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Dairy cattle feed at Nicomekl Farms, in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 20, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

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Ready or not

Re Vaccines Are On The Way. Are We Ready? (Editorial, Feb. 25): So much handwringing regarding our executing on vaccinations. Yes, it seems to be taking forever, and with it the complaints that never seem to end.

The reality is Canada over all has a much lower infection rate than most countries with a better track record of vaccinations (Norway being an exception). Many of those places need it much more than we do. Comparatively, our situation is under control.

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Will there be an awards ceremony once the pandemic ends? In that case, last place would get us a participant ribbon.

I do want things to be perfect, too. Alas, they are not.

David Roy Toronto


God Bless America was on my mind when I recently received my second Moderna vaccination shot. As a resident of Canada as well as Rancho Mirage, Calif., I appreciate the generosity and organizational skills of Americans. They got the job done!

John Morley Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.


Re Head Of Top Pension Fund Received COVID-19 Vaccine In UAE (Feb. 26): Reading that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s Mark Machin took a trip for “deeply personal” reasons, I was led to speculate about the difference between the merely personal and the deeply personal. It’s hard to measure exactly, but I reckon that it’s less than one centimetre – the approximate depth of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Peter Lavin Toronto

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Just do it

Re Major Law Firms Willing To Release Wage-gap Data (Feb. 25): The CEO and managing partner of Stewart McKelvey says that “we want to help identify the problem and be part of the solution.” Seriously? The problem is a gender wage gap; the solution is raises and back pay for female staff so their wages are equal to their male counterparts. It should be that simple!

Where is government legislation and enforcement on equal pay for equal work? I find this appalling.

Jan Vanderwal Toronto

Racism in Canada

Re Down That Road (Opinion, Feb. 20): In my former teaching career, I remember a Black Grade 11 student telling the class about a racial-profiling incident he experienced when visiting a white friend in a wealthy neighbourhood. I hadn’t even heard the term racial profiling and was unaware of its existence. I also saw the same student de-escalate a fight in the hall.

Contributor Ian Williams told us how damaging racial profiling can be. I hope my former student will come to live in a better world where he doesn’t need to experience humiliation and fear.

Jo-Anne Twamley Belleville, Ont.

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In Vancouver in the 1990s, I knew of a Black dentist who was pulled over by the police while driving his Porsche. He was accused of stealing the car and treated roughly by the police. He pursued the matter in court; I believe that the police were found to be in the wrong.

After reading Ian Williams’s contribution, it is very disappointing to see that this is still occurring. I have tried to believe that systemic racism does not exist in Canada. I was clearly wrong. This kind of behaviour needs to stop now.

Sandy McFarlane Aldergrove, B.C.

Hard truths

Re The Hard Of The Matter (Arts & Pursuits, Feb. 20) and The Dairy Industry’s Use Of Palm Oil Breaches Its Moral Contract (Feb. 22): For all my adult life, I believed, as I think most Canadians did, that paying a little more to preserve Canadian farms was worth it. Not any more.

We should disband the monopoly and let the Americans in. If we are going to be fed garbage, I don’t care who produces it, and I certainly don’t want to subsidize it.

David Lister Toronto

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After years of carefully surveying ingredient lists to avoid purchasing products containing palm oil, I am disappointed to learn that I have been surreptitiously duped into supporting the environmentally debilitating effects of the palm-oil industry through dairy.

Here’s something for the dairy industry to chew on: There is ever-improving taste and texture to sustainably produced, plant-based dairy substitutes such as coconut-based ice creams and yogurts. Truly creamy and delicious – the Beyond Beef of dairy!

Andrew Vanderwal Toronto


I just read the book Epidemics and Society by Frank Snowden. Oil palm is native to West Africa. In the late 20th century, large-scale deforestation took place and replaced that land with monoculture oil-palm plantations.

Bats normally roost high in the forest canopy, but deforestation displaced them closer to human settlements and, most likely, transmitted a virus to a boy in a village of southeast Guinea. He died of Ebola and is a likely source of the 2014 West African Ebola epidemic.

Beware the law of unintended consequences.

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Stephen Gill Sharon, Ont.


Thanks to contributor Julie Van Rosendaal for exposing the use of palm fats in the feed of Canada’s dairy cows. I, too, had noticed the changes in the consistency of our room-temperature butter. That the culprit is palm-oil products was the last thing I expected. How utterly disappointing that I can’t even trust our vaunted controlled dairy supply system to be free from this insidious additive.

Aside from the health impact and the well-documented effects on the environment from deforestation, I am sickened by the exploitation of labour in Malaysia and Indonesia, which produce the majority of the world’s palm oil. Reporting finds the worst of the abuses include child labour, slavery and allegations of rape.

Nancy McFadden Calgary

Run ragged

Re The Third Man Explores Churchill And Roosevelt Through The Lens Of King (Arts & Pursuits, Feb. 20): Book reviewer John Ibbitson aptly refers to Mackenzie King and Winston Churchill’s ability as they “ragged the puck” until Franklin Roosevelt moved on to his next wartime priority.

It was King’s uncanny deftness to rag the puck – when dealing with opinionated cabinet members or strong-willed, mercurial premiers – that kept him in power longer than anyone else in the Commonwealth.

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He was proof that procrastination has its virtues.

Gary Schlee Author, Unknown and Unforgettable: A Guide to Canada’s Prime Ministers; Toronto

Under the covers

Re How A Musical Star Was Erased (Arts & Pursuits, Feb. 20): Eva Cassidy, introducing the song Tall Trees in Georgia on her 1996 album Live at Blues Alley, said she first heard it while listening to her parents’ records in the 1960s – without saying who wrote it.

Twenty years later, I discovered that her parents must have been listening to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s 1968 album I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again – and that it was she who wrote this marvellous and rarely covered track.

Norman Spector Victoria


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