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A man walks past the Olympic rings on the exterior of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, which will be a venue for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, Feb. 2, 2021.Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press

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On Omicron

The front page of the newspaper reads “WHO warns of ‘perilous’ spread of Omicron around world” (Nov. 30). But inside the paper, The Globe and Mail’s editorial is headlined, “Omicron: Don’t panic, be prepared,” and André Picard’s column says, “Let’s not assume the worst about Omicron.”

Which headline to believe? I think I’ll go with the editorial and Mr. Picard.

David Shore Richmond, B.C.

The Western world has punished South Africa for doing the right thing. What message does this send to the country that discovers the next major variant? I am sure there will be one, and it will just as surely originate in a country with low vaccination rates.

Will they hide it until it travels worldwide?

Donald Kirkwood Oakville, Ont.

Back to the future

Re National Agency Needed For Sharing Of Health Data: Report (Nov. 30): Could this mean the end of the fax machine? Access to reports might take weeks off waiting lists. We might even end up with a “system” to give us health care. It might even make better use of ever-growing funding.

Let’s thank Amazon delivery systems for embarrassing Canada’s health providers. I look forward to the eventual engagement of 21st-century tools.

Chris Campbell Nanaimo, B.C.

Treaty translation

Re The Canadian Courts Are Taking An Activist Approach To Treaty Interpretation (Nov. 29): Another view is that, finally, the courts are examining the question of whether these Indigenous treaties are fundamentally flawed and deceptive pieces of paper. I expect that such examinations will continue.

As for contributor Tom Flanagan’s apocalyptic forecast for the Ring of Fire in Ontario: Is it not conceivable that the federal and provincial governments and developers can come up with a package that meets Indigenous leaders’ requirements? This in terms of having a significant say in how the development proceeds and a significant share of the benefits.

But treating First Nations as a problem is to no one’s benefit and, we are told, there are lots of benefits to share.

George Tough Peterborough, Ont.

Contributor Tom Flanagan argues that how and when to effect a treaty’s compensatory augmentation clause is at the Crown’s discretion. The treaty language is more concrete: Should surrendered territory generate revenue, the Ontario government is “to increase the annuity hereby secured to them … the same shall be augmented from time to time.”

The Ontario Court of Appeal also stated “that discretion must be exercised. It cannot be ignored. The Crown’s failure to exercise its discretion for 150 years is a failure to diligently implement the Treaty promise.” This is in line with the Supreme Court’s direction that courts “must update treaty rights to provide for their modern exercise.”

On mining the Ring of Fire and Indigenous opposition: The Ontario government may wish, in the spirit of reconciliation, to consider lawyer Dwight Newman and others who argue that treaties are better understood not as contracts, but covenants between two equal parties.

Peter James Vancouver

Language of business

Re CEOs Should Stop Whining About Learning French (Report on Business, Nov. 29): Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what percentage of executives are bilingual, or at least making measurable efforts to become proficient in the official language they do not speak?

“As Canada’s flag carrier, we’re proud to offer bilingual services” – a direct quote from Air Canada’s careers website. CEO Michael Rousseau should be embarrassed that he would not meet language requirements for most client service positions in his organization. Wouldn’t it be interesting for him to explain why he can be paid to learn French, whereas many of his staff had to meet language requirements to get their jobs?

Maybe I can do that for him: Client service employees serve the public, while Mr. Rousseau and his executive team serve shareholders. Tant pis.

Laurelle Shalagan Vancouver

In Europe, business leaders learn other languages as a matter of course. How can a CEO in Canada, who is responsible for a large French-speaking work force, not learn the language of his employees?

Il n’est pire sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre. Two solitudes seem alive and well in some quarters.

Joe O’Brien Halifax

The other half

Re Bankers To Get Large Bonuses Amid Surge Of Deals, Fierce Competition (Report on Business, Nov. 29): What about the folks who work at convenience stores and restaurants? The nurses and teachers? The people who keep our trains, planes, ships and trucks going? The people on disability or old-age pensions?

What will their bonuses be?

Ben Labovitch Toronto

Don’t drop the puck

Re Jones and Co. Choose Their Words Carefully Ahead Of Beijing Games (Sports, Nov. 30): If National Hockey League players boycotted the Beijing Olympics, it would represent a meaningful protest against human rights abuses in China. Or is the entertainment of the couch-potato sports fans of the world more important (and I number myself among them)?

On the eve of these Olympics, China is still denying the human rights of some of its citizens and casting an eye on Taiwan, seemingly thumbing its nose at the rest of the world. As a former member of Royal Air Force Bomber Command during the Second World War, I believe if one person is abused, it affects us all because we are all connected to our common humanity.

To quote Madame Chiang, wife of Chiang Kai-shek: “For that which is morally wrong can never be politically right.” And human rights abuses are morally wrong.

Rex Arnett Richmond Hill, Ont.

Shine a light

Re My Reminder That Different Is Cool (First Person, Nov. 29): When we moved to West Vancouver with three daughters age 5 and under, my mother-in-law warned me to say nothing about being Jewish, lest no one want to play with the girls.

Luckily, our eldest daughter’s kindergarten teacher was Jewish and welcomed my efforts, as a children’s librarian, to inform the class about Hanukkah (and later Purim and Passover). I continued the tradition in many schools, bringing latkes and gelt and telling the ancient tale.

The best was having the children, from kindergarten through Grade 8, light the menorah. When the overhead lights were dimmed, we all basked in the glow of the Festival of Lights.

Elizabeth Austin West Vancouver, B.C.

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