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Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips in a video posted to his Twitter account on Dec. 24, 2020. Mr. Phillips is facing criticism for vacationing in the Caribbean despite officials urging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to limit the spread of COVID-19.


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Lead by example

Re Finance Minister Out Of Country While Ontario Locks Down (Dec. 30): This front-page news brought me close to tears. I have not been having an easy time of the lockdown, but I have complied, without exception, for many months, as have millions of others, for the safety and protection of my family and my community.

Not only has the Ontario Finance Minister left the country, but has tried to have everyone believe he was still present. Premier Doug Ford should not be calling Rod Phillips back “immediately.” He should ask him to resign and not bother coming back.

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Carol Gottlob Burlington, Ont.

Having obeyed pandemic restrictions and forgone Mother’s Day, summer family vacation, Halloween, family birthdays and Christmas celebrations, I am enraged by the callous selfishness of minister Rod Phillips.

Mr. Phillips has made a mockery of the government’s pandemic messaging and shown profound disrespect for suffering Ontarians who have lost family members. If Premier Doug Ford wants to retain a shred of credibility, he must fire Mr. Phillips immediately.

Anne Holloway Toronto

Imagine the holiday season that nurses, doctors, personal support workers, paramedics and other health care workers are having, working frantically to save lives and to keep our elders safe. They are not taking holidays to the beach. Think of every senior citizen in long-term care without family at Christmas. Residents of Ajax, Ont., Premier Doug Ford, demand Rod Phillips’s resignation. He shouldn’t be running a hotdog stand, let alone our economy.

Alix MacLean Hamilton

Fixing the Mounties

Re Has The Time Come To Fix The Mounties? (Editorial, Dec. 29): When one is threatened, the normal course of action is to contact the police, whose duty it is to protect the citizenry from various illegal acts, including threats of violence (physical or sexual). So it is extremely disturbing when the police service upon which many Canadians rely for protection is guilty of thousands of acts of sexual harassment up to and including rape, sodomy and assault by multiple male officers.

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The Bastarache report on the harassment of women in the RCMP assessed more than 3,000 such cases dating back to 1974. Another damning aspect uncovered in the report is that the RCMP acted as did the Catholic Church by covering up these offences and transferring the offenders to different assignments. Many were promoted. A complete external overhaul of the RCMP is long overdue.

Nancy Lyon Quispamsis, N.B.

My late paternal grandfather, who started his policing career in 1917 with the forerunner to the RCMP, the Royal North-West Mounted Police, and retired as an inspector from the RCMP, plus my uncle, also RCMP, would be very disappointed in the lack of leadership and accountability and the appalling behaviour that far too many members are allowed to get away with, with minimal to no consequences. It sadly taints things for the ethical members, which thankfully there are some still.

Connie Reynolds Kelowna, B.C.

If the higher-ups of the RCMP and all those in the force haven’t figured it out after lawsuits, layoffs and firings, then there needs to be a more rigorous approach. Years-long investigations or leave with pay should be done. Tribunals should be conducted by independent parties. Being a cop is a privilege, and those with negative biases aren’t deserving of the privilege.

Sally Barker Victoria

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Inoculation holiday, Part 2

Re COVID-19 Isn’t Resting, And Neither Should Canada’s Inoculation Program (Opinion, Dec. 29): André Picard has it right when questioning how Ontario could possibly take a vaccination break just because it’s the Christmas season. Meanwhile, all we seem to get from coast to coast is a revolving door of lockdowns. Eight months and we seem to have little more control than at the outset. I thought it was a brilliant move both federally and in Ontario to appoint generals to oversee the rollout of the vaccine. But it is also apparent that the political class still hasn’t learned the lessons. COVID-19 is adapting, government isn’t. And the rest of us have to sit and wait.

Peter A. Belliveau Moncton, N.B.

Three cheers for health columnist André Picard, always a voice of reason in his reporting during the entire COVID-19 pandemic period.

Mr. Picard has a deep scientific knowledge of the coronavirus pandemic and his columns reflect this with a common-sense approach. I hope that our government and public-health leaders are reading his columns, too.

Kerry Callan-Jones Ottawa

Mental health matters

Re The Best Available Science Supports Allowing Family And Caregivers Into Hospitals (Dec. 28): I enthusiastically endorse the recommendation of Dr. Fahad Razak, Dr. Laveena Munshi and Dr. Gerald Evans that family be allowed to visit hospitalized patients. Last March, I had to have quadruple bypass surgery requiring 39 days in hospital. I could have no visitors, not even my wife or my adult daughters.

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My mental health suffered more than I could ever have imagined. I think of myself as a pretty jovial and stable person, but in retrospect, I can see how depressed I became and how my mental decline led to near delirium. Psychological depression delayed my recovery. I was so desperate to get out that I wept when I was released. After this experience, I would caution all hospital authorities: Prohibiting visitors is not in the best interests of patients.

Bert Hall Toronto

The evidence is in

Re Whatever Happened To Canadians’ Famous Pursuit Of Balance? (Opinion, Dec. 30): One has to assume that Preston Manning’s call for balance in battling COVID-19 was written before facts on the ground disproved his argument. Mr. Manning’s call to offer Canadians “complete and well-balanced information” is fine on its face, but letting people “make informed decisions in their own interests” is not. The evidence is in: Letting people act in their own interests has led directly to the dramatic spike in cases – and the downstream crowding of hospital ICU wards – we see today. Health experts are not “exploiting our fears,” as Mr. Manning claims; they are simply delivering sobering medical facts.

Paul Benedetti Hamilton

Unexpected gift

Re National Gallery’s Forty-Part Motet Sings To The Era Of Distancing (Dec. 29): Like writer Kate Taylor, I have also enjoyed listening to the Forty-Part Motet at the National Gallery in Ottawa. In September, to my joy and amazement, we found ourselves to be the only people in the Rideau Chapel, other than the guard. Not only could we listen to the individual voices at will, we were able to sit in the centre and enjoy the whole, without the chatter of the crowds that visit there in normal times. Quite an unexpected gift during this time of COVID-19.

Anita Tiessen Mississauga, Ont.

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