As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles's 'perseverance is inspirational' -

As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles’s ‘perseverance is inspirational’

Letters to the editor, Oct. 19, 2018: Maclean’s readers weigh in on a tragic case of early-onset Alzheimer’s, the legalization of marijuana and Trans Mountain failures


Robin Giles reads to her 41-year-old husband Jo Aubin, who has Alzheimer's. (Chris Donovan)

In September, Shannon Proudfoot revisited the tragic story of Jo Aubin, a 41-year-old sufferer of Alzheimer’s who’s struggled with the disease for three years.

I am so extremely touched by this article and cannot give enough praise to Robin Giles for caring for her husband, Joël Aubin. This story about human endurance, the support of family and friends, and the medical system in all it can and cannot do, is so well told. It also brings attention to assisted death. I, for one, would applaud this decision in such situations, but there needs to be advance consent. My heart goes out to you, Robin, in all that you are and have done.
Nesta Yeo, Little Harbour, N.S.

Robin Giles’s single-minded focus to shelter what she can of her husband Jo’s dignity amid the inevitably steep costs that come with such perseverance is inspirational.
Ellen MacLeod, Chelsea, Que.

Ready for pot?

In September, Jason Markusoff wrote our cover story about the patchwork of half-baked, absurd marijuana laws that proved Canada wasn’t ready for legal weed—even as legalization day beckoned. He asks: Did it have to be like this?

Thank you for your informative article about the coming social upheaval that will not occur on Oct. 17 due to Canadians having the freedom to enjoy pot. There will not be lineups for pot (except for those who line up for everything from popes to ice cream). There will not be hordes of drug enforcement officers asking people to touch their nose with their elbow. Cops have better things to do, they have dealt with this for years, and many partake. Seniors will not be flocking to a skater boy’s weed shop to buy marijuana because “we don’t understand the internet” (dude, we invented the internet; you’re just playing with it and don’t appreciate its potential). Teenagers will not listen to adults or MADD or any other “expert.” They are teenagers, so despite our efforts they will discover on their own that being high is more manageable than drunk driving. What will not happen is an apology to all the inmates in Canada incarcerated because of the war on drugs.
Robert Graham, Claremont, Ont.

The article on pot brought to mind the famous quote by Ogden Nash, who wrote in 1931, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker,” to which he added in the 1960s, “Pot is not.” Need more be said?
Emile Therien, Ottawa

It is estimated that up to $1 billion of tax revenue will be created with the legalization of marijuana, to be shared by the various levels of government. The hypothetical benefits of legalization include lower crime rates and a medical alternative to opioid use. Our Prime Minister even states that it will protect our children and communities. But the social costs to the government and employers could well be enormous. Many users of marijuana believe that it is the cure-all for many ailments. But the long-term medical benefits remain unproven. There are serious health effects associated with the consumption of marijuana, and when people begin using it as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory and learning functions. These conditions could be present for all workers who consume. People will eventually develop a dependence and will claim disability payments. It is suspected that recreational marijuana legalization will cause workers’ compensation and disability claims to dramatically climb, as the side effects associated with marijuana consumption become more prevalent. And due to the adverse effects of marijuana use in the workplace, drug testing will now be essential. There needs to be an objective cost-benefit analysis to shed light on the gains and losses to individuals and to society from the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Roger Cyr, Victoria

Get ready to vote, Canada

In September, our editorial reminded voters the next federal election was just over a year away.

I agree it’s time to educate oneself regarding political issues and party platforms. The problem is that people believe they are informed when all they watch is U.S. news or selected YouTube videos spreading misinformation, or they rely on social-media opinions. I believe good old Canadian news channels, newspapers or magazines, where information is checked for accuracy and imparts a homegrown perspective, are important to informing oneself about issues that affect us.
Martha Hergert, Calgary

Trump hating

Your latest issue was dedicated to all things cannabis, however, almost all comments in your Letters section expressed a visceral hate for U.S. President Donald Trump. He’s someone we as Canadians do not vote for. But he is someone who can affect Canadian lives. Many described him as a bully. But let us hope he can do something useful with his bullying of Canada and get our federal government to spend more on our grossly undersized and under-resourced armed forces. Perhaps a few more new ships for our navy and some new (not used rejects from Australia) planes and a few icebreakers for our winter patrols. We depend on the United States to protect North America. We could do a lot more and be proud of Canada. Canada’s spending on our courageous armed forces is not enough and makes Canada look and act cheap. Let’s fix some of our own shortcomings before we launch more insults at America and its duly elected president.
John Bakker, Dundas, Ont.

