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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 10, 2020.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Will it fly?

Re Families Of Max Jet Crash Victims Disappointed By Boeing Approval (Dec. 18): The 737 Max jet flight-deck procedures will allow pilots to disable a stick-shaker alarm if they believe it has been triggered erroneously. Should passengers now feel reassured that Boeing recognizes the software may reach a mistaken conclusion – or be concerned that Boeing does not appear to be confident that it will never need to be overridden?

Stephen Kilburn Guelph, Ont.

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I believe the main reason we have apparently flawed designs such as the 737 Max jet is that frugal airlines do not wish to pay for expensive simulator training. So Boeing continues to adapt its half-a-century-old design rather than develop new ones. This also has a knock-on effect: an absence of innovative designs apart from the decade-old 787 Dreamliner and the more recent Bombardier C Series (now sadly the Airbus A220).

I would encourage the Canadian powers that be to insist on a minimum of simulator time for any new aircraft.

Martin Harvey Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.


As a former pilot, I have spent most of my life managing risk. The flight safety world has learned that rarely is an aviation accident the result of a single failure, but the culmination of a series of events, any one of which could have broken the catastrophic chain.

I have no doubt investigations into the two 737 Max jet crashes will come to similar conclusions: a preventable sequence of events involving the manufacturer, regulators and airlines. Having said that, the effect of these tragedies has focused the aviation world on the most intensive safety review of any commercial aircraft that has ever flown.

So, I will be one of the first in line to book a flight on a 737 Max when Air Canada and WestJet return them to service.

Al DeQuetteville Lieutenant-General (retired); Ottawa

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The talk

Re O’Toole Walks Back Comments On Residential Schools After Criticism (Dec. 17): I believe Erin O’Toole was rightfully criticized for suggesting the intention of the residential school system was benign. However, critics would be wrong to suggest he was defending the policy or denying it caused harm. He expressly stated that “it became a horrible program that really harmed people.”

The best response was from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who called Mr. O’Toole out for misunderstanding the policy and trying to score political points, but also offered to help him better understand the issue.

This is how minds are changed.

Liz Tinker Toronto

Long-term thinking

Re In Long-term Care, Canada Planned To Fail (Editorial, Dec. 15): Is it possible that large companies that operate long-term care homes have much staff that work part-time or need multiple jobs to make a living?

At the same time, homes operated by non-profit organizations tend to have unionized workers who can fulfill their financial needs at that one job, and thus are less likely to unwittingly become carriers of COVID-19. That is also how private operators should contribute to beating the pandemic.

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H. Jan W. Hartgerink Kingston


It seems that all our governments looked at the cost of taking action, and not at the penalties for guessing wrong about the pandemic.

In 2003, the SARS Commission in Ontario made a telling recommendation: It urged that when an outbreak occurs, and our population in long-term care faces the unknown, assume the worst and err on the side of caution.

Today, governments took the opposite view and a cheaper way out. They assumed the best and that maybe Canada will luck out – but Canada did not luck out and is now paying the price in sickness and death.

Murray Rubin Toronto

On MAID, Part 4

Re Our Cautious Start To Assisted Suicide Is Accelerating Toward Death-on-demand (Dec. 12): My husband Tom Campbell was diagnosed with aggressive, incurable cancer in 2017. He was a brave man and was able to die with dignity in the manner he chose, thanks to medical assistance in dying.

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In the days before he died, he was in excruciating pain but would not take medications which would have eased his suffering. He was afraid he would not be able to say, at the last minute, that he understood the MAID procedure would end his life. One of the changes proposed in Bill C-7 would mean that other people would not have to make this choice.

MAID is not suicide. It is a dignified, compassionate end-of-life choice.

Mary Mogford Newcastle, Ont.


If a cliché such as “slippery slope” is to be used, I think it should be weighed against the “arduous assent” of those competent to choose but not given the choice.

Bill Jennings Kingston

Proof positive

Re Only A National Database Will Allow Us To Effectively Track COVID-19 Vaccinations (Dec. 15): I am inclined to disagree.

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First, a country that has been trying to create a pan-Canadian electronic health record for a generation likely cannot pull this off. Second, despite suggestions that vaccination records be held at Statistics Canada, privacy concerns will likely derail it.

What we should have is a modern vaccination card, such as a credit card with a strip and a chip that hold our vaccination information and personal identification, perhaps with our health-card pictures on it. Health providers would need an inexpensive machine to write to such a card, and those who will want proof of vaccination (think airlines) would need a reader.

The technology is already there. It could ultimately adhere to an international standard, such as machine-readable passports. Only myself, my health provider and those needing my vaccination proof need know.

Cliff Halliwell Ottawa


As a frequent international traveler, especially to Australia, we are already learning that Qantas will require proof of vaccination before one can fly to the country. I fear that paper certificates might be subject to counterfeiting, making it all the more important to have electronically embedded ones.

I hope the government is prepared to consider this. The spread of COVID-19 would continue by those who fraudulently obtain paper certificates without having been vaccinated.

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Will Kronenberg Toronto


Ontarians use to carry wee yellow paper cards holding their personal inoculation history. But many wallets, purses and moves later, who still has theirs?

I couldn’t find my card after my last move. And I knew, even upon learning it was missing, that it was incomplete. I began to wonder who holds the master inoculation list. The answer? If one hasn’t maintained the card, it’s no one.

We already have ourselves a big bowl of mismatched, siloed data. That’s why we need a safe, encrypted national inoculation database. Giddy up!

Patricia Bain Thunder Bay


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