Fan Mail

I am always grateful for thoughtful commentaries on my articles, whether supportive or critical. This year provided another bumper crop.

Responding to my second Pharmacare article, a surgeon friend raged against the tendency for physicians to overprescribe when drugs have little or no cost:

“We call it “polypharmacy”, and it is the scourge of the elderly. Often when patients are admitted …the first thing we do is to stop ALL medication, and to start them on appropriate medications one by one only as the need arises.”

The article about the Drake courses for teachers provoked many responses. One of the more thoughtful:

“I completely disagree with some of your misinformed conclusions about Drake University, teacher wages and pensions… this course was every bit as difficult as my MSVU masters. It was an extremely valuable course for a PE teacher. While I do agree that some teachers should not be permitted to take this degree, we should not be labeling the course as “bird” courses.”

Actually, we had more agreement than the writer thought. I never characterized the program as a “bird” course. More importantly, we seemed to agree that there should be some alignment between the courses for which teachers are rewarded and the subjects they are teaching.

The government’s clumsy introduction of needed changes to the film industry subsidy left them wide open to attack from an industry of professional communicators. Supporting the government’s direction, although not their tactics, was not popular.

Industry advocates succeeded in filling the newspapers with numbers vastly greater than the facts on the ground:

“McNeil is wrong, the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit questions have not been answered! Why is McNeil driving 2700-3000 good jobs out of Nova Scotia? Why do the Libs think that it is good to strip $100’s of millions out of the Nova Scotia economy every year?”

One correspondent was more succinct than me on the arbitration fiasco with health care unions:

“When one knows exactly what one wants and will have none other, as seems to be what Mr. Glavine is saying, then arbitration is either a grave mistake or window dressing. On hiring a window dresser, always one must make sure she/he will take direction. The Liberals should really have set down their will in the first place, and spared us the drama.”

My article on scientists feeling muzzled was not as critical as it should have been of the control-obsessive tactics of the Harper government.

During the federal election campaign, I wrote a piece looking at the pluses and minuses of each leader. The one on Harper received lots of comments like:

“I’m disappointed today that your election analysis … doesn’t include an expression of hope for a party that respects, and works within, our democracy and traditions. Harper can’t hold a candle to the likes of Bob Stanfield, Joe Clark or Bill Casey. The man is a thug…”

I strive to be non-partisan in my writing but you can’t deny your history:

“Bill: You folks must take back your party. You are a progressive conservative, not a neo-con, not a Canadian Alliance member, not a Reformer. I have great respect for the old guard. I voted for some of them. Harper has to go.”

These comments and many like them were pretty good indicators of what was to come.

The article on Syrian refugees was warmly received:

“Excellent article today…. We will be happy to welcome as many refugees as we can happily integrate.” “One of your best articles! Keep up the good work and words.”

And this from a correspondent who last year employed his enthusiasm for punctuation to criticize my position on another matter:

“Today’s paper has the BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Editorial you have ever written. I too am a refugee but from within the borders of Canada. I was a foster child…”

We were in Florida when the piece in support of refugees was written. Canadians who have fretted that we are not sufficiently distinct from Americans can stop worrying. Our ardently Republican neighbours there are nice people, but I had to discourage the lady of the house from handing out copies of the article.

Canadians can be proud of the many positive responses to the crisis. Like a certain innkeeper 2,000 years ago, each of us decides if there is room for us to welcome a refugee.

Merry Christmas.


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