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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Dec. 24, 2020.

Paul Grover/The Associated Press

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Historic moment

Re Brexit Now A Reality As U.K., EU Sign Deal (Dec. 26): Boris Johnson has now achieved what William Pitt the Younger, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were unable to do: concede leadership of Europe to Germany and France without a fight.

Such is victory in 21st-century Britain.

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Phillip Morris Mississauga

Keep it

Re Ottawa Rejects Sale Of Arctic Mine To Chinese Company (Dec. 23): Having worked extensively in the gold-mining space in both China and Nunavut, I can say that China has enough in-country gold to satisfy its own internal avarice. Denying Shandong Gold’s bid, then, is the correct move.

Neil Willoughby Geologist (retired), Toronto

Fly in

Re Vaccine Rollout (Letters, Dec. 23): A letter-writer wonders why the rollout in Ontario is “in such disarray.” The answer to this involves several factors, but surely a major contributor to the problem is our bloated and inefficient bureaucracies.

A visit to the website of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care indicates that there are 35 public-health units in the province, each with its own expensive bureaucracy and difficulty co-ordinating with all the others. Are these agencies individually responsible for administering vaccines? Mine makes no mention of the vaccine that I can find on its website.

After this is all over, I believe a major streamlining of the Ontario health care system is called for, with many more resources going to our front-line workers. In the meantime I shall very, very slowly repair to the rooftop pigeon loft to await the bird who may appear in a few weeks or months, with news of where and when this 71-year-old may receive his vaccination.

Robert Cairns Cobourg, Ont.

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Read in

Re Own It (Letters, Dec. 22): Amid all the debate about whether residential schools were intended as cultural genocide, assimilation or Christian benevolence, let’s not skip over this oft-forgotten point that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada made: “In keeping with the dominant social values of the day, school staff would have believed that they were helping Aboriginal people. Although some came to question the overall impact of their work, most believed that, on a daily basis, they were providing children with an opportunity to acquire needed skills.”

Robin Collins Ottawa

Power up

Re Ottawa Holds Back On New Funding For Nuclear Reactors (Dec. 21): It seems wise of Ottawa to not divert taxpayer money toward experimental, unproven and financially risky small modular reactors. There should be no need to trade a carbon footprint for a radioactive footprint. Our country could achieve almost net-zero emissions with hydropower resources alone.

Canada’s overall electricity generation is nearly 70 per cent renewable energy, and hydropower comprises 60 per cent of that. A national infrastructure program further linking provincial transmission lines to share excess hydropower between jurisdictions would enable Canada to effectively zero in on net-zero.

David Geary Saskatoon

A pattern

Re On MAID, Part 4 (Letters, Dec. 21): I followed the recent discussion of medical assistance in dying with interest. It occurred to me that MAID is one of three similarly sensitive ethical issues.

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MAID: To what extent does a person have the right to end their life, and to seek medical assistance in exercising that right?

Abortion: To what extent does a woman have the right to terminate her pregnancy, and to seek medical assistance in exercising that right?

Gender: To what extent does a person have the right to identify with a gender that differs from their biology, and to seek medical assistance in exercising that right?

I suggest that it would be interesting and useful if people discussing these rights declared whether they were devout or not. I further suggest that the greater the level of devotion of such a person, the stronger the argument to restrict or reject these rights.

But remember, the laws governing these rights in Canada are secular.

Harry Sutherland North Vancouver

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Cash out

Re Late Planning This Season Has Exposed The NHL’s Incompetence (Sports, Dec. 21): I must take exception to columnist Cathal Kelly and his harsh criticism of the National Hockey League in its quest for a 2021 season.

In professional sports, it all comes down to money. Bringing a knife to a gunfight comes to mind when comparing the NHL to the National Basketball Association (and its vast financial resources) and each league’s ability to produce a season during a pandemic.

Maybe a more apt comparison would be the Canadian Football League, where a lack of resources led to the loss of an entire season.

Doug Malcolm Hamilton

Onward, upward

Re Why Theatre Actors, Like NHL Players, Should Be A Priority Group For Vaccination (Dec. 21): A Dora Award to theatre critic Kelly Nestruck for raising the curtain on the plight of our cherished Canadian performers, and the diminished soul of Canada if government support remains elusive.

The public’s hunger for the arts is apparent in their eager response to innovative performance efforts, virtual and live, made by artists during this pandemic. Having attended many an outdoor concert and play in gardens and on farms around Southwestern Ontario, I can attest to the audience’s enthusiasm and love of live theatre.

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For the artists and our country’s sake, we should keep up pressure on government!

Irene De Salaiz London, Ont.

Norwegian wood

Re Zen And The Art Of Splitting And Stacking Wood, The Norwegian Way (Dec. 22): One can enter the Zen space of wood cutting, splitting and stacking in the city, too.

I have been scrounging logs and big branches for years. Besides what I find, the neighbours all know of my urban lumberjack aspirations and donate raw material.

My backyard is ringed with beautiful walls of stacked firewood, and visitors often ask if my home is heated entirely with wood. Either that or, “Do you have a pizza oven?”

Nigel Smith Toronto

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Columnist Marcus Gee is missing out on the true art of wood splitting by using a hydraulic splitter.

In British Columbia, rounds of Douglas fir are too heavy to lift onto a splitter; furthermore, that would remove the soul-satisfying CRACK of the wood when struck by a maul. Manual splitting requires careful examination of the five-foot rounds for weak points and knots to avoid.

That is both art and exercise.

John Heddle Victoria


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