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An airplane takes off from Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, Oct. 6, 2021.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

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Pandemic pains

Re Provinces Restrict Travel And Gatherings As Omicron Cases Surge (Dec. 21): Governments always get criticized. That’s natural. With COVID-19, it’s either for doing too much or not enough.

But until personal responsibility kicks in to a larger degree, it likely won’t matter much what governments decide.

Mickey Belman Toronto

Re We Can’t Lockdown Our Way Out Of Omicron (Opinion, Dec. 18): Perhaps, as we face a new onslaught of COVID-19-related upheavals in 2022, we can collectively embrace novelist D.H. Lawrence’s remarks as our national motto: ”We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”

Toby Zanin Toronto

Re How To Cope With Pandemic Travel Anxiety (Dec. 22): Here is my suggestion: Don’t travel.

Thomas Johnson Montreal

Province to province

Re Cities Look To Support Bill 21 Challenge (Dec. 21): While I disagree with Bill 21, I wonder about cities putting up money for a legal challenge.

Should Toronto’s tax revenues be sent to Quebec? Does city council have the authority to make that donation? Perhaps an online fundraising request would have been more appropriate. Many Canadians would donate.

I have always felt that Quebec is a unique part of Canada and I value its culture and language. I hope at the end of the day that Quebeckers fight Bill 21, and Quebec remains unique for the right reasons.

Jan Vanderwal Toronto


Re The Crisis You Aren’t Hearing About: Toronto’s Unhoused Are Dying In Record Numbers (Opinion, Dec. 18): I’m a volunteer board member of a non-profit housing provider in Toronto. We have a building with 200 units, of which half are rents geared to income. My view of the shelter crises is that the city can increase supply with a proper accounting of subsidized housing currently available.

For years, we have identified tenants that should not qualify for subsidy. For example, one tenant owned two condos, while another was not living in the unit but using it as a daycare. Pandemic assistance from the government has added another complication to tenant disclosure and eligibility.

Most tenants are honest, but I find significant numbers who game the system. We also have tenants who need much more than shelter because of mental illness or physical disability. We reach out to the city repeatedly for assistance with such cases.

Housing that could immediately be made available is right under our noses.

Wes Roberts Toronto

Parks and reconciliation

Re Wood Buffalo National Park Established (Moment in Time, Dec. 18): In our distinct history, Métis hunters and trappers and their families, who had engaged in traditional practices for generations, were removed and excluded from Wood Buffalo National Park in 1923, a year after its establishment. We look to Parks Canada, in the spirit of reconciliation, to fully address this as the park’s centenary approaches.

Métis families were forced to find other areas to harvest and trap for survival. This was made even more challenging by the establishment of a nearby Slave River preserve area in 1923. Although it accommodated treaty Indians, we know that Métis families were again excluded.

The Métis expulsion from the park, with the resultant hardships and loss of lifestyle and livelihood, continues to be a difficult legacy to this day and has been ignored.

Garry Bailey President, Northwest Territory Métis Nation; Fort Smith, NWT

Mental health and sports

Re Inside The Eating-disorder Problem In Elite Amateur Sports (Dec. 18): Although my path to the Olympic podium differs in detail, the emotional scarring and collateral damage is eerily similar.

I never felt a compulsion to be “thin,” but the insidious nature of high expectations and pressure to perform takes its toll on athletes. Ironically, the fallout from my intense but short-lived career in the pool didn’t hit me until I left it.

It was only then that the psychological wounds I had subconsciously buried began to surface. Once I opened Pandora’s box, the onslaught came in never-ending waves. A tsunami of eating disorders, panic attacks and depression flooded my days. It took decades to dig down into my soul to stop the bleeding.

The spectrum of emotional abuse and trauma is broad, and sometimes disguised as well-intentioned remarks. Its cutting edge can be deep and permanent.

What good is success if it destroys a life in the process?

Elaine Tanner OC; triple Olympic medalist (Mexico 1968); White Rock, B.C.

Santa uprising?

Re Santa’s Christmas Secret? Maybe It’s Artificial Intelligence (Dec. 22): This thoughtful opinion on artificial intelligence provides a vision of co-existing with this technology.

Examples of where this may be headed include the AI capability to scan Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels to produce a superior 007 adventure, all within minutes. It could do likewise to the masterpieces of Monet and Picasso, and provide a work of art that combines the genius of these two artists.

The downside is that AI could render all human intellectual and artistic endeavours meaningless, or at least second rate. The genie should be kept in the bottle and remain a tool for the betterment of humanity.

Elon Musk’s vision of a catastrophic future should be heeded.

Maurice Hladik Glace Bay, N.S.

Let your heart be light

Re The Song For A COVID Christmas (First Person, Dec. 21): Essay writer John W. Marshall’s picture of delightful, crowded family Christmas parties evoked nostalgic memories of our own wonderful Christmas chaos.

Last year, leading up to our extended family Zoom party, I sent everyone a video of Judy Garland’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis. The sad but hopeful lyrics and mood resonated with our feelings.

Ella Fitzgerald’s version is great, but more upbeat and cheerful. Then again, maybe that’s what we need this year.

Mary Corey Toronto

My heartfelt thanks to John W. Marshall for showing so eloquently the aptness of the lyrics to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas for our times in 2021. I have listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s version several times since reading his essay.

Living with shattered expectations at Christmas does mean that we will all have to “muddle through somehow.” May the fates offer us lighter hearts in 2022.

A merry little Christmas to all.

Dorothy Watts Vancouver

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