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COVID-19 Rapid Test Device kits at Humber River Hospital in Toronto, on Nov. 24, 2020.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

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Dirty business

Re Another Year, Another Clean Water Plan Unmet (Nov. 23): I find the inaction on this file to be inhumane and a national disgrace.

Historically all governments have failed here, but in 2015 Justin Trudeau promised to rectify this problem by 2021. One need only remember his sarcasm toward a Grassy Narrows protester at a Liberal fundraiser to question his sincerity on this file.

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It is time to get shovels in the ground.

Bob Erwin Ottawa

I have been teaching English as a second language to adult immigrants since 2006. I ask my students if they have safe, clean water in their homes. I get affirmative answers and lots of head-nodding, but also quizzical looks; why would the teacher ask that? We’re in Canada after all.

When I read and explain to them yet another story of unresolved boil water advisories, their looks turn to incredulity. When I ask if everyone in Canada should have safe, clean water, their heads nod vigorously.

When they ask me why these people don’t have safe, clean water, I’m at a loss for an answer – and ashamed of my government.

Carol Gottlob Burlington, Ont.

Re Sanitation Specialist Developed System To Ensure Refugee Camps Anywhere Have Healthy Drinking Water (Nov. 25): I suggest we hire engineer Syed Imran Ali to finally solve the water purity problems of the Neskantaga First Nation, which Canada has been unable to do for 25 years.

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Henrietta Kestenbaum Toronto

Not yet

Re Canada Will See Delay In Receiving Vaccines (Nov. 25): It’s fine and dandy for Justin Trudeau to say that Canada has one of the world’s best vaccine portfolios. But portfolios don’t protect Canadians from COVID-19 – it’s the jab in the arm that counts.

Susan Schacter Toronto

How sad that Canada facilitated the 1989 sale of Connaught Laboratories to a private French consortium.

The non-profit Connaught had a rich history. It played a central role in medical breakthroughs such as vaccines for diphtheria, smallpox and polio, as well as discovering insulin. Had the government chosen to nurture this world-class gem, Canadians today would likely have the capacity to effectively supply COVID-19 vaccines in a timely way.

The Connaught story is one of several included in Linda McQuaig’s book The Sport and Prey of Capitalists. I urge people to read it and weep – then be spurred to action.

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Debra Sutherland Burnaby, B.C.

First we were worried about personal protective equipment; now we learn that we have “a lack of domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity.”

For decades, politicians have moved heaven and earth to ensure that such essentials as cheese, sitcoms and SUVs are made in Canada. Perhaps along the way they should have given some thought to medicine as well?

David Arthur Cambridge, Ont.

Censor this

Re China Censors Canadian Curriculums At International Schools (Nov. 25): As an educator, I am offended by some of the responses from fellow educators and administrators concerning Chinese censorship.

I teach my Grade 5 students to question things, to research a topic and develop their own opinions based on fact. Right now, we are learning about our government as it compares with others around the world, and what being a good citizen means.

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I’m looking forward to sharing this article with my class to show what hypocrisy really is, and to question whether money trumps human rights.

David Moore Keswick, Ont.

Tech crunch

Re The Revenge Of The Low-skilled Worker (Nov. 23): As the composition of labour changes, its purchasing power also decreases. Witness the inability of many people to buy a first home, if indeed a home at all. Machines can’t buy back what they produce.

It can be argued that technological advances, despite some remarkable labour-saving devices and big medical breakthroughs, have contributed little to closing the gap between rich and poor. Aside from climate change, that gap – manifested by poverty and want – seems to be the most serious problem faced by humanity.

Robert Milan Victoria

Re Competition – Not Unnecessary Regulation – Can Best Contain Food Delivery Fees (Report on Business, Nov. 18): Uber Eats does not generate massive profit, nor do most other delivery apps.

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They lead us to believe that sub-$5 food delivery is sustainable. They create the expectation that a meal should cost roughly the same if it’s picked up or delivered to one’s door. They are mostly propped up by investor capital, exploitative pay for drivers and whatever might have once existed of restaurant profit. These factors make them more or less immune to “market forces” in the short term.

If we want restaurants to survive the pandemic and beyond, we should have regulation now to protect against any fallout, when investor capital runs dry and these companies actually do need to turn a profit. I know they won’t look to the consumer first.

Stephen Kamp Montreal

Who’s back?

Re BlackBerry Looks To Sell Majority Of Its Patents (Report on Business, Nov. 18): It appears that Canada still has a finger-hold on key pieces of leading-edge software in BlackBerry’s patents. Spending a billion dollars or so on building them into a solid foothold has the potential to rebuild some Canadian technological leadership. Surely there is a way to support BlackBerry that ultimately rewards the Canadian taxpayer while developing Canadian talent.

Given the way billions have been dished out by government in so many areas, BlackBerry is probably one of the better long-term bets.

Douglas Bruce Vancouver

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Read on

Re The Ritual Of Reading To My Sons (First Person, Nov. 24): In the early 1980s, my wife and I got rid of the television when we started our family.

For more than 15 years, when our four children were growing up, having no TV was considered “odd” by our neighbours and community. I turned down a media interview about our choice, for fear the whole country would consider us “odd.”

In those years, the emphasis in our house was on reading, and reading out loud was part of that. Our all-time family favourite was John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany (with censorship of the parts about “Hester the Molester” and John F. Kennedy-Marilyn Monroe).

One of the most gratifying overheard conversations was the neighbour’s boy asking our four-year-old son: “Where’s your TV?” His answer: “We got books!”

Henry Van Drunen Stratford, Ont.

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