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A woman holds a banner during a rally in front of a building housing the Organising Committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to demand the Games' cancellation and to criticize comments made by Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori in Tokyo on Feb. 12, 2021.


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In the name of science

Re Uncontrollable Environment (Opinion, Feb. 6): Vaccine trial participant Tiffany Cassidy asks a fundamental question: “What do we owe to science?” It implies that science is an entity, when it should be seen as a structured process – a.k.a. the scientific method.

In recent history, we have increasingly relied on the scientific method for the best possible answers to vexing questions. It ensures that experiments are conducted in ways that avoid wrong answers. When I queue up to get my vaccine, I want the scientific method that lies behind that shot. No bleach-cleanse for me.

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In the end, the core question that vaccine trial participants answered, and that we should ask ourselves more often: What do we owe to society? To Ms. Cassidy and her cohorts, I extend my gratitude.

Tim Sopuck Winnipeg

Re In Too Deep (Opinion, Feb. 6): I believe the approach that contributor Jillian Horton describes is essentially the scientific method, now often referred to as research and development. It is applied in successful endeavours in many domains, not just the laboratory.

Failure within reasonable bounds is courted, not feared; that is often how progress is made. Every patient is an R&D project, where the Hortons of the world routinely make decisions without perfect knowledge, and continuously adjust as understanding advances.

What will it take to get Canada’s political class to get on with serving citizens by understanding and accepting an intelligent modicum of risk?

John Hollins and J. Arthur Hunter Ottawa

Stay or go?

Re We Can’t Ignore Genocide During The Olympics (Opinion, Feb. 6): I agree: There are times when a principled moral stand trumps the traditional argument that “we shouldn’t punish the athletes,” or “boycotts are ineffective.”

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This is an issue of standing with persecuted Uyghurs who are suffering. How can we not do this in the face of such widespread and documented oppression? We should show the political courage and determination to make the right decision.

Phil Kretzmar Ottawa

The arts and sporting events have a long history of being the “breakthroughs” that allow two countries to open up communications. We are becoming societies living in our own silos, refusing to talk to others because they are deemed the “enemy.” The Olympics should go on.

We should express our dislike at certain events in the host country, but we should learn that we all drink the same water and breathe the same air. It can be incredible when two people from different cultures meet, in person, and actually communicate.

The Olympics are such an event. They must succeed.

John Ault Woodstock, Ont.

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I cannot expect leadership from the International Olympic Committee, which I find willfully blind and morally compromised on this issue.

Athletes are being told not to transgress China’s national security law that has been used to arrest critics of the country. Imagine Connor McDavid detained for speaking out about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, or the Uyghurs.

People often wonder what they would have done in opposition to a Nazi regime that persecuted its opponents without mercy. What many of us are doing right now, in response to the plight of the Uyghurs, seems to answer that question.

Christopher White Whitby, Ont.

Join the club

Re Culture Club (Opinion, Feb. 6): If we were to allocate funding to artists and art institutions based on commercial success, as contributor Kenneth Whyte proposes, it would come at the great expense of both emerging artists and those whose work exists on the fringe.

Yes, the local indie band with the atmospheric synth solos may not have mainstream appeal. But since when is immediacy intrinsic to great art? The list of artists who were not mainstream in their day, but later recognized for important cultural contributions, is too long to even begin here.

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We should have a funding body in Canada that prioritizes diversity and recognizes that smaller players are key to a healthy cultural landscape. If that is elitist because it puts decision-making in the hands of industry professionals – and not a transactional algorithm – then so be it.

John Buck Montreal

Contributor Kenneth Whyte argues that arts funding should be managed on a per capita basis. He also attributes what he takes to be the overfunding of Quebec arts and media to a Liberal partisan preoccupation with Quebec votes. I believe he is mistaken that arts funding is any driver of voting behaviour. More importantly, I can find no principled defence of such a funding model.

Quebec is a cultural island in an alien sea of North American popular culture. Insofar as arts and media funding is linguistically sensitive, the generous funding of Quebec artists and institutions seems perfectly justified, as are many other regionally disproportional support programs in economic and social sectors, directed variously all over the country.

Richard French Chelsea, Que.

If contributor Kenneth Whyte believes that an arts administrator’s support for Indigenous rights, anti-racism, environmentalism and justice expresses a peculiarly “Liberal” outlook, then I don’t think I’m buying whatever version of a “Conservative” arts policy he’s selling.

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Sometimes a policy position is overtly partisan; other times, it’s just being on the right side of history.

Rodney Boyd Toronto

New thinking

Re Promising Young Woman And Stale Old Thinking (Opinion, Feb. 6): The pushback on Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s sexual assault survivorship shows us how great the journey will be to correct the perpetuation of these atrocities. Women’s silence would equal violence and the present culture would prevail.

We believe that only by verbalizing the chaos, and sadly being revictimized by the telling, can we further the agenda of teaching our children that sexual assault has to be mitigated. As painful as it is, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and others should tell their stories and help us evolve into less violent human beings.

Grant Bergman and Peggy Smith Halifax

Our backyard

Re Dan Hill On Wrestling With The Past At A Moment Of Racial Reckoning (Opinion, Feb. 6): As a teenager living near Dan Hill’s home in the late 1970s, I had the good fortune of catching the musician strumming his guitar on his front porch – a rare sighting that I shared gleefully, and often, with fellow fans. I was saddened to read about the racism that this talented man, and his family, endured in Toronto.

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He has reminded “Toronto the Good” why it’s crucial to examine our past and learn from our mistakes – retrospection and the Black Lives Matter movement remain essential. Thanks to Dan for his music and for this important lesson.

Julia Drake Toronto

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