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Manitobans got a look at the province's new COVID-19 vaccination centre at Winnipeg's Convention Centre on Jan. 1, 2021.John Woods/The Canadian Press

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Inoculation inertia

Re Strained Health System Faces Struggle To Vaccinate Millions (Dec. 30): Some simple math. All figures are approximations. Canada’s population is 37.4 million. Eighty per cent – the number needed for herd immunity against the coronavirus – is 30 million. That means 60 million doses, which we appear to have available over the next months.

We need to administer 164,000 a day. We are currently achieving about 6,000 a day. We laugh at the United States and their lack of a national plan and good leadership. We were just putting out tenders for vaccine distribution in December. We knew we would need this last March. Plan? Leadership? I don’t think so.

Derek Nayler

Pierrefonds, Que.

Why is the Ford government in Ontario so slow in getting the vaccinations out (Ontario Changes Vaccination Plan After Holiday Slowdown, Dec. 29)? Israel has vaccinated 11 per cent of its population while we doddle in Ontario at about 1.2 per cent. That’s just a tad better than our dysfunctional U.S. neighbours and even behind Britain.

Laurie Kochen


We seem to be sleepwalking into disaster. We are paying the price for a mediocre government response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Ontario’s habitual failure to meet its daily testing targets now passes almost without comment. We need to use that unused testing capacity, now more than ever. What happened to “whoever wants to be tested will be able to get tested?” Whatever happened to surveillance testing?

The rollout of the vaccination program is mirroring the mediocrity of the testing program. Ontario should post its vaccination performance on a daily basis: doses received, doses administered, as against daily targets. Include that information in daily reports of infections and hospitalizations. There should be daily accountability.

There is no excuse for underperformance on the vaccination rollout. It should be operating 24/7 without pause. We had months to prepare for the logistical challenge we knew was coming, but we seemingly squandered that time. If we need more people to administer the vaccine, in addition to looking to retired health care professionals, how about training students in the health care professions to administer the vaccine? If we need more facilities, in addition to pharmacies, how about our almost empty hotels and conference centres?

Our advantage over the virus is that, as humans, we have the intelligence it does not have. We used that intelligence to create the vaccine in record speed. Now let’s use it to mitigate the damage and get us out of this alive as quickly as possible.

Mark Madras


Phillips fiasco

Re Ford Accepts Phillips’s Resignation After Trip To Caribbean (Jan. 1): The arrogance is both stunning and disappointing, although sadly not surprising. That Ontario Premier Doug Ford only acted when the news of Rod Phillips’s vacation became public is also disappointing but expected.

Had the government performed well during the pandemic, perhaps we might have been in a more forgiving mood. But the opposite is true – they have failed to provide any proactive solutions (effective test tracing and tracking, and adequate health care support, for example), relying instead on the sledgehammer of lockdown and borrowing endless amounts of money to keep us at home.

The people recommending and enforcing the economically damaging lockdown have not lost a single paycheque during the pandemic, unlike many of the taxpayers who provide their salaries. Perhaps if their livelihoods had also been at risk, we would have had a better outcome and real accountability.

Chris Bradbrook

Oakville, Ont.

Did Rod Phillips get fired or did he quit? It probably makes no difference to those of us who felt that the important thing was that he should go.

Columnist John Ibbitson speaks of the former Ontario finance minister’s “insufferable tweets” (Phillips’s Vacation Is Something Ontarians Might Not Soon Forgive, Dec. 31). More insufferable was his duplicity, his playing the public for suckers, for allowing us to hopelessly believe that all of us, politicians and civilians, had to play by the same rules.

Geoff Rytell


Hollow achievement

Re On Vaccines, Trump Did Everything Right (Dec. 31): U.S. President Donald Trump didn’t get everything right on vaccines.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defined the goal of Operation Warp Speed as “to produce and deliver [italics added] 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines” against the coronavirus. While Mr. Trump is given credit for the flashy achievement of producing a vaccine in record time, he utterly failed to support the plodding and poorly co-ordinated public-health system that is now failing to effectively distribute the readily available vaccine doses to high-risk individuals. He forgot about delivering the goods.

Jeff Wyndowe MD


For Donald Trump to have done “everything right,” there would have to have been a moral foundation and compassion motivating him. Neither of these virtues exist in the U.S. President. Secondly, to imply that Mr. Trump should be commended for rolling out funding for vaccines is ludicrous. Any president would have done the same.

