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A photo of detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig is held by a demonstrator outside a court appearance for Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver on May 8, 2019.


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Leaky border

Re Canadian Armed Forces Deploys Recon Teams To Border As Feds Prepare Border-testing Sites (Online, Feb. 15): Before we get too cozy thinking that new measures will ensure a fully protected land border, consider that there will still be “some exemptions.”

These would be people designated as “essential workers.” Between March, 2020, and January, 2021, 92 per cent of legal land border entries were considered exempt from quarantine. Over all, about 4.3 million individuals entering Canada by land or air were truckers. That these exemptions are indeed “essential workers” is not in question, but they are nonetheless a potential source of dangerous viral loads and they should be screened accordingly.

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It seems to me there are still quite a few leaky holes in this border strategy – more so than the Titanic.

John Nightingale Lethbridge, Alta.

Problematic partnership?

Re Ottawa Partners With Huawei To Fund Research At Universities (Feb. 15): Excuse me, but is this some kind of joke?

Patrick McHugh Toronto

Did the federal government forget about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor?

Judi Christou Toronto

This partnership seems like a recipe for disaster.

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The federal government’s years of dithering – on whether to allow Huawei products in Canadian technology, despite strong warnings from our Five Eyes partners about security risks – does not inspire confidence. And now Canada is funding a collaboration in engineering research among our universities and this company, when other notable institutions refuse to accept such funding?

All this risk exposure for the paltry amount of $4.8-million? Call it madness, folly or naiveté, but something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Kathleen Donohue Toronto

Stop payment

Re Why Ottawa’s Reversal On CERB Repayments Bucks Legal Precedent (Report on Business, Feb. 15): While the federal government’s decision may bring relief to some recipients of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, there are still thousands who are being asked to pay it back. If cancelling CERB repayment for the self-employed is meant to correct a flaw in the program design, why leave out the working poor and people on social assistance?

People living at or below the poverty line don’t have the resources to repay if forced to do so. The only avenue to recoup these funds would be to claw repayments out of regular government benefits – a short-sighted and cruel measure, especially with a potential third wave looming. This would cause an even deeper poverty crisis, one impossible for many to escape.

The government should take the next step and include people on low or fixed incomes in repayment cancellation plans.

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Leila Sarangi National co-ordinator, Campaign 2000; Toronto

Spirit of the law

Re Government Court Actions Are Impeding Truth And Reconciliation (Feb. 8): Trust was the first wound in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples as a result of assimilationist policies that led to the residential school system. Efforts to rebuild that trust, through court-sanctioned settlement agreements, can only contribute to reconciliation insofar as they are seen to also reflect the spirit of accountability and redress.

As the former lead national staff person on residential schools for one of the defendant churches, I heartily concur with contributor Murray Sinclair’s view: The federal government’s adversarial court opposition to its settlement commitments undermines not only its legal obligations, but the spirit of reconciliation so important for our country.

James Scott Reverend, OC; Chelsea, Que.

Government oversight

Re Education’s Expense (Letters, Feb. 15): As a fellow former university president, I second a letter-writer when he calls out Laurentian University’s board for its failure to adequately perform its fiduciary duty as the annual deficits piled up. To this I add: Where was Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities as Laurentian ran deficits since 2014?

It was no secret in Canadian university circles, certainly by 2018, that Laurentian was experiencing critical financial distress, but all this seemed to elude the attention of successive ministers and bureaucrats four hours down the highway in Toronto. So much for the provincial government’s fiduciary duty to pay attention to the health of institutions that receive public money.

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Terrence Downey President emeritus, St. Mary’s University and St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan; Calgary

Another round

Re Canada’s Drinking Problem (Jan. 30): While Adam Sherk of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research declares that “no Canadian knows what a standard drink is,” 70 per cent of Quebeckers knew exactly what it was as early as 2016, according to a provincewide survey by CROP, mostly owing to Éduc’alcool’s campaigns. Éduc’alcool is a non-profit funded by a levy taken by the Société des alcools du Québec; our members include parapublic institutions, alcoholic beverage industry associations and individuals from various milieus.

The article also notes that Canadians drink more per capita than the global average. But compared with other developed countries, we rank well down the World Health Organization’s list at 56th, far behind Germany, France, Britain, Australia, the United States and Sweden.

Ottawa may well consider revised drinking guidelines, even if not a single word of the report is written; in any case, we should all remember that while alcohol may not be just another commodity, it is not evil, either.

Hubert Sacy CM, CQ; Director-general, Éduc’alcool; Montreal

Under covers

Re I Want A Duvet Divorce! My Wife Keeps Stealing The Covers (First Person, Feb. 11): Europeans addressed bad blanket behaviour eons ago: twin duvets! Individual duvets on the same bed, each with the preferred weight, comfort and thread count.

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Warm winter nights become a possibility, and no need for “ar-bed-tration” after all. Soon this cold case can be buried under the covers, and the essay-writer can be well rested, not red-eyed.

My husband and I have adopted the European way and are having the sleep of our lives.

Susan Copp Toronto

In the interests of marital harmony, might I suggest anyone in this position to go big. If one has a queen bed, buy a super queen or king; if one has a king bed, order a California king or even a super king.

Mattress makers would be doing their part to reduce the number of “duvet divorces” by applying giant stickers to all their products. They could call it “Canada sizing,” in deference to our frigid temperatures, and in aid of warmer butts.

Janine Murray Napanee, Ont.

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I have a couple of nice duvets in my closet and would be happy to clean and send one to the essay-writer.

Erica Henderson Toronto

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