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An Air Canada flight from Mexico City arrives at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on March 20, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

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Pithy Prince

Re Prince Philip, 99, Has Died ‘Peacefully,’ Buckingham Palace Says (April 9): Several years ago when I was master of the Worshipful Company of Barbers (Surgeons) of London, I was invited to a banquet at Mansion House hosted by the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, of which Prince Philip was honorary patron. I was one of the few masters herded into a small room to chat with the Prince before dinner.

When it was my turn, he asked how I, not a medic, ended up as master of one of London’s oldest medical fraternities. I ended my explanation with what I thought was a coup de grace: “I’m a Canadian, you know.” He immediately responded, “Nothing to be ashamed of,” before moving on.

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I wore that as my metaphoric badge of honour for the rest of the year as I mingled with the professional elite making up London’s livery companies.

James Carley Toronto

Just right

Re Open Or Shut? (Letters, April 8): The Canada-U.S. border is as open as it should be right now. Trade will continue, goods will flow and economies will find ways to get by. Not until we have the science to back up a decrease in potential spread should we consider removing any border restrictions. In fact, we should have restricted air travel even further months ago.

If we are serious about defeating this virus, then we should be brave enough to take the lumps and bumps that come with responsible decisions. If we don’t, we will likely be in this for a long time – those of us who survive.

Ernie Ilson Mississauga

Independent intelligence

Re Scientists Propose Independent Pandemic Warning System (April 6): After 40-plus years in intelligence analysis, it is my conclusion that our governments, for the most part, remain largely reactive in response to all manner of threats, whether the focus is crime control (my career domain), environmental degradation, economic inequality, climate change, COVID-19 or the next pandemic over the horizon. In order to move to a proactive orientation, it should be imperative that governments – in Canada and globally – elevate the role that early warning plays in advising decision makers.

I envision multidisciplinary early warning teams that are actively supported in speaking truth to power, and not sidelined for being the messenger. Such systems would need to be at the cabinet-level without being part of the political apparatus – driven by science, not political science.

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Only then can early warning systems achieve true advance preparedness and the possibility of prevention, or at least the mitigation of global threats such as a pandemic.

Robert Fahlman OOM; retired director general, RCMP Criminal Intelligence; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Taxed out

Re Postpandemic Ottawa Should Heed Robert Mundell’s Warnings (April 8): Columnist Konard Yakabuski argues to keep taxes on the wealthy low, or else they will move income and investment to lower-tax countries. This seems not just an argument against raising such taxes, but one for lowering them even further.

There are already countries that have lower tax rates than Canada. By the logic of the argument, the danger of wealth leaving the country should already be occurring, and almost certainly is.

However, I am always surprised by the abdication of sovereignty over taxation that this represents. The argument suggests that our tax policy is effectively determined by what other countries do with their taxes. Truly a race to the bottom.

Instead, why not make it harder to offshore wealth and business to tax havens?

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Sascha Maicher Ottawa


From the perspective of a Canadian manufacturer, the idea that Canada would be better off if our dollar were tied to the U.S. greenback seems a terrible one. Without a currency disparity leaning toward the U.S. dollar, Canadian competitive advantage in the United States would be seriously reduced.

It’s precisely our lower dollar that enables Canadian goods and services to compete in the United States. Rarely do Canadian companies have the economies of scale to compete head-on with U.S. companies – that’s why the dollar disparity is so important.

The U.S. greenback is the de facto world currency. The relatively low Canadian dollar translates into earnings when Canadian companies doing business globally cash in their U.S. dollars at fiscal year-end.

I hope the Canadian government is not listening to all of Robert Mundell’s warnings. That would be bad for Canada and manufacturers like me.

Ann-Marie Anderson Toronto

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Energy equation

Re What Canada can learn from the Hong Guang Mini, the dirt-cheap electric vehicle that’s powering China’s EV revolution (Online, April 5): While China has increasing numbers of electric vehicles, about 70 per cent of the country’s electricity is generated by the burning of filthy, air-polluting, grossly greenhouse-gas-emitting coal.

The vehicle is dirt cheap alright.

Mike Priaro Calgary

Our politicians, ourselves

Re State Of Play (Letters, April 8): A letter-writer observes that thoughtful and accomplished people often fail at politics, and that this says a lot about the quality of politicians we end up with. I would argue that it says even more about the quality of the electorate.

Whose fault is it, ultimately, when the defining criterion for electing someone to high office seems to be, since the time of George W. Bush at least, whether they would be good to have a beer with? The Boaty McBoatface crowd, that’s who.

Luc Bouchet Calgary

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Amazon advantages

Re Lockdowns And Vaccines (Letters, April 7): A letter-writer argues that Amazon distribution centres should be shut down, as they are not really essential. However, it is possible to support small Canadian companies through Amazon, and what may seem frivolous to one person may be extremely beneficial to another.

I prefer to order my beard-grooming products from a Canadian company selling on Amazon, rather than buy U.S. products from the local drug store. And paint-by-numbers kits have helped me pass through the pandemic so far. Ordering online, including from Amazon, has expanded on the limited choices available at local hobby shops.

I would never argue that paint-by-number kits are essential, but for me they have been highly beneficial!

James Coughlan Ottawa

Silent mode

Re The First Cellphone Call Is Made (Moment in Time, April 3): If cellphones had stayed “the size of an eight-year-old’s winter boot” with “a battery that drained in 35 minutes – and took 10 hours to charge,” perhaps our collective social and mental health would be much better these days.

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Richard Van Dine Toronto


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