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Various applications of physical distancing at Riverdale Park in Toronto on March 27, 2020. Readers debate COVID-19 park closings and physical distancing, plus other letters to the editor.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

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Montreal to Portapique

Re Will The Rampage In Nova Scotia Prove To Be A Pivotal Moment In Canadian Gun Control? (April 24): The Nova Scotia tragedy has led me to reflect on the history of gun legislation in Canada.

After the École Polytechnique shooting in 1989, mothers of the victims, led by Anne-Marie Edward’s mother and fellow student Heidi Rathjen, worked tirelessly for the enactment of gun-control legislation. A Liberal government eventually enacted such legislation. These victims were not dishonoured by doing nothing – they were honoured by government action.

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Then the Conservative government passed legislation doing away with Canada’s long-gun registry. In the eyes of many, the registry was not perfect. But instead of improving on it, the government of the day made decisions that many saw as dishonouring the Montreal victims.

Would the tragedy in Nova Scotia have happened if we still had the gun control measures cancelled by the Conservatives? No one knows, but it certainly could not have been worse.

We must absolutely honour the victims of this tragedy.

Roger Buckland Professor emeritus, McGill University; Shediac, N.B.

The final piece

Re Beijing’s Coronavirus Bungling Makes Canada’s Choice On Huawei Even Easier (April 23): Contributor Charles Burton cuts to the quick when he enumerates the long list of reasons we cannot, for political, defence or human rights reasons, ever accept Huawei to work on our 5G network. I believe our integrity is well intact; what is missing in allowing us to finally make this decision are Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Cheryl Milner Vancouver

Silver lining?

Re Long-term Care In Quebec: A Horror Story (April 23): I once conducted focus groups for an operator of luxury senior residences about to expand in Quebec. It was striking how the participants – children of aging, semi-autonomous parents – had given little thought to how they’d be cared for, and the financial implications of that care. Most felt their parents would be looked after by the government. That’s why they paid taxes, many said.

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Survey after survey shows that Quebeckers are more inclined to live in the moment and not worry about the future than other Canadians. They will likely continue to live in the now after the pandemic, but perhaps this will shock them into ensuring their parents live and die with dignity.

Éric Blais President, Headspace Marketing; Toronto

Time and place

Re Does ‘A Beer In The Driveway’ Give Way To Quarantine Anarchy? and COVID-19 Could Change Public Etiquette Forever (April 18): With a bike light to guide my way, I have gone for a daily early morning ride around the Stanley Park seawall for many years. I start at about 5 a.m., finishing before 6. The seawall is now closed to cyclists to better allow physical distancing for pedestrians and runners; riders are directed to use the roadway, which has been closed to vehicle traffic.

I pass at most a half-dozen people during my 10-kilometre ride, so it is easy to maintain physical distancing. This morning, I passed one fellow who called out, “The seawall is closed to cyclists.” I replied, “Yes, it can get pretty crowded.” He called back, “That’s not the issue.” If I was riding during a more crowded time of day, I would certainly use the road. But with hardly a soul in sight, am I committing a new social faux pas, or liable to be fined or charged with a crime?

Anyway, a police officer or park board ranger now knows when and where to find me, if there is a need to further educate or arrest me.

Sam Rainboth Vancouver

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Do not recommend

Re King Lear Seems Almost Prophetic (And Not Just Because It Was Written During A Time Of Plague) (Online, April 17): “Plague literature” overviews is an emerging sub-genre spreading as fast as COVID-19 itself, with writers and artists hoping to glean insight into how quickly capitalism can mutate into autocracy and fascism.

Antonin Artaud, the French actor, writer and extraordinary theatre visionary, commented on the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720, finding contemporary relevancy in class divisions, political tensions and the rise of autocrats exacerbated by the last outbreak of bubonic plague. In his classic work of theatrical iconoclasm, The Theatre and Its Double, Artaud devotes an entire chapter to the subject entitled, appropriately enough, “The Theatre and the Plague.”

I reread this chapter for comparisons and contrasts that might be applied to the current pandemic. Now that I’ve done that, let me state emphatically that one doesn’t have to. Really. Just don’t do it.

Robin Breon Toronto

Roughing it

Re Things Are Looking Up, Thanks To You (Editorial, April 18): My niece e-mailed to say she was isolating at the cottage. It reminded me of when I was about 11 years old in 1938 and the polio epidemic struck Canada.

Schools were not closed, but my parents thought it best to isolate my brother and me at our Lake Simcoe cottage until November. The Canadian National Exhibition was a very exciting event for us in late summer, but of course being in crowds was not permitted. Dad went and bought chocolate bars and other favourite goodies to console us back at the cottage.

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Cottage life at that time was rustic. We were without a telephone, heating (except the wood stove) or running water. Mother heated pails of water on the stove and poured them in a galvanized tub for our weekly bath. My brother and I took turns. The first fellow got clean warm water. I being the younger, one can imagine what I got.

I told my niece that if she has not experienced such a “spa," she has missed a lot of laughs and frigid sprints to the outhouse. Cottage life has changed but the horror of epidemics has not.

Diana McVitty Toronto

You’re welcome

Re The Globe and Mail’s Special Giant Cryptic Crossword (Arts and Pursuits, April 18): What a joy it was to see Fraser Simpson’s large cryptic crossword in the paper. This certainly took the edge off weeks of physical distancing. Cheers to The Globe’s lead; in A League of Their Own (6). Answer: T+HANKS.

Dave Hanna Toronto

FW:

Re Send This To Five Of Your Friends (Arts and Pursuits, April 18): I don’t do chain letters on principle. I don’t mind a simple exchange of a recipe or poem by one friend to another, but a chain letter request means that I have to ask or coerce 20 friends to take part. I’m not comfortable with that.

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I do have 20 friends, now, but will I after the forced exchange?

Sue Careless Toronto


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