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Coronavirus: By the numbers
Re Canadian Evacuees From Epicentre Of Coronavirus Outbreak To Be Quarantined For Two Weeks At CFB Trenton (Feb. 3): Ottawa is planning to fly 325 Canadians back to CFB Trenton for quarantine. If the coronavirus, or a similar virus, were to break out in Hong Kong, how would the government deal with the possibility of having to airlift approximately 300,000 Canadians back home? Would we be ready to deal with the epidemic?
Doug Turner Victoria
Re Research Supports Canada’s Decision To Reject A Coronavirus Travel Ban (Feb. 4): I believe this is an incomplete representation of the evidence. If travel restrictions are not initiated too late and are sufficiently rigorous, other research suggests it can delay the peak of a pandemic wave by months. A 2014 study published by the World Health Organization shows that such a delay may provide extra time to evaluate and procure antiviral medications and other treatments, implement public health intervention strategies, organize assessment centres and perhaps delay the peak into warmer months, during which many respiratory viruses circulate less well.
Specialists called for strong travel restrictions almost two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the debate now may well be moot.
Monir Taha MD, FRCPC; Ottawa
Beginning to end
Re A Mi’kmaq Community’s Fears Of Toxic Water Recede As Northern Pulp Mill Winds Down (Feb. 4): I was the ripe old age of 9 when the Northern Pulp mill opened in 1967 and I swam in the new and untreated effluent from Boat Harbour. Our cottage was located just yards away from the entrance to this once-pristine tidal lagoon. I swam in it on many occasions in the years afterward, until we were expropriated by the Nova Scotia government. For my family, and others nearby, the solution to pollution was not dilution – it was expropriation. The nearby Boat Harbour Mi’kmaq band was not so fortunate.
I’ve watched this travesty continue for more than 50 years with successive governments (of all stripes) and mill owners (and there were many) that never fixed the mess. Pictou County is now divided over the closure of the mill, fishers versus foresters. Government and industry, meet the gong show. A case study of Boat Harbour should be a required course in science and business in all Canadian universities.
John Budreski Vancouver
Re Teck’s Emissions Plan Lacks Substantial Detail, Federal Environment Minister Says (Feb. 4): Justin Trudeau’s cabinet decision on the Teck Frontier mine is due by the end of the month – the first real climate test for this government. I oppose the expansion of oil-sands production and call on Liberal ministers to reject the project.
Teck Frontier seems incompatible with Canada’s climate targets: It would emit as much as six megatonnes of carbon emissions per year; result in “significant adverse" effects on Indigenous rights and irreversible environmental damage, according to a federal-provincial panel, as well as the loss of habitat for local species such as wood bison and whooping crane; and never be financially viable, I believe, due to a reliance on unrealistically high oil prices.
Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg MES, PhD; Toronto
Despite catastrophic fires and a world withdrawing from coal-generated power, Australia is holding fast to its coal industry – likely to its detriment. Canada would be wise to look to Australia as a warning. By stamping a No on the Teck Frontier mine, Canada would demonstrate to the world that a country rich in fossil-fuel reserves can walk away from new development and focus on transitioning to a clean-energy economy.
A Yes, on the other hand, would serve as a significant blow to many Canadians who expect effective action on the climate crisis, and to a world in need of countries that are bold climate leaders.
Cheryl McNamara Toronto
With its mantra of environment and economy going hand in hand, the Trudeau government seems to face a lose-lose binary on the Teck Frontier mine. If it is approved, they face the wrath of environmentalists and three parties in a minority government. If it is blocked, they face a province or two threatening to secede.
I believe there is a way out of this trap: The government could green-light the project with the condition that no oil will flow unless Canada meets its greenhouse-gas reduction targets, or is convincingly on track, taking into account the incremental emissions from the mine’s operation.
Under this condition, Jason Kenney would have to step up. If the project is so important – and climate disaster can be avoided even with expanding oil-sands production, as he says – Alberta should embrace the national effort to bring down GHG emissions. That would mean the rapid phase-out of coal-fired power, tougher emission standards and effective carbon pricing.
The great majority of Canadians support the Paris Agreement. In this context, one of the only responsible ways for Alberta to maintain current production levels of oil and gas, let alone expand, would be to become enthusiastic partners in meeting the Paris targets.
Rick Williams Glen Haven, N.S.
This seems like madness. “Net-zero emissions” might as well mean “phasing out the oil sands.” Alberta and Western Canada’s economy is largely resource-based. With proper management, these industries could actually help reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions.
Mike Priaro Calgary
It’s surely not entirely honest to reduce the environmental effects of projects such as the Teck Frontier mine or the Trans Mountain pipeline to greenhouse gas emissions in Canada alone.
A true assessment of emissions should include those from consuming the products they produce and transport, wherever in the world they occur. We share our planetary atmosphere. It would be hypocrisy to boast about Canada meeting targets when we are profiting by enabling them to be missed elsewhere.
Julie Beddoes Toronto
Re Teck CEO Warns Frontier Mine May Not Be Built Even If Approved (Report on Business, Jan. 30): On reading Don Lindsay’s warning about the Teck Frontier mine, I was reminded of Kinder Morgan’s announcement, nearly two years ago, that it was ready to walk away from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
For Teck Frontier to proceed, Mr. Lindsay says “we need three Ps” – pipeline (to be completed), price (of oil to go back up) and a partner. When Kinder Morgan threatened to quit the Trans Mountain project, the Trudeau government ended up buying the pipeline. With so much political skin in the game, can our Prime Minister afford not to throw more taxpayer billions at the mine that’s needed to fill the pipe? Or will Canada cut its losses, I hope, on the damaging sunset industry that is Canadian bitumen?
Gordon Cornwall North Vancouver
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