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A medical assistant prepares to take a swab from a patient at a new drive-thru and walk-up coronavirus testing site in Seattle, on April 25, 2020.

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This is how we do it

Re Why Comprehensive Contact Tracing Is Key To Battling COVID-19 (Oct. 15): I recently recovered from COVID-19.

As soon as my test result came back, the local health unit asked for all contacts who had been with me in the 48 hours before my symptoms appeared. Each was tested and told to self-isolate for 14 days from the onset of my symptoms. Those closest to me, and most at risk, were called every day to ensure compliance. To my great relief, all were negative.

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This is how it should work. I cannot say enough positive things about public-health officials where I live.

Lesley Cameron Brockville, Ont.

Return volley

Re Trudeau Wants Cities To Take A Bullet For Him (Editorial, Oct. 14): As a sport shooter, I am more than dismayed that Justin Trudeau is deflecting public policy, tax dollars and attention away from criminal elements who are the most likely perpetrators of the violence which he is trying to address.

Placing the onus of firearm regulation on municipalities would go against the Chrétien government’s sweeping prohibition of simple possession of firearms (sections 91 and 92 of the Criminal Code), which wrested the licensing process away from provincial jurisdictions. Neither the RCMP nor municipalities have constitutional authority to make criminal law, yet that is exactly what is being proposed.

I would posit that Mr. Trudeau is happy to create vast divisions between his supporters and law-abiding firearm owners for political gain.

Robert Sciuk Wellesley, Ont.

Representation matters

Re The Amy Coney Barrett Hearings Could ‘Bork’ Biden (Oct. 14): Contributor Ted Morton writes that “the prospect of having to win over a majority of voters … might be unnerving” for Democrats. Based on recent results, they should not be.

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In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats won 8.6 per cent more votes in the House than Republicans, and 19.6 per cent more in the Senate (yet sit in only 45 of 100 seats). In the 2016 presidential election, they won 2.1 per cent more votes than Donald Trump, yet do not hold the White House.

Perhaps the “identity politics” of Democrats are actually the politics of economic, racial, social and sexual equality, which the majority of Americans clearly value – even if electoral structures entrench the last gasps of systemic discrimination that have plagued the country since 1776.

Jeff Calvert North Vancouver, B.C.


Re Every State Should Be A Battleground State (Oct. 14): I believe the U.S. Electoral College is an anachronism long passed its best-before date. Voters are massively overrepresented in smaller states: A vote in California is worth about one-third in Wyoming, according to the Electoral College.

While still imperfect, there is a movement to require states to award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote. Not surprisingly, most resistance comes from Republican stronghold states.

Frank Malone Aurora, Ont.

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How has proportional representation functioned in the real world?

In Germany, the extreme-right AfD party is the largest opposition party in parliament. In Spain, the extreme-right Vox party is the second-largest opposition party. Neither the AfD nor Vox had any seats at all two elections ago, yet they are the fastest-growing parties in their respective countries.

Proportional representation has a history of enabling such parties to take root and flourish, even in countries that pride themselves on democratic heritage. Hopefully, that will never happen in Canada.

Peter Love Toronto


The United States and Canada are too large to give people a more subtle choice in the election process, reducing votes to a yes or no in something that should be too darned important for such.

I would much prefer to vote for an individual whose ideas match mine, but Canada’s system makes that impractical. If I don’t like her party, then I have to abandon a person who just might do the country the most good, all because I do not believe her party will do the same. The candidates may as well be robots.

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Personally, I admired David Crombie as mayor of Toronto, and voted for the man in federal elections even though he was inexplicably a Progressive Conservative. My father, a lifelong union man, decided I was a conservative and sadly persisted in this belief to his dying day, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

I was young and naive. I know better now, but still wish the system was different.

Claudette Claereboudt Regina

Paid up

Re Taxing Issues (Letters, Oct. 14): A letter-writer believes a land-value tax would “capture the unearned wealth that accrues to land – wealth that should belong to all.” Communism, here we come.

My husband and I worked and paid mortgages and property taxes for 50 years. We earned it.

Cherryl Katnich Maple Ridge, B.C.

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Social infrastructure

Re Now Is The Time To Invest In Sustainable Infrastructure (Report on Business, Oct. 8):The president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin lays out the economic and environmental benefits of sustainable infrastructure. I found one essential ingredient missing from his argument: that there can be significant social value as well.

Many infrastructure projects around the world have incorporated “community benefits agreements” as part of the approval process. They require publicly supported projects to hire and train a percentage of marginalized workers, who benefit from a living wage and an investment in skills. This social component seems all the more critical during the pandemic, which has hit these workers especially hard.

Sherri Torjman Toronto

Old haunts

Re What’s Scarier Than Halloween? The Thought Of Not Celebrating It At All (Oct. 13): I smiled through gritted teeth to read Naomi Buck’s contribution. Growing pumpkins, sewing costumes, candying apples? Here’s another burden on parents who have only just managed to throw themselves clear of schooling, parenting and working from home.

I proudly ordered costumes online, bought candy at Costco and, like many others in my neighbourhood, will let my children “brave” some good-natured fun on Oct. 31.

Alison Pidskalny Calgary

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Political performance

Re Need To Know (Letters, Oct. 14): A letter-writer laments the lack of knowledge often displayed by political appointees in government agencies. The problem, however, is not new.

In 1878, the First Lord of the Admiralty in Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore advised aspirants to rank: “Stick close to your desks and never go to sea/and you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navee!”

The satire clearly remains relevant.

Elizabeth Marsland Qualicum Beach, B.C.


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