Letters: 'If they did not “stand on guard for thee,” who would?'

Maclean's readers write in

Always remember

After recent events in Ottawa and Quebec, this upcoming Remembrance Day will resonate with me more than ever before (“Homegrown madman,” National, Nov. 3). Growing up in a big city, my exposure to the military was minimal. After the last two years living in Victoria, home of Canada’s Pacific naval fleet, I have met and made many friends who serve our country. I can’t imagine what it would be like for their families, friends and me if they were to ever be taken away—especially on home soil. I would take solace in knowing that they committed themselves, personally and professionally and with dedication and devotion, to serving our country and its citizens. On Nov. 11, take more than a moment to reflect and remember those who served and still serve today. Because, if they did not “stand on guard for thee,” who would? Would you?

Jeremy Vail, Victoria

Related reading:
Bearing witness: An oral history of the Ottawa shooting

Of course, the shooting of the guardsman in Ottawa was a tragedy, but surely, no more of one than any death of a soldier overseas who eats sand for months in hellish heat before being blown up or crippled, then returns home to find wholly inadequate provisions to help him cope with his new reality. Of course, it is scary as hell when anybody has to deal with gunfire in her vicinity, but, in the recent instance, our members of Parliament got only a wee taste of what the men and women they send off to war have to chew on regularly. And of course, there will be those who pose as our guardians whose reflex is to insist that changes must be made to our laws that restrict liberty in the name of security, undermining what we claim to value most. The proclaimed enemy in this case was an apparently deeply inadequate and damaged individual who repeatedly failed to get help from a society that claims to be humane. He was grabbing at anything he could in search of some kind of personal identity and relevance. Settle down, Canada: That’s not an act of war. War looks a hell of a lot worse than that. And the “security sector” is doing us nothing but harm in pushing us to act precipitously and out of fear.

John Marian, Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

Public health, public interest

The author of your Nov. 3 editorial chides public health agencies for pointing out the relationship between poverty and factors such as smoking, excessive consumption of sugar and alcohol—telling us instead to focus our energies on fighting infectious diseases. These activities are not mutually exclusive. Addressing living conditions and lack of access to basic health care have been, and still are, among the most effective ways to reduce infectious diseases. From the cholera-carrying water pump in poverty-stricken 19th-century London to today’s Ebola’s scourge in West Africa, infectious diseases are more often than not largely diseases of poverty. Is public health remaining vigilant about identifying and following up on Ebola and other infectious diseases? Absolutely. Do we think it is worthwhile to warn people about the dangers of smoking and the importance of using car seats? Absolutely. Do we think it is only just to share our knowledge that the poorer among us do not have equal opportunities for health? Absolutely. Will we give up trying to identify ways in which Canadians can add years to life and life to years? Absolutely not.

Dr. Valerie Jaeger, Chair, Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health, Thorold, Ont.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, President, Association of Local Public Health Agencies, Sudbury, Ont.

Babysitting the bear hunters

I will never understand how we can have the arrogance to believe that slaughtering any animal to merely remove its head and hide to hang on our wall is acceptable (“Grizzly toll,” National, Nov. 3). I grew up in northern B.C., living on game my father killed, dressed and butchered to feed his family. He hunted to eat. I spent 28 years in the Yukon, watching trophy hunters fly in from the south, pay about $10,000 a week and have a guide babysit them to within 90 m of an unsuspecting grizzly so they could shoot it, then watch the guide take its hide and head while they had a coffee, then brag about what men they were and what sport they had. I say we change the rules. You want a grizzly? The guide gets you within one kilometre and you travel by foot, alone, to face your prey and decide the contest. No rifles, only bowhunting. Be a man instead of a spoiled brat with money and a yearning to kill something. Even better, chuck this barbaric, antiquated tradition in the garbage where it belongs, and leave these magnificent animals and the mountain sheep, moose and black bear alone.

Scott Lyle, Courtenay, B.C.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.