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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary on Sept. 15, 2020.

Todd Korol/The Canadian Press

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Tech crunch

Re Ottawa Searches For Technology To Handle Vaccine Distribution (Dec. 11): Anyone who has worked in IT, as I did for 35 years, has likely heard the phrase “QDOS – a quick and dirty operating system,” and perhaps even used it. Now I see it has achieved special status as an acronym. To me, it conjures up memories of ill-defined requirements and unrealistic deadlines.

After all the dizzying changes and improvements in technology, it’s comforting to know that some things have remained the same.

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John Manning Oshawa

May I suggest the existing Phoenix system? It’s not perfect, apparently, but it certainly would be quick.

Al Isaac Waterloo, Ont.

Provincial performance

Re Premiers Call Dibs On Health Care Money Before It’s All Spent (Dec. 11): I don’t want the federal government to give Ontario any more money without strings attached, much as we know that they need to increase health care transfers.

Doug Ford was about to cut public health funding before the pandemic. Emergency federal money for COVID-19 was not spent in time before a second wave. And would he transfer money to cities, or pass on sorely needed taxation privileges? Not likely, I say.

Direct the money to long-term care and see what happens.

Carol Town Hamilton

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Re Sorry, Premier Kenney: Criticism Of Your COVID-19 Response Isn’t Alberta-bashing (Dec. 11): I am tired of Jason Kenney hiding behind Albertans’ coat tails in response to criticism of his policies. If he had acted earlier as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, I might have been able to celebrate Christmas with friends and family beyond my household.

John-Paul Himka Edmonton

Bless you

Re A Fight Without ‘Light’: Nurses Battle Burnout, Albertans’ Apathy Toward Guidelines (Dec. 10): This year, I was surprised that I didn’t get a summer cold, which I’ve been getting regularly since forever. Nothing in the spring, either; in the fall, zilch, nada. What changed? Because I have an elderly mother-in-law and am myself a chubby diabetic, I’ve faithfully worn a mask when leaving home since March.

It looks as though my mask-wearing has prevented me from having to rub my nose raw with tissues, sleep with an annoying wheeze or deal with other infections from this year’s colds, because I didn’t get this year’s colds. Oh, and yes, I didn’t get COVID-19 and die. Thanks to masks!

Claudette Claereboudt Regina

Farmer frustrations

Re Canada Needs To Get Its Messaging Right On India’s Farmer Protests (Dec. 9): I am the son of a farmer who owned five acres of land in Punjab. India’s agricultural reform will likely be a death sentence for poor farmers in the country.

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Without powerful legal safeguards in a system many view as corrupt, India should not be importing free-market ideas from North America. Let us take, for example, the proposed dispute mechanism: Any dispute between a large corporation and a poor farmer cannot be taken to a higher court – district-level administrators would be a nightmare for the farmer.

Who would an administrator, who might be bribed, side with?

Avtar Dhanota Toronto

Indian states which already abolished the protected mandi system and minimum rates for produce are suffering years later.

Bihar privatized its agriculture in 2006. Today, Bihar farmers on average hold more debt than they earn, about 13,500 Indian rupees a year (little more than $230). If something goes wrong, how is a farmer supposed to fight corporations in court while making so little money? They can’t.

This fight shouldn’t be about politics, the focus should be on livelihoods. Justin Trudeau stated that Indian farmers have a right to peaceful protest. Any citizen from a democratic country would support this right.

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Balkiran Romana-Sandhu Brampton, Ont.

Television rules the nation?

Re A Civil War Is Erupting At The CBC (Dec. 11): Branded content, it seems, has no place at the publicly funded CBC or other self-respecting news outlets.

This public debate is turning into a soap opera which, incidentally, was the original “sponsored content” – radio dramas created for and sponsored by soap manufacturers. As long as content is “brought to you by” a clearly identified sponsor, and not created nor delivered by the same journalists who bring us the news, it’s simply a long-form ad. Most of us have long been trained to recognize the obvious difference.

Less obvious is what’s known as “earned media,” when reporters write about a company’s new product or service after being pitched by a media-relations firm. Those lines blur far more than properly identified paid content, or “advertorial” as we used to call it, but that doesn’t appear to be newsworthy.

Éric Blais Headspace Marketing, Toronto

In a world where Donald Trump and Brexit still enjoy popularity, a large percentage of voters in sophisticated societies are, to put it tactfully, very far from smart. Into this scenario, the CBC intends to place “commercial propaganda” (contributor Linden MacIntyre’s description) or “branded content,” if one takes CBC’s word for it.

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Corporate wishes would command the airwaves. Public relations and advertising agencies often employ people who excel in subtly shading messages. Which returns us to voters who often choose to elect disaster. Would this be another corporate triumph over society, aided and abetted by Canada’s national public network? Would it make any difference if public television falls to the ethical levels of social media? Yes, but those folks who already vote for almost anything will likely neither notice nor care.

Robert Fripp Formerly series producer, CBC’s The Fifth Estate; Toronto

O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi is a popular tale at this time of year: A foolish young couple sells their greatest possessions (his watch, her hair) to buy gifts for each other (a watch chain, a set of combs) that are rendered useless by their sacrifices. It seems a fitting parable for the CBC, which would sell its greatest asset – journalistic integrity – to pay for programs which, with the loss of integrity, hardly anyone would watch.

Liz Addison Toronto


Re Globe and Mail’s False Promises Investigation Wins Michener Award (Dec. 11): Congratulations to Kathy Tomlinson, her editors and The Globe for being recognized for their work on temporary foreign workers and foreign students. This kind of investigation is vital to sustaining a just and healthy democracy.

I’m grateful for this work, and I count myself lucky to be able to afford a subscription to The Globe and other news agencies. We should all financially support this worthy journalism.

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Marlene Schellenberg Winnipeg


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