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People walk along the berm on a sunny day along side lake Ontario at Colonel Samuel Smith Park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Feb. 4, 2021.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Going forward

Re A Great Vaccine Plan – For The Year 2022 (Editorial, Feb. 3): When COVID-19 first took hold, there was much handwringing over Canada’s failure to learn from previous pandemics and build national preparedness for the next (inevitable) one. But now, the government’s announced plan to ensure future domestic vaccine supply is decried as “nothing but a distraction.”

We can’t have it both ways. Yes, our current vaccine shortage is deplorable. But it seems shortsighted and inconsistent to dismiss significant plans to get it right for next time.

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Richard Van Dine Toronto

Truth of it

Re Toiling For The Truth, No Matter The Toll (Opinion, Jan. 30): At the end of her heartbreaking account of her aunt’s brutal death in 1972, contributor Jolene Banning wonders: “With so many Indigenous families carrying the burden of genocide in Canada, what work are non-Indigenous people doing?” My first thought is: not enough, clearly.

My next thoughts are wrapped up in a nest of my own heartaches. But I also feel hope. Painful though Ms. Banning’s journey may be, she is part of a generation rising from the ashes in greater numbers. Indigenous people across Canada are finding their voices, reclaiming their cultures and nourishing their talents, and we are all the better for it.

In honouring the memory of her aunt Audrey, Ms. Banning calls our attention to irreconcilable injustices. Let’s respond by speaking up for justice and supporting the legions of Indigenous people who continue to face generational wounds of loss with strength and resilience.

Catherine Lang Victoria

Sobering response

Re Canada’s Drinking Problem (Jan. 30): It is increasingly clear that many of the so-called benefits of “moderate” alcohol consumption are being debunked. More and more evidence demonstrates its negative effects on heart disease, liver health and cognitive functions. That is without taking into account its significant impact on family dynamics, domestic abuse, car accidents, violence and health care costs.

Ontario should rethink alcohol sales as an “essential” service. When we analyze outcomes from the pandemic, it would not come as a surprise to find that alcohol had a negative impact. And an expert scientific panel will soon advise on new alcohol guidelines. Undoubtedly it will be a sobering report.

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Michael Gilman MD (retired), Toronto

Growing up in 1950s and 1960s Quebec, I’m old enough to remember a typical trip to the government liquor outlet. It was akin to a secular confession: passing a piece of paper to a dour-looking clerk, who went behind a dusty curtain and returned with cherry brandy, vodka or Canadian Club, my family’s favourite hooch.

Today, alcohol consumption is everywhere. We’re led to believe that it’s harmless if we imbibe responsibly. However, I’ve been alcohol-free since Christmas. I feel great. I’ve lost 10 pounds. But it wasn’t easy.

As a person of faith, I said a few prayers for celestial assistance. Wasn’t Jesus’s first miracle when he turned water into wine? He just might help me turn wine into water.

Roxanne Davies North Vancouver


Re Trouble In Paradise (Opinion, Jan. 30): I read with mounting frustration as contributor Mark Braude drew parallels between Napolean’s return to France from Elba and the potential of a return to relevance for the former U.S. president.

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Napoleon was forced into exile by foreign powers who saw him as a threat to monarchy and privilege. Napoleon would return to popular acclaim with the liberal reform of the Act Additional, which was approved by plebiscite. Again, foreign powers intervened to impose a government on the French against their will.

In this tragedy, Napoleon was the liberal with the approval of the people, and the monarchy of Louis XVIII was the unchosen reaction of conservatism forced upon a population by outsiders.

Kirk Lowry Toronto

Money for nothing?

Re Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Gets More Money – But Can Awards Save Publishing? (Jan. 30, Arts & Pursuits): This article coincided with my annual conversations with my husband about shutting down my diversity-focused indie press. I am not making enough money to cover expenses. I do not have enough revenue to qualify for government grants, nor enough funds to rent shelf space at major retailers.

The future of publishing will likely be similar to other divides in society, with only a few holding power. Amazon and social media have allowed some disruption to happen, but the biggest publishers are still the ones choosing which voices are allowed to be heard.

For myself, I will continue to do everything I can, but I will have a greater chance of success as a writer than as a publisher.

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JF Garrard President, Dark Helix Press; deputy editor, Ricepaper Magazine; Toronto

The remix

Re O Canada Needs Tweaking Toward Inclusivity Of All Beliefs (Opinion, Jan. 30): Contributor Sandford Borins’s argument that the French lyrics of O Canada need revision is well taken. But if we are going to keep religion out of our anthem, we should eliminate “la croix” from the French version without substituting “nos fois.”

Richard Hoover Delta, B.C.

May I also suggest replacing, “God keep our land glorious and free,” with, “Let’s keep our land glorious and free.” This change would also send a message that, as citizens, it is we who bear the right and responsibility to participate in our democracy and yes, keep it glorious and free.

Jennifer Birrell Toronto

I emigrated from Britain more than 60 years ago and couldn’t be a more patriotic Canadian. But I am not “native” – I sing “chosen,” though I don’t expect anyone notices.

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Lyn Robinson Burlington, Ont.

The history of O Canada makes a case for why it needs more than tweaking. The music and French lyrics were written in 1880. Its nationalistic, militaristic message, as well as its partiality to Catholicism, was more an anthem for 19th-century Quebec. English lyrics didn’t appear until 1908.

This antiquated dirge, which only became our official anthem in 1980, should be replaced altogether. We have a maple leaf on our flag. It would make perfect sense to adopt the more uplifting The Maple Leaf Forever, taking the version sung by Michael Bublé, to have a joyous anthem with no religious references whatsoever.

Jo Balet Mississauga

I no longer feel like a voice in the wilderness. I’ve been saying the same thing about the anthem for years, if not decades, to anyone who would listen, including The Globe and Mail (Not Everyone’s Cross To Bare – Letters, Nov. 19, 2008).

Manuel Matas Winnipeg

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