Gearing Up; Post-Scripts; Traffic Jam

Illustration by Kellen Hatanaka
Illustration by Kellen Hatanaka
Gearing Up

John Lorinc provides an eagle-eyed survey of a contemporary phenomenon that’s vitally relevant to Canadians (“Armed and Dangerous,” December). But pointing out that “cops have taken to wearing camouflage pants” in Montreal and Quebec City misleads the reader.

Cops in Quebec are not dressing up in fatigues; they’re dressing down in camouflage and military-style mufti that anyone can buy at Walmart. It’s part of a widespread on-the-job protest against changes to municipal pension plans; many public employees are sporting off-colour khakis and faded jeans. The point they’re all making in garish unison is that they feel like lame ducks—not warriors.

This isn’t the first time coverage of La Belle Province in The Walrus has seemed indiscriminately provincial.

Jonathan Rau Chaplin
Montreal, QC

In the United States, heroin is the go-to drug when an unmanaged addict can no longer afford legal opioids. And unlike in Canada, there is no central database of prescription paper trails, hence pill mills in Florida, and doctors and pharma companies interested only in profit.

Patrick Haughey
Savannah, GA

Recently, I asked a police chief at a public meeting, “Whom do you report to? ” He laughed and said, “That’s a good question. Certainly not the politicians. I guess I report to the force.”

When Ontario Provincial Police officers are charged with criminal offences, they can remain on the force with full salary and pension rights before trial—if the trial even begins before they retire. It appears that our police are beyond democratic control. They even destroy reputations, by announcing investigations without ever pressing charges. Equipment suitable for the French Foreign Legion or the Navy SEALs is a fitting symbol of their power.

Carl Turkstra
Hamilton, ON

You ask on your December cover, “Is this the future of the police? ” I wonder where you were during the Toronto G20? What about Ferguson? As they say, the future is now.

The police have long been known to consider the public the enemy. Are they simply upping their matériel for another offensive against Canadians?

Ryan Neily
Halifax, NS

Maybe the days of To Serve and Protect are going away, if they’ve not yet gone entirely. Can we expect to see a new motto, To Command and Control, on police cruisers?

Peter Watson
Peterborough, ON


Dan Werb offers a great examination of a pressing public-health issue (“Oxy Town,” December). But Gary’s “habit of sixty over-the-counter Tylenol pills a day” would have killed him after day one. The fatal dose of acetaminophen for an adult is approximately ten grams. That works out to about thirty regular-strength pills, at 325 milligrams each. Besides, Tylenol does not produce euphoric effects. As a health-care worker, I think the detail comes off as a discordant, implausible note amid otherwise excellent reporting.

Joshua Chapman
Perham, MN

After Oxy was delisted in Ontario, we predicted a switch by MDs to hydromorphone; by users to hyrdo, heroin, and fentanyl. We predicted a rise in accidental overdoses. This has happened.

“Oxy Town” does not mention naloxone, which the World Health Organization recommends as an opioid-overdose antidote, and has been used for decades with practically no downside. It’s a proven lifesaver, similar to, but cheaper and less risky than, an EpiPen for anaphylaxis. Canadian reporting on opioids often ignores the withholding of naloxone by the federal and provincial governments.

In the United States, however, communities, health-care providers, and state and federal governments all support naloxone distribution.

MDs and regulators are unlikely to change their systems anytime soon. The opioid epidemic is decades old. In the meantime, naloxone is quick to implement. Withholding it is scandalous at best, and deadly at worst.

Michael Parkinson
Waterloo, ON

Traffic Jam

As the organizer of a recent debate on the new prostitution bill, C-36, I am familiar with the emotional discourse surrounding sex-trafficking numbers (“Dirty Tricks,” December). Both sides of the broader debate, for legalization and for abolition, have a tendency to distort statistics. And as Alexandra Kimball indicates, each side has a hidden agenda: the legalization camp sees money to be made, while the abolitionists see sin.

We cannot deny that this debate is a moral one, and not simply a matter of mathematical analysis. Should society simply condone the selling of sexual services, primarily by women to men? Progress requires equality, and the abolition of prostitution is a stepping stone toward greater gender equality. As long as it is profitable and socially acceptable for women to sell their bodies, the practice will continue. The solution is to remove the demand from the market and encourage women to seek alternative means of employment. Sweden’s prostitution laws (passed in 1999 and the model for Bill C-36) have led to a precipitous drop in human trafficking and the sale of sexual services in that country—numbers, yet again.

What’s clear: we must choose between believing our fellow Canadians sometimes have to resort to prostitution to earn a living, and believing that we can offer them something better.

Jonathan Brun
Montreal, QC

This appeared in the March 2015 issue.

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter, an email (letters@thewalrus.ca), or a tweet, or post on this website. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5

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