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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Sept. 15, 2020.

Todd Korol/The Canadian Press

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Performance review

Re Ontario Vaccine Task Force Member Resigns After Holiday Travel (Jan. 20): What really caught my attention was that this task force “was struck in early December.” December?! By then vaccines were already arriving, and planning should have been long finished.

Maybe if the Ontario government had put together this task force even a few months earlier, our vaccine rollout wouldn’t be a disappointing mess.

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Deborah Kestenbaum MD, CCFP; Toronto

Re Pfizer To Halt All Vaccine Shipments To Canada For One Week (Jan. 20): Doug Ford’s passion regarding the shortfall of Pfizer vaccines has been plain to see. But where was the fire to restrict people’s movements when health professionals called for it months ago? Now it is my Ontario family who have not been protected from the deluge of COVID-19 cases we could see on the horizon.

Where was the fire during the first wave, when officials were presented with evidence regarding staffing and wage inadequacies in long-term care facilities? That is my aunt and my mother who have been ignored and left bereft of adequate protection.

Where is the fire now to ensure that front-line workers have adequate paid sick leave? That is my nephew and niece whom people depend on. Where is the fire for structural changes to address social, economic and racial inequities in the province? Those are my brothers and sisters who struggle every day to provide for their families.

Where is the passion for necessary change?

Michael Wallace Saint John

Come together

Re Biden Pledges Unity (Jan. 21): These are noble words by the new U.S. President. Are they realistic? Maybe. They strongly suggest bipartisanship, and that is something that should always be attempted. But it has become clear that Republicans are bent on opposing everything proposed by Democrats, whether good for the country or not.

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The tactic was refined during the Obama administration. It will likely be back in full force with Joe Biden as President and Democrat majorities in the House and Senate – demarcated polarization in U.S. politics will continue.

The battle for progressive policies and legislation to move the United States forward will be won in the trenches of Congress. It is through the exercise of power, by democratic means, that will win the day.

Robert Milan Victoria

Keystone axed

During the Senate runoff campaign in Georgia, Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue were reported to have accused the Secretary of State there of presiding over a fraudulent election. Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail notes that, after Joe Biden’s victory, “the U.S. political action arms of TC Energy and Enbridge Inc. … spent thousands of dollars to back [Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue] in an effort to prevent Democrats from … taking control of the Senate to back Mr. Biden’s environmental agenda” (Ottawa, Alberta Vow To Press Biden On Keystone XL – Jan. 19).

Let’s not be naive: Everyone understands that corporations will act in their own self-interest. But surely we can all agree, even company shareholders, that supporting anti-democratic candidates in any election should be in no one’s interest.

David Siminovitch Lethbridge, Alta.

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Re Biden Axes Keystone XL Hours After Becoming President (Report on Business, Jan. 21): How does cancelling a source of oil make for a cleaner planet? As long as people in the United States continue to drive huge gas-guzzlers, the U.S. oil industry returns to drilling heavily into shale beds at $50-plus per barrel and the country continues to build domestic pipelines, it appears that keeping Canada out is hyper-hypocritical.

Brian Sim Carlisle, Ont.

The scrapping of Keystone XL seems a purely symbolic gesture when the heavy oil sourced by U.S. Gulf Coast refineries will likely be supplied by rail or through other imports. Joe Biden has shut down a pipeline that was environmentally the safest route.

Douglas Johnson Fenwick, Ont.

Jason Kenney called on the Canadian government to impose trade sanctions on the United States if Joe Biden refuses to review his Keystone XL decision. Really?

Mr. Kenney should stop taking notes from the playbook of Donald Trump.

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Mike Priaro Calgary

As a 36-year employee at a bitumen upgrader near Fort McMurray, I am hoping that Jason Kenney will use the cancellation of Keystone XL as an opportunity to aid in the recovery of Alberta’s economy. He should consider previous comments made by Peter Lougheed in 2011 and work toward designing, building and operating one or more large bitumen upgraders in the Edmonton area.

Larry LeMesurier Fort McMurray, Alta.

Let’s trade

Re We Must Restructure The Department Of Foreign Affairs (Jan. 14): As a 33-year veteran of the former departments of trade and commerce and external affairs, I commend columnist John Ibbitson’s argument that the integration of trade and aid under the Global Affairs umbrella is untenable.

The Trade Commissioner Service has been Canada’s “salesman to the world” since the 1890s. It flourished under the leadership of such ministers as C.D. Howe, Mitchell Sharp and the barn-storming George Hees, famously of the cufflinks engraved with the initials YCDBSOYA – You Can’t Do Business Sitting On Your Ass.

Sadly, a series of cost-cutting reorganizations spelled the demise of a once-dominant stand-alone ministry.

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The current trade complement under Global Affairs should be relocated to an independent ministry dedicated to assisting industries of all sizes to develop and promote their output overseas. Most important is the need for a strong minister, preferably with a business background. The minister should be prepared to travel across Canada to become familiar with the export community, and to occasionally travel abroad to lead trade missions and support Canadians at major trade fairs and expositions.

F. Ian Wood Toronto

Don’t think, do

Re Writing My Own Destiny (First Person, Jan. 18): I hope that everyone who read about essay-writer Alley Adams’s search for a live kidney donor is really feeling her story. I use the word “feeling” deliberately. Don’t shirk that feeling of doing the “unthinkable” – parting with a vital organ.

I did just that for my brother, who was exactly in Ms. Adams’s place three years ago. I did it by not thinking too long and hard about the risks. Before my left-side brain could take me through all the reasons why not, I offered him a kidney. I was 62 and in great health, and I wanted to share my good fortune with him.

I learned first hand how advanced this area of medicine has become. The risks to donors are statistically non-significant and the results for recipients are immeasurable.

So, take it from me: Just do it.

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Susan Jessop Ottawa

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