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A realtor's sign outside a house in Toronto on May 20, 2021.Chris Helgren/Reuters

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Pandemic outcomes

Re Singh Says Proposed Quebec Tax Would Weaken Health System (Jan.19): I do not believe it is Quebec’s proposed tax on the unvaccinated that would undermine access to our health care system. Rather, it is the unvaccinated who are filling up our hospitals, especially ICUs, and undermining access.

If we cared about our fellow citizens, we would all be responsible and get vaccinated. In which case, no one would pay a tax and universal access to health care would be maintained.

Judy Hunter Ottawa

Re PM Defends Vaccine Mandate For Cross-border Truck Drivers (Jan. 20): So our food (and other) prices have nowhere to go but up in 2022, with a large part of this increase owing to the effect of unvaccinated truck drivers – yet another “benefit” of having to cope with the unvaccinated element of society.

When Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre next complains about inflation, I hope he starts acknowledging that it can be largely attributed to his party’s attitude toward vaccine mandates.

Patrick Stewart Toronto

Appraising appeasement

Re On Ukraine, Let’s Not Forget What History Teaches Us About Appeasement (Jan. 19): There’s some value in reversing the familiar scenario and asking what Russians think about “appeasement.”

In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Soviet Union’s claim to military control over Eastern Europe after receiving assurances from Western politicians that they would not expand NATO toward the Russian border. Yet his peace gesture has been followed by a relentless NATO march into Eastern Europe.

In 1999, NATO incorporated the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. In 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. In 2009, Albania and Croatia, followed in 2017 by Montenegro and in 2020 by North Macedonia. Ukraine seems to be next.

Are Russian leaders wrong to conclude that “appeasement” of the most heavily armed military bloc on Earth has failed, and that a hard line must be drawn immediately?

Larry Hannant Victoria

Where in blazes is the United Nations? Did someone defund the Security Council?

Helen Thibodeau Cobourg, Ont.

By the numbers

Re Canadian Housing Starts Hit Record High In 2021 (Report on Business, Jan. 19): Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports a record 244,025 housing starts. This number is of great concern when one considers that our government is hoping to bring in more than 400,000 immigrants this year.

While the number of new units would be about enough to house new immigrants (I know most will not be going into these units), we would still only be widening the gap between those seeking housing and the available supply.

It appears that our government has abdicated responsibility for rational growth, but instead believes in growth at any cost. It will likely make our housing crisis worse.

G. Wayne Brown Nanaimo, B.C.

Living history

Re Who Betrayed Anne Frank? Canadian Author Details Surprising Findings Of Cold-case Investigation In New Book and Russia Must Reveal The Truth About The Fate Of Human-rights Hero Raoul Wallenberg (Jan. 18): To read both these stories brings focus onto a world that continues to be one of morally complex choices and historical consequences.

A year before his death, my father and I travelled back to Budapest to settle affairs and visit family. On the churning Danube’s bank, we came upon an art installation of variously sized empty bronzed shoes, a visceral reminder of the many layers of atrocities perpetrated by Germany.

An active participant in Hungary’s revolution of 1956, my father’s choice to leave saved family members and friends left in our wake. We risked our lives escaping, crossing dangerous borders under cover of dark.

Ultimately, freedoms gained by our family outweighed the hard years that lay ahead. My father’s choices weighed not heavily on his mind, nor our souls, in these many years since.

Marian Kingsmill Hamilton

Judging a book

Re University Of British Columbia Acquires Shakespeare’s First Folio In ‘Once-in-eternity’ Purchase (Jan. 13): Exciting news about this rare, rare, rarest First Folio acquisition. Thanks to the University of British Columbia’s Katherine Kalsbeek and Gregory Mackie, from a proud and grateful alum.

Marg Nelson Vancouver

Vancouver Art Gallery CEO Anthony Kiendl worried that some people might see Shakespeare as just “another dead white male.” Really? The greatest poet of the English language?

Would he say the same thing about Leonardo da Vinci or Claude Monet? Spare us the political correctness, please.

Bruce Whiteman Peterborough, Ont.

The University of British Columbia’s expenditure of a vast sum of money on a single, fragile book from Britain feels unjust and unjustified, and a throwback to colonialism and colonial thinking.

David Ellis First Nations Libraries, Vancouver

It’s all very well to learn that the University of British Columbia Library has acquired one of Shakespeare’s First Folios at a price in the US$10-million range.

Meantime, the library has slipped to fourth place in total library materials expenditures among Canadian universities, as ranked by the Association of Research Libraries; I have seen the space for its book collection reduced from four floors to one in its main library building; on a number of occasions in recent memory, its purchase of academic books falls behind what the Vancouver Public Library is able to do.

Couldn’t the funds have been put to better purpose?

Philip Resnick Professor emeritus, University of British Columbia; Vancouver

Knit together

Re Knitting My Boredom Away (First Person, Jan. 13): A nasty injury a few years ago put me on my bottom for seven weeks. In retrospect I realized it was training for lockdowns. I crocheted, knitting being too slow for me.

Lately my projects have been what I call “cuddle shawls” for chemotherapy patients: five since the pandemic started; one loss, one recovery, one waiting for lifesaving surgery and two in the chemo process – all close to my family. My cousin took her shawl to the hospital for her final hours.

Stories for another time.

Edie Lewis Brantford, Ont.

High tea

Re Tea Time (Letters, Jan. 19): I agree with previous writers that cream teas are heavenly, but to be truly heavenly the jam should be strawberry, and homemade.

Shirley Williams Hamilton

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