (40 kg), which represents total sugars (naturally occurring and added), not just granulated sugar, as shown in the cover image. This problem is seen again in the “How much sugar do you consume in a year?” diagram in the article. The text states that the sugar-consumption figures represent total sugars. However, there is again only granulated sugar being used to represent these numbers.

Sandra Marsden, President, Canadian Sugar Institute, Toronto

The World Health Organization says that, for a normal-sized adult, the preferred limit for daily intake of so-called added sugars would be six teaspoons, or 25 grams, per day, and half this for a child. Most products show the amount of grams of sugar in a serving, but the serving varies; for breakfast cereals, this may be ½ cup or ¾ cup. The cereal industry should either decide on a standard serving or give the percentage of sugar by weight. Some may be surprised at how high this number would be; one kids’ cereal on store shelves is more than 50 per cent sugar, specifically, 16 grams of sugar in a 30-gram serving. One serving of this would be more than what the WHO recommends as the daily intake for a child.

Julian Swann, Ottawa

No guarantee of bigotry

Emma Teitel describes Trinity Western University’s law school as a “homophobic institution” and implies that those who support its accreditation are at least short-sighted, if not outright “jerks” (“An objection we should we wise to raise,” May 12). She completely ignores the Civil Marriage Act, the act in which Parliament recognized gay marriage. The act’s preamble includes the following: “Whereas nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs . . . Whereas it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage.” The act does not say that expressing a belief in the traditional view of marriage is bigoted, akin to racism or repulsive. Rather, it encourages respect for freedom of religion, and tolerance for differing views on marriage. Inevitably, there will be differences of opinion on appropriate sexual conduct in our diverse society. Major religions are not going to change their views simply because the views of secular society have changed.

Gerald Kent, Cranbrook, B.C.

Students at Trinity Western will not be influenced by the attitude of the school to premarital sex of any variety any more than past students were persuaded by our nation’s drug and alcohol laws. I am more concerned about the thought police than I am about the bigots. The bigots seem to be losing, but I am concerned that the thought police are thriving. Not recognizing a law school because it doesn’t have fashionable views is wrong; we should have diversity among law schools. The Law Society of B.C. may remember the case Martin v. Law Society of B.C., a decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal in 1950 that upheld the law society’s decision to refuse enrolment to Martin because of his Communist affiliations. That case is still taught in law schools because it is now seen as a clear violation of civil liberties.

Tom Bishop, Campbell River, B.C.

Perhaps Emma Teitel has forgotten that, in 2001, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association strongly supported Trinity Western University’s (TWU) teacher-accreditation application before the Supreme Court of Canada. The court’s ruling clearly stated that no credible evidence existed that graduating TWU teachers would bring an anti-gay bias into their classrooms. There is nothing to suggest that TWU law graduates would act any less professionally. In Teitel’s rush to deny accreditation to TWU law graduates, she would do well to look into the university’s excellent academic programs and its numerous alumni who have distinguished themselves in meritorious and humanitarian endeavours.

Henry Wedel, Winnipeg

Taking on the ivory trade ban

I am sad to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Barbara Amiel: “Banning ivory won’t save any elephants” (May 12). I do not knowingly possess any ivory and I love elephants. But it is a shame to make ivory so rare that even more elephants are killed because the supply is limited and the price goes up. We should flood the market so that ivory is cheap, and give the profits to groups involved in tourism, as well as rescuing, rehabilitating and breeding elephants.

Vickie Lee Ulph, Calgary

The total trade ban on ivory in 1989 reduced poaching, and elephant populations recovered because the price of ivory fell sharply. Only the trade exceptions allowed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1999 and 2008 encouraged poaching to the extent that we see now. I cannot believe that someone such as Amiel, who likes elephants and fostered elephant orphans at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, can then propose that “elephants could be farmed and carefully culled for a sustainable ivory industry.” Nor does Amiel understand what the destruction of ivory stockpiles means. Not only is it symbolic, it means that, if all ivory is destroyed and none remains in the market, there can be no more trade in it—no trade, no demand, no poaching. Elephants urgently need the return of the total trade ban on ivory of 1989. There must never be trade exceptions again. Otherwise, poaching and illegal trade will never stop and elephants will become extinct within a decade.

Birgit Hanan, Germany


Anyone could assume with certainty that corporations, large and small, will take advantage of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program as it’s currently designed (“Workers of the world, not sure we need you,” Economy, May 12). The Conservative government effectively pays business to hire foreign workers so corporations can pay less than they would a Canadian. Why are we not up in arms? The Prime Minister is fully aware of the TFW disaster, yet continues to believe that the next program tweak will be the solution. The real solution is for government to get out of the way of the free-market system. It has never, and will never, create a single Canadian job that is not paid for by your taxes and mine.

Jim Lauder, Peterborough, Ont.

Business works for the perpetuation of profits and cares nothing for the welfare of its employees, customers or society in general. Business “ethics” don’t exist. I know business owners who espouse Christian values one day a week, yet are right in there with the rest of their cronies, making profits on the backs of their slaves. TFWs need a union. One employee has no power, but together they can keep business a little bit honest. Customer boycotts don’t work: We continue to buy cheap sweatshop goods, no matter how many foreign factory workers die in unsafe working conditions; we support big businesses whose CEOs make huge salaries and bonuses, but whose workers need food banks; and we turn a blind eye to the plight of TFWs. Labour unions should be using this issue to point out the problems all workers face, be they unionized or not.

Jim Wolff, Meadow Lake, Sask.

Death-defining decisions

Letter-writer Steven Passmore entirely misunderstands the intent of my two private member’s bills that deal with physician-assisted death (“The ‘easy’ way out,” Letters, May 12). As a C4 quadriplegic, completely paralyzed from the neck down, I am trying to live my life to its fullest potential; I hope Mr. Passmore, who has cerebral palsy, does the same. The bills I introduced try to empower competent adults to make decisions for themselves based on their own values and ethics. Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. These bills increase choice. Competent adults can make voluntary decisions. There are safeguards in the bills that ensure this will be so. There is no slippery slope. Every individual should have the right to die with dignity. Too many people are killing themselves by starving to death in nursing homes; technology is prolonging lives far longer than those individuals could have chosen to. My second bill will shine light into the dark corners of “the system” and bring more transparency to how people are closing life’s circle. These bills enhance Canadians’ choice and rights, whereas, at present, the moratorium on assisted death in Section 241 of the Criminal Code is imposing a law that most Canadians disagree with. We will always make life the first choice, but sometimes all the resources in the world cannot stop the pain and suffering. It is time that we have an honest conversation about this in Canada.

Steven Fletcher, Conservative MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia, Headingley, Man.

Out of order

The story “Our military’s disgrace” (National, May 5) says leadership is required to correct the problem. We need not just military leadership, but political leadership, particularly Stephen Harper’s; this has been going on all the years he has been Prime Minister. For a “law and order” man to do nothing about rape and sexual assault is unconscionable.

Ray Jones, Kamloops, B.C.

Holy matrimony

Theologists are now saying that Jesus had a wife (“Son of God—and a husband?” Society, April 28). Wow, that sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

Terry Toll, Campbell’s Bay, Que.