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Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson speaks to media prior to the reading of the Speech from the Throne at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Tuesday, November 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John WoodsJOHN WOODS/The Canadian Press

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What more?

Re As The Pandemic Drags On, Governments Can Only Do So Much (Jan. 19): I could agree with columnist Gary Mason unequivocally had governments done all they could to mitigate the incidence of infection. Unfortunately, I find that provincial and federal leaders have continually reacted, instead of putting measures in place to prevent waves of COVID-19 from overwhelming our health care systems.

For instance, vaccine passports and restrictions on the unvaccinated work well, but our politicians have chosen to pander to an asocial minority.

Glen Morehouse Washago, Ont.

Canada and China

Re Tories Hand Beijing A Win By Abandoning Their China Committee (Opinion, Jan. 15): This in spite of the fact that the Special Committee on Canada-China relations was created because, as the Conservatives said, China poses the greatest threat that we face and the Liberals repeatedly failed to stand up to the country. More politely than I could, Robyn Urback’s excellent column points at what was really happening.

The Conservatives folded, thinking, probably correctly, that Chinese election-meddling and veiled threats to Chinese Canadians resulted in Conservative seats lost in the last election. Yet we now have more evidence that this committee and the proposed Foreign Agents Registry should be integral to how we live with China.

My greatest fear going into the last election was that the Liberals would win a majority and kill the special committee. It appears I was looking in the wrong direction.

Marc Grushcow Toronto

On Russia

Re A-OK (Letters, Jan. 20): Separate the question of NATO membership for Ukraine from that of Russian guarantees against offensive action. Both sides should agree that they won’t attack other sovereign countries, and Ukrainian membership should not be on the table.

Russia is demanding asymmetric benefits and concessions from these talks. It has said that an alternative to security guarantees could be a legal commitment by the United States to never vote for Ukraine and other countries to join NATO. At the same time, Russia assures that it is not going to attack and invade Ukraine.

Remember the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances and its guarantees from Russia? It has since been broken by Vladimir Putin.

Walter Derzko Toronto

Re Canada Set To Extend Training Mission In Ukraine As It Considers Aid Request (Jan. 20): Canada arming Ukraine would be a big mistake. Justin Trudeau should consult Jean Chrétien, whose wily handling of U.S. aggression against Iraq was memorable.

Randal Marlin Ottawa

Re Russia Doesn’t Have A ‘Sphere Of Influence’ (Opinion, Jan. 15): Columnist Doug Saunders questions the idea that the “post-Yalta” world persists in the manner suggested by Vladimir Putin’s ambitions – I agree, it doesn’t.

Former Soviet states demonstrate their rejection of Russian imperialism constantly. And so while threatening Ukraine, Europe and NATO, Russia had to hastily intervene in another front on its vast border, as Kazakhs fight to overcome their Kremlin-backed government. Consider that Russia’s reach may be exceeding her grasp.

Perhaps the day is approaching when yet another former Warsaw Pact member, fearing invasion from the east, will turn to NATO for protection. Yes, I mean Russia herself – whose eastern empire includes lands of strategic and economic interest to China.

Perhaps a pact with a non-Putin-led Russia, whereby the country orients itself toward a liberal democratic future and makes common cause with its neighbours, isn’t too much to hope for.

Ron Beram Gabriola, B.C.

Serving as director of information and press for NATO from 1990 to 1994, I witnessed distinct efforts of rapprochement after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent creation of the Russian Federation.

I remember the day when the Russian ambassador to Belgium, who attended a regular NATO council meeting, left the room for about 15 minutes and, on his return, placed Russia’s new flag in front of his seat. In those heady days full of optimism for the future, Russian officials could frequently be seen at NATO’s headquarters, in the company of its permanent representatives amid a collegial, friendly atmosphere. The Ukrainian ambassador was also around.

My office played host to many groups of Russian officials, academics and journalists eager to understand the organization’s structure and functioning. At that time, we all believed in the possibility of peaceful collaboration and co-existence.

Erika v. C. Bruce Ottawa

Left and right

Re Tipping The Scales (Jan. 15): Reporter Sean Fine likens a division between progressive and conservative Supreme Court justices with the political gulf evident in the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t concur.

The U.S. counterpart is known to eschew international precedent and be ossified in the problematic view of originalism when interpreting the Constitution. Our court embraces a worldview in Charter matters to inform societal experience and appropriate domestic consequences. Moreover, justices have been inculcated with Lord Sankey’s dictum of the “living tree,” which has been infused in all Canadian lawyers.

Dissent is not necessarily dissonance. As a lawyer and progressive, I nonetheless do concur with “conservative” Justice Malcolm Rowe that “discretion … can’t be absolute … it must be exercised with principles in a framework.” In other words, rights aren’t absolute, as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.

I believe all our Supreme Court justices are on the same page and want the best for Canadians.

Sean Michael Kennedy Lawyer (ret’d) Oakville, Ont.

Risk it

Re Has Having Children Become Unconscionable? (Opinion, Jan. 15): The question, without exaggeration, can have a million clichéd replies. How about these questions: Start a relationship? End a relationship? When is a good time to buy a house? Start a new job? Quit an old job? Have children? Not have children? And there are others.

Human economic and social development is based on one thing: risk and reward. Take it out of life and I would say one has no life.

Clay Atcheson North Vancouver

Two-minute warning

Re NFL Officials Duck For Cover As Blown Call Faces Scrutiny (Jan. 17): Columnist Cathal Kelly talks about why the National Football League is so popular in North America and points to various things, including “the urgent pace of the game.”

No doubt the game’s action can be called urgent, or frantic, with running backs covering 40 yards in less than five seconds, and linemen the size of small vehicles crashing into each other. But the pace? By most accounts, the average NFL game lasts between three and four hours and has less than 15 minutes of live action.

These days, I suspect there are glaciers that move faster.

Nigel Brachi Edmonton

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