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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Dec. 3, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Re We In Congress Must Unite To Oust Trump (Jan. 11): In the frightening scenes of unlawful insurrection in Washington, it would be easy to overlook the bravery exhibited the day before by Democratic voters in Georgia.

Despite active voter suppression and harassment, to say nothing of the unrelenting pandemic, those voters turned out and gave Democrats control of the Senate and the power to repair the damage done by the current incumbent and administration.

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When the sequel to John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage is written, these voters should head the list. Bless them for showing what decent people united can accomplish peacefully.

Eve Giannini Toronto

Re The GOP Must Fully Dump Trump (Jan. 7): Columnist Konrad Yakabuski argues that Republicans need to “dump Trump” because his alienation of moderate voters caused their electoral defeats. However, Trumpism (possibly without a Trump) may remain powerful as long as its base remains rabidly loyal, resentful of perceived elites, prey to conspiracy theories, unmoved by constitutional, legal or factual realities and, most important, armed and dangerous.

This voter segment is the prize sought by Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and others to further their presidential ambitions. They will likely strive to maintain this base while appearing sufficiently reasonable to moderates, many of whom are desperate to remove the lingering taste of burnt Trump steak. The appeal of a disruptive maverick is a powerful myth. A recent popular song encourages the belief that “wolves don’t live by the rules” when, as pack animals, they likely follow different rules.

The Trump base might not be sufficient for electoral victory, but for Republicans it may be necessary.

Chester Fedoruk Toronto

Lord Acton is best known for his observation that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” However, another comment of his, that “liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought,” is the one we should live by. But too many people have never heard it.

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Doug James Calgary

Choice words

Re It’s Absurd To Conflate Support For Tories With White Nationalism – But Liberals Will Try (Jan. 11): As columnist John Ibbitson suggests, Erin O’Toole is not a white nationalist. What’s more, Canadians – and especially politicians – should resist the divisive labelling of opponents that we’ve seen in the United States. It’s a slippery slope.

I suggest that Conservatives like Mr. O’Toole refrain from using labels such as “financial elites,” a favourite signal to the base during his leadership campaign. (It’s also rather rich coming from a former corporate lawyer.) Can you imagine the hue and cry if politicians to the left of Mr. O’Toole used a similarly reductive and condescending label for rural and Western Canadians who trend Conservative?

Spyro Rondos Beaconsfield, Que.

Get in touch

Re Canada’s Overwhelmed Contact-tracing Efforts Have Been A Gross Failure (Jan. 8): As a senior and retired registered nurse who worked in my community for more than 35 years, I felt I could contribute in a small way to aiding in the control of COVID-19. With that in mind last spring, I called my local health department and volunteered to help with telephone contact tracing. I was rejected on the grounds that I was no longer registered as an RN.

Why would it be required to be a licensed professional to carry out telephone contact tracing during a pandemic? This seems to be a waste of potential resources that could be mobilized in this continuing fight.

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Lynn Morris Oakville, Ont.

Our health care systems may be good at a lot of things, but designing and implementing complex logistical projects does not seem like one of them. The systems often lack the necessary skills, experience and culture. They are bureaucracies.

Bureaucracies are not good at thinking outside the box because, well, bureaucracies are all about boxes. There are plenty of men and women (perhaps retired) who, if asked, would have volunteered their knowledge and skills to design and implement a program for getting vaccines into the arms of Canadians quickly and efficiently.

If only the need had been recognized.

Alastair Moran Brampton, Ont.

Unequal education

Re For Students With Disabilities, School Lockdowns Come With A Huge Cost (Jan. 5): Students with special needs are being denied education that can help them grow and be as self-reliant as they can. They’re also being denied the chance to genuinely be with others.

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I’m beyond aware that none of the special education classes I had the joy and honour of working in as an educational assistant are currently getting food cooked as a group, travelling to neighbourhood spots or making music. God willing, everything will be fixed once the pandemic is stopped.

Amy Soule Hamilton

Re Doctors Worry About School Safety Ahead Of Reopening (Jan. 6): One issue that seems to be absent from the in-class learning debate in Canada is the differential impact of remote learning for younger students from kindergarten to Grade 3.

In many jurisdictions, these students are prioritized for in-class learning because of the limited utility of online methods for these cohorts, particularly in light of the crucial developmental windows and milestones that should be achieved at those ages. When it comes to the prospect of reopening or closing schools, a monolithic approach does not appear suited to address the unique challenges of each student demographic.

Prolonged academic disruptions and restricted opportunities for social interaction can have significant developmental effects, and this should be acknowledged by government and education leaders. Informed decision making should involve a balancing of costs versus benefits. Transparent and full discussion of these factors should be required as the pandemic continues.

Samantha Fuss PhD, C.Psych; Toronto

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A serious dose

Re Humour In Indigenous Writing Does Not Always Equate To Frivolity (Jan. 7): In December, I bought 13 signed copies of Thomas King’s Indians on Vacation for my family. Like contributor Drew Hayden Taylor, I wanted them to see that Indigenous issues were not just about residential schools and land claims, but also about heart and funny bones.

Of course, Mr. King has a wickedly witty pen and covers more territory than just his vacationers in Prague. Read it. Laugh and cry a little.

Nancy Coates Guelph, Ont.

Thomas King’s radio series lives on at our house: We turned half of the garage into a café. It brightens a mundane spot and gives us hope for future gatherings.

Our dogs are blithely unaware that we have called it the Dead Dog Café.

Sandy Blazier Mississauga

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