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People hold signs calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, in Vancouver, on March 6, 2019.


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What’s in a name?

Re Germany Urges China To Free Two Michaels (Dec. 23): Considering the unfathomable ordeal that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have endured, I find that continually referring to them collectively as the “two Michaels” to be extremely condescending. If only one of them were to be released, would the remaining hostage be referred to as the “one Michael?”

Jonathan Halpern Thornhill, Ont.

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Pay to play

Re Lockdown Or Not? (Letters, Dec. 23): Political leaders and bureaucrats, who mandate lockdowns that destroy the livelihood of large numbers of individuals and businesses, should have their skin in the game by forfeiting a large part of their own salaries and perks, which are funded by taxpayers. Otherwise, there seems to be nothing that would restrain their control over ordinary citizens in whose service they are employed.

Jiti Khanna Vancouver

Tech talk

Re Tech Is Rewiring Education – And Our Children (Dec. 12): Contributor Marion Gruner writes a passionate defence of schooling as it was in her day, positioning new technologies as an interference to human cognitive development. Technology, though, is not new, and human-technology symbiosis has been with us since cave days. It is, in fact, argued that humans became thinkers through our development and use of tools, which extend our abilities.

All parents are deeply concerned that their children succeed educationally. But ask oneself: Why do we educate children? Is it to deal with the future or the past? We should not pine for schooling as it was in 1980 any more than we would insist on buying a polluting 1980s automobile or having a 40-year-old surgical procedure.

This is 2020; children educated today will run the world of the future, and it is toward that future that we educate them.

Heather Lotherington Associate dean of research, Faculty of Education, York University; Toronto

Tall order

Re Why Toronto Is All Tall And Sprawl (Editorial, Dec. 21): Developers may dream about the profit generated by tall office buildings, but post-pandemic, more people may choose to work from home. Density may be increased if condos are stacked on high, but most people with young children want easy access to outdoor play areas.

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As a tourist in a city I have never visited, I may enjoy the view from a high tower once or possibly twice. However, having lived in a basement apartment and on the third, 12th and 24th floors of buildings, I would say that only the first three homes gave me a chance to pop out in a few minutes to run an errand, shop or otherwise enjoy street life. I could even use the stairs for exercise or emergencies.

How exactly do tall buildings enhance the quality of city life?

Mary Valentich Calgary

Let us not mischaracterize residents of Toronto who live near Gerrard and Main streets. For the most part, they are not NIMBY folk with regard to densification. But what I find missing from the project as proposed for 2165 Gerrard St. E. is considerate design.

Why should residents be required to squeeze themselves and their belongings through a lengthy passageway only 1.2 metres wide, in order to arrive at the front door of their quadruplex? Why should access be denied to those who have difficulty with stairs?

A more welcome project would involve half-a-dozen flats easily accessible from the street. Such a project would be entirely in keeping with nearby dwellings, have broad appeal and triple densification from two existing units to six new ones.

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Toronto’s Committee of Adjustment should be commended for thinking carefully about the original proposal – and refusing it.

Lilias MacDonald Toronto

Hear, hear

Re If Trudeau Forces An Election, Can O’Toole ‘Do A Diefenbaker’? (Dec. 15): In the fall of 1956, I and two other young professionals-in-training stayed at the same boarding house in Guelph, Ont. Then-prime minister Louis St. Laurent and rival John Diefenbaker held rallies there in the same week. Though not especially political, we were game for some excitement and decided to take them in.

Mr. St. Laurent must have been prepped to appeal to the denizens of Guelph, known then for the Ontario Agricultural College, with stories of “horses and cows and hens that lay eggs.” The next session, featuring Mr. Diefenbaker with eyes aflame under a shock of curly white hair, presented a much more entertaining sight.

Mr. Diefenbaker recited a long list of Liberal sins, culminating with a reference to C.D. Howe’s statement in Parliament about the new pipeline at the time (“what’s a million?”). By now in full flight, with jowls a-bobbin’, he opined, “Some of you may even have been there on that Black Friday.” Not sure which of us three elbowed the others first, but we replied in unison: “Right here, JD, right here.” To which the future prime minister pointed us out to all: “Right there, those lads were there.”

Not sure why we weren’t escorted out of the hall, but the memory is indelible. We actually did “a Diefenbaker.”

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Don Kawaja King City, Ont.

Stranger than fiction

Re John Le Carré Wasn’t A Spy Novelist At All (Arts & Pursuits, Dec. 17): In the world of John Le Carré’s childhood, truth was a highly elusive quality. It therefore should not be surprising that his most celebrated fictional creation, the British spy George Smiley, is above all else a man who seeks the truth, and does so in a world much like our own where truth remains highly elusive.

Ray Jones Toronto

Paper boys

Re Merry Christmas (Dec. 24): Sixty-five years ago, I delivered The Globe and Mail in the village of Thistletown in what was then north Etobicoke. In those days, there was an edition published on Christmas Day.

I would crawl out of bed at 5:30 a.m., pull on my winter clothes and tiptoe out of the house so as not to awaken my siblings and parents. As I passed the living-room door, I would shut my eyes to avoid seeing the Christmas splendours that lay within. Having delivered my papers in the cold darkness of morning, I would return home, put on my pyjamas and scramble back into bed, awaiting the moment when my family would wake up and the magical day could begin.

I don’t recall when The Globe did away with the Christmas Day edition, but this cancellation was a boon to a legion of carriers across the land. These days, I appreciate finding the paper on my doorstep each morning, and make sure that the adult with a car who now delivers it receives a token of my gratitude at Christmas.

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It makes me glad to know that on Dec. 25, he was able to stay home and sleep in.

Jim Reynolds Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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