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The Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant has caused governments to make quick decisions on how to handle the health and welfare of their countries.DADO RUVIC/Reuters

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Free to be

Re We’ll Never Live In A COVID-19 Free World Again (Dec. 1): Columnist Gary Mason offers a welcome reality check of what has felt, so far, like panicked government responses to the Omicron variant. His resolve to continue living as normal is entirely reasonable.

Unfortunately, the decision to do so may not be his to make. Public policy continues to be set by health officials and governments who remain reluctant to let go the notion that COVID-19 can be eradicated entirely. Until those people accept the realities described by Mr. Mason, the choice of how we get to live our lives will likely continue to be made for us.

Alan Jones Toronto

Price check

Re A Higher Carbon Price Could Get Us To Paris On Its Own, At Much Less Cost To The Economy (Opinion, Nov. 27): There are limits to carbon pricing. They provide price signals, hence their effectiveness is limited for measures not sensitive to prices, such as urban planning, building standards and appliance efficiency. Their focus on low-cost measures means they provide little incentive for new, higher-cost technologies such as solar, electric vehicles and green hydrogen.

To limit warming of 1.5 C, the world will need to reduce emissions to net zero about midcentury. Several high-cost reductions, such as green steel, low-emissions cement and non-fossil chemicals, will take decades to implement. Regulations are needed to start those transformations, even if marginal costs exceed the carbon price.

Erik Haites Lead author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group III, Chapter 13: National and Subnational Policies and Institutions; Toronto

Canada did not successfully address acid rain by taxing sulphur dioxide or depletion of stratospheric ozone by taxing chlorofluorocarbons in spray cans and refrigerators. It understood the technological roots of these problems and applied technological as well as economic solutions.

Canada should be equally well-informed on greenhouse gas emissions by using more modern simulation analysis to better understand its options. Until the country does so, it will, as the Environment Commissioner wrote, continue to go from “failure to failure” on climate change, extreme weather events, sea level rise and acidification of surface waters.

John Hollins Ottawa

Columnist Andrew Coyne points out that the Liberals fear voter repercussions if a bold, all-encompassing carbon tax was used to reach Paris targets. Justin Trudeau should remember that when then-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell imposed North America’s first carbon tax, his Liberals did not lose power.

Study after study shows a broad carbon tax is the least expensive and most democratic instrument available, rather than hidden “non-price approaches” such as subsidies and regulations. After another year of fires, drought, atmospheric rivers and heat domes, I believe most Canadians are now ready to pay the tax and get the job done for their children’s sake.

David Thompson Vancouver

“So a (more) purely carbon-price approach is quite feasible … what on earth is stopping us?” Is that a rhetorical question?

The answer seems quite obvious: Conservative premiers and their federal Conservative counterparts.

Nancy Bjerring London, Ont.

Future perfect

Re A More Independent Canadian Foreign Policy Requires Embracing Bilingualism (Opinion, Nov. 27): As someone who attended school in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain in Alberta, and mastered a little French in the federal public service, I heartily endorse the contributors’ contention that a stronger bilingual voice will strengthen Canada’s foreign policy. One important corollary of their argument is that the government would need to promote, and invest many more resources in, the teaching of French in the public service and across the country.

This would help us deal with a possible second Trump presidency (Canada Must Prepare For A Trump Revival – Opinion, Nov. 27), facilitate reconciliation with a number of Indigenous nations (including the Métis) and strengthen national unity. One additional benefit may be to make us more aware of the need to support Indigenous languages, too.

Eric Bergbusch Ottawa

Historical precedent

Re Nationalists Are Trying To Rewrite History (Opinion, Nov. 27): Contributor Marie Favereau’s fascinating piece on Genghis Khan notes that “the Mongols were also able to build and maintain their regime by absorbing and harmonizing the different societies and cultures of their subjects.” She might have added that they followed three precedents: Confucian China, the Roman Empire and Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire.

Modern China borrows from postmedieval Europeans the idea of a state based on ethnicity – in this case Han nationalism. Canada, as one of the most diverse countries on the planet, is a multinational state.

The Romans distinguished between natio and patria, and we, along with the Mongols, espouse the latter.

Ian Morrison Toronto

Centre stage

Re At The ‘Center’ Of A Controversy: A Defence Of Canadian Spelling (Opinion, Nov. 27): I couldn’t agree more that Canadian spelling is suffering from creeping Americanisation (with an S). Why stop there? Nothing irritates me more than a dated document in which I am obliged to switch the month and day.

The United States is the only country in which the date form is month/day/year. For the rest of the world, the common form is day/month/year or the more formal year/month/day. Yet because many Canadian business documents originate from U.S. head offices, month/day/year is becoming ubiquitous here.

A common conundrum: Whether 3/4/2021 is the third of April or the fourth of March. 9/11? I say 11/9.

As for metric versus imperial – don’t get me started.

Maggie Laidlaw Guelph, Ont.

My angst comes from the need to defend Candianisms in the spoken form.

I cringe when hearing the word “route” said to rhyme with “out.” Nay! Our Canadian root for route is from the French, has an E at the end and rhymes with “root.” I can occasionally celebrate when I hear our heritage pronunciation spoken by (a remarkably few) national news hosts on radio or television.

Heaven forbid we begin to say “shone” to rhyme with “stone” just because of its spelling.

Elizabeth Dolan Calgary

She practises at her practice. After, she drives home (she is, after all, a licensed driver with a licence).

Along the way, she stops for a favourite doughnut. In the car mirror, she scrutinizes (huh?) her mouth for bits and bobs of colourful sprinkles.

Once home, she gets together with a neighbour (and thanks her for a recent favour). She loves this routine. It centres her week.

Mel Simoneau Gatineau

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