The difference is that other presidents would have done it for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. Nor would other presidents have denied the deadly reality of the virus for months, as Mr. Trump did. Mr. Trump rolled out funding for vaccines because he thought it would get him re-elected. Period.

W. E. Hildreth

Picton, Ont.

All downhill

Re Ontario Hills Say Lockdown Sending Ski Business Downhill (Dec. 31): Ontario Premier Doug Ford is not a skier. If he were, he would know that skiing is the ideal sport during a pandemic, since skiers are outdoors and well-spaced.

What’s more, the ski operators did their due diligence to adapt, only to face a government-mandated shutdown while big-box stores remain open, not to mention airports that have yet to reach first base in the COVID-19 game. With decisions like this, is it any wonder we find ourselves in the state we’re in?

Jerry Amernic


Delayed response

Re Canada To Require Travellers To Show Negative COVID-19 Test Results To Enter (Dec. 31): How is it that the Canadian government cannot bring in its new requirement before Jan. 7?

We have been in a worldwide public-health crisis for close to a year now and the Canadian government still needs a full week to impose such a minimal requirement for travellers? Such incompetence makes me question the continuation of our current federal administration.

Richard Elson

Longueuil, Que.

5G disconnect

Re With The Race On To Deploy 5G Networks, Obstacles Remain (ROB, Jan. 1): Can I opt out of fifth-generation networks?

They will make next to no difference to 99 per cent of us, and 4G networks are already really fast. It is a flagrant case of technology for technology’s sake. We are doing it because we can, not because we should.

If I opt out of it, can I avoid the large rate increases that will surely follow, as sure as eggs is eggs?

Luke Mastin


It baffles me why Canada is still dithering over whether to allow our telecommunications companies to use Huawei equipment in the 5G rollout. It must surely be obvious that, at least in the 21st century so far, China is our adversary (and the adversary of other Western democracies), in a way that we have not thus far been China’s adversary.

It is interestingly fortuitous that China’s incarceration of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, an apparent response to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada, has revealed China’s true colours in time for Canadian companies to avoid the adoption of Huawei’s technology. China’s response clearly demonstrates the strategic importance of Huawei to its global agenda, which solidifies the case for prohibiting the inclusion of its equipment in Canadian networks.

Jenna Chaplin

Belleville, Ont.

Voluminous vocabularies

Re It’s Mike Pence’s Big Moment: What Will He Do? (Jan. 1): This enthusiastic cruciverbalist, amateur etymologist and sometime librocubicularist was delighted to read David Shribman’s analysis piece.

Like a masterful pitcher with a rich bag of tricks, he deftly (or is it adroitly?) mixed reliable fastballs and sliders such as “juncture,” “spurned,” “deign” and “emeritus,” with the dazzling knuckleballs and splitters “vicissitudes,” “enmity” and “apostasy.” But most impressive of all was his eephus (ooh!) “obloquy.” Bravo!

J. Phillip Nicholson


Guiding lights

Re Star-gazing (Jan. 1): Letter-writer Kenneth Hewitt-White is quite correct in noting that artist Tom Thomson “knew how to capture the night sky as well as the terrestrial world.”

He could have gone on to mention that while this may seem quite remarkable in 2021, in 1917 most Canadians were quite familiar with the night sky, the constellations and the planets. It is unfortunate that people born today, especially living in the anthills of downtown Toronto, may never see more of the night sky than the occasional bright star. Light pollution has robbed the current generations of the simple pleasure of lying out under the stars and pondering the universe.

Perry Bowker

Burlington, Ont.

Springing forth

We all want to put 2020 behind us, but unfortunately we haven’t put the pandemic behind us, and the next few months may be the worst of it.

So, we should delay 2021, by reverting to an old pattern. Before 1752, most of the Western world, including all of the British Empire, started the year on March 25 (being roughly the spring equinox). The early signs of spring always bring hope. But especially this year, because if we are lucky, and we get enough vaccine shots in enough arms, that would seem like a much better time to start 2021.

David Konarek


French connection

Re British PM Boris Johnson’s Father Wants To Be French (Online, Dec. 31)

Just hours before the final Brexit,

The Brit PM’s dad chose to vex it.

You see Stanley Johnson

Told his Europhobic son

Their French lineage connects it.

Ken DeLuca

Arnprior, Ont.

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