Anti-abortion lobby

I appreciate Maclean’s and Anne Kingston bringing this alarming agenda to light. Of course, social conservatives are free to make decisions for themselves, but how dare they try to deny such fundamental autonomy for others? Anti-abortion lobbyists say they advocate for life. But why is their focus on bringing embryos created by misfortune to term and blocking people who want a dignified exit? Why aren’t so-called pro-lifers strategizing, advertising, mobilizing and fundraising for better laws and conditions for our Indigenous peoples, for all refugees, for disabled people, for veterans and fellow humans with mental health issues, for LGBTQ folks, for people trapped by poverty or crime, for victims of weather disasters or violence? These are some of the throngs within our own borders whom social conservatives’ supposed compassion excludes. What is “pro” about focusing on pre-life and those who want help to exit their pain? How about instead embracing the people who are indisputably alive and fervently hope to stay that way? I wonder if social conservatives, who no doubt see themselves as moral high-grounders, also care about the many thousands of Syrians who have been killed or drowned, or if they even know who the Rohingya are, let alone the travesty they’re enduring? I don’t imagine pro-life lobbyists are too busy adopting babies and volunteering for palliative care work to pay attention to the more than 400 million people who already exist and are on the move across this planet because their lives are intolerable. For the sake of honesty, pro-lifers should rename themselves “pro-some-lives.”
Elinor Campbell-Lawrence, Kingston, Ont.

Once again, this subject rears its ugly head and the debate gets fanned by articles like this. For once, could you all in the media use different language? These people aren’t “anti-abortion,” they are anti-choice. They want to impose their beliefs on others. If you don’t want an abortion because it isn’t for you, then don’t have one! There is no such thing as banning abortions, only banning safe abortions. I have lived in a world without safe access—not good for anyone. Those two messages need to be repeated ad nauseam so they get heard very, very clearly. Maclean’s, I expect better reporting, and that includes language that speaks the truth and doesn’t repeat the same BS rhetoric I have had to listen to my whole life.
Susan Johnston, RN, Vancouver

The next election

John Geddes discusses the issues that would be important if the election were held today. A year is a long time in politics, and the coming months will be particularly crucial for Canada because of [the renegotiated] NAFTA deal and Trump’s trade shenanigans. The election, like most elections, will be decided not by personalities, as Geddes suggests, but on what people are feeling in their pockets at that time. If trade issues are amicably resolved and Canadians are prospering, no hectoring by opposition on the carbon tax, the number and race of immigrants or pharmacare costs will matter. If the economy is tanking, these issues will make Trudeau a one-term prime minister.
Sudhir Jain, Calgary

Western rancour

Alberta and Kenney are B.C.’s worst enemy. Their dilbit is the dirtiest on the planet. They’re the sloppiest operators in the industry. No thanks. I have no interest in putting B.C.’s environment at risk for those clowns, nor any interest in seeing them get more money to play with. The rest of the country’s not much of a partner either.
John Stark, Richmond, B.C.


I agree with Scott Gilmore, and not just because I, too, lived in Flin Flon, Man. As a farm kid growing up in Baldur, Man., and years later as the MLA for Flin Flon in northern Manitoba, I watched small, isolated communities withering around me. Gilmore’s truth is that market economies care nothing for culture, pride of place or attachment to the land. This truth is more poignant for First Nations leaders and their communities. First Nations communities are creatures of outdated treaties signed a century ago, and they are beholden to a bureaucratic system that both supports their communities and entraps their residents. There is a way out: embrace the idea of urban reserves where First Nations members can find jobs and access the health, education and social services enjoyed by growing urban populations around the world. First Nations leaders and our government must acknowledge the underlying economic reality that is creating dysfunction and suffering in many First Nations. A new approach could honour the spirit of the treaties and be a meaningful addition to our efforts at reconciliation. Not starting down that path condemns the next generation of Indigenous children to living with the flawed solutions of the past.
Jerry Storie, Winnipeg

Trans Mountain

In August, columnist Pam Palmeter wrote about the real failure of the proposedTrans Mountain pipeline expansion.

No one has ever described how, when we finally get our wish—the destruction of our own industry—life will be better environmentally. What if the opposite is true? Meanwhile, Albertan families, including First Nations, are suffering, and to what end? The stress of having to raise children in poverty leads to abuse, broken families and unhappy and unhealthy children and adults. Ironically, you are the same person who will cry for more funding for mental health, education, health care—all desperately needed. Where would you like that funding to come from? My friends who escaped Venezuela watch in horror as Canadians practically lobby to get our oil from the U.S., Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia. Each time Canadians fill up their tanks, they should think about where they want it to come from. Do I wish we could stop extracting oil tomorrow? Obviously, and I know that time will come. I am an environmentalist who wholeheartedly supports our Canadian industry over that of countries with no environmental standards.
Jeannette Page, Calgary

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