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A man waves a U.S. flag on a street corner ahead of the first presidential debate between U.S. President Donald Trump, and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden, on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 29, 2020.JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters

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Yell shark

Re Quebeckers Face New Restrictions As Regions Put On Red Alert (Sept. 29): Poor pandemic planning can have dire consequences. Overreaction can have adverse economic, societal and health effects; underreaction can lead to surges that overwhelm health care systems and force shutdowns and loss of freedoms. It is an anticipatory sport that requires a calibrated, targeted response based on emerging regional trends.

In the face of an escalating threat, Ontario’s response seems akin to the movie Jaws and its infamous mayor’s failure to address a shark attack on his town’s beaches. Hoping that things will get better will not work. It’s time to get out of the water, folks.

John Granton MD, FRCPC, professor of medicine, University of Toronto

Summer school

Re Learning Pods Shouldn’t Be Getting Bogged Down In Red Tape (Sept. 29): It’s a mistake to portray all children as having “suffered immensely” during the pandemic – there are also many who actually thrived.

Our son just started Grade 6, in person, and admittedly was ready for a change. But during the past six months, he revelled in the free time to do whatever his interests dictated: teaching himself new piano pieces and composing his own; teaching himself to code webpages; reading about galaxies and writing on a corresponding website; writing a novel; planting and harvesting pole beans; exploring our neighbourhood on foot and two wheels; planning a family trip for next year.

In many ways, it was a blissful, fruitful period. Now he’s back in class, a bit of a misfit, with less academic challenge than one would hope for.

Tuula Talvila Ottawa

Front-row seat

Re Sorry, Democrats – Trump Has Every Right To Fill Ginsburg’s Seat (Sept. 29): Contributor Clifford Orwin writes that Donald Trump has every right to fill the Ginsburg seat, and Democrats should suck it up. He is, of course, legally correct.

Similarly, if Democrats win the White House, Senate and House, they would have every right to expand the Supreme Court (say by four more members). They would also have the right to provide statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, giving each new state two senators and probably assuring a Democratic majority in perpetuity.

Republicans under Mr. Trump are doing almost anything within their constitutional power to help themselves, regardless of the hypocrisy involved, the erosion of democratic institutions or the impact on societal divisions. Hopefully, Democrats will pay them back in kind when they have the opportunity.

What is good for the elephant should be good for the donkey.

Tom MacDonald Ottawa

Contributor Clifford Orwin implies that, somehow, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is responsible for this controversy, which could have been averted if she stepped away from a job for which she was legitimately entitled and vastly admired.

Justice Ginsburg’s acuity didn’t leave her when she turned 80. As for the last years of her wise counsel, with no tea leaves to predict the current Republican advantage? Well that’s okay.

Cassandra King Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Donald Trump has the legal right to fill the Ginsburg seat as long as he is President. The question is: Ought he do it? Arguments against such action include the probable loss of health care for more than 35 million Americans; also under dire threat is Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights.

These are but a few of the rights Americans have achieved that will certainly be challenged, and likely changed, by the admission of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oliver Irwin Vancouver

It does not seem like hypocrisy for U.S. Senate Democrats to invoke the same arbitrary rule on Supreme Court appointments that Republicans invoked four years ago. It is more like tit-for-tat – a one-time corrective to restore the balance that was upset in 2016.

David Taub Bancroft Vancouver

Re Tuesday’s U.S. Presidential Debate Won’t Be A Game Changer (Sept. 28): Like many Canadians, I suspect, I have voted at various times for each of the major parties, either from admiration or disenchantment with a party or the candidate in my riding. But Americans, as David Shribman suggests, are apparently born to be either Republicans or Democrats.

Although this dire scenario suggests, then, that Joe Biden will garner about three million more votes than Donald Trump, as was the case with Hillary Clinton in 2016, the strange system of the Electoral College could inflict upon us another four years of Mr. Trump governing the world’s most influential country.

This time, Americans should vote with their brains, rather than their traditions.

Dave Ashby Toronto

Geared up

Re Hey Cyclists – Stay In Your Lane (First Person, Sept. 29): I was born in Amsterdam, the world city of cyclists. I never had any fear of cycling and never saw people riding on sidewalks. Now I am 85, living close to my beloved Danforth Avenue in Toronto. I now have the feeling that I may end up in a hospital soon, if I do not continuously have my wits about me.

I was once bent over to look at the headlines of a newspaper still in its box. Lifting myself up, there was a near-collision with a cyclist – I nearly suffered a heart attack. I am convinced that if they hit a pedestrian, they would quickly disappear and leave the victim to struggle emotionally and economically.

Joan Pennings Toronto

With the pandemic, more people seem to be using bikes, but have no idea of the etiquette. Many cyclists complain about the treatment they get from cars, yet they often don’t stop at red lights, use hand signals, have or ring bells et cetera.

Many cyclists seem to treat pedestrians as an inconvenience. My niece was hit by a bicycle while walking her dog on the sidewalk in a residential area of Oakville, Ont.; the cyclist did not stop. She was taken to hospital to confirm she did not suffer a concussion from hitting her head when she fell.

Cyclists should treat pedestrians the same way they want to be treated by cars – with courtesy.

Barbara Cantlie Toronto

There are irresponsible cyclists, as there are bad motorists (and indeed pedestrians). But I would make a case for cycling on sidewalks in specific situations: where there are few or no pedestrians, there is no bike lane and road traffic is heavy. Under those not-unusual circumstances, to do otherwise would be crazy.

Here, as with other road conventions, common courtesy and sense should prevail.

Richard Harris Hamilton

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