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Prime Minister Jean Chretien points for a young boy to ask a question to Canadian Spaace Agency astronaut Julie Payette via a downlink from the International Space Station to Ottawa on June 1, 1999.

Tom Hanson/The Globe and Mail

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On the line

Re PM Under Fire Over Payette’s Time As Governor-general (Jan. 26): It sounds like the only “vetting” of Julie Payette that occurred was a phone call from Jean Chrétien to recommend her.

Craig Sims Kingston

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Stick it to me

Re Unstuck (Letters, Jan. 27): Contrary to what a letter-writer from Orillia, Ont., complains about – poor service from her doctor and her preference for vaccinations from a pharmacy – my personal experience is the opposite.

I recently had an in-person appointment with my family doctor in Orillia, something that I had requested less than a week before. His staff is always courteous and responsive. They have been especially efficient during these days of restrictions and virtual meetings. They phone promptly to report results from any test.

I would much prefer to have my family doctor or his nurse administer an injection, rather than a pharmacist whom I barely know.

Ron McIntosh Bracebridge, Ont.

Tuition and the toll

Re SickKids Urges Return To Classes With Robust Testing (Jan. 22): I have enormous respect and sympathy for all the high school and elementary school students who have been shut out of in-class learning. But I have to admit increasing frustration with the seeming disregard for the college and university students who have been subjected to online learning since lockdowns began.

Where is the outrage over the fact that they are still paying the same tuition as if they were in a lecture hall? Untold numbers of students are stuck in tiny bedrooms far from home, from morning until night, connected to one online lecture after another, with no opportunity for social interaction or human contact.

A lost year of education in junior kindergarten is very different from a lost year of postsecondary education. Mental-health concerns among this cohort are skyrocketing, yet the silence from most health professionals, and the institutions themselves, is deafening.

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Martha Tait Toronto

Same old

Re N.L. Party Leaders Condemn Sexism, Abuse Faced By Female Candidates On Campaign Trail (Online, Jan. 25): Nearly 40 years ago, a friend, who is a highly respected educator, was asked by then-premier Brian Peckford to consider running for the Progressive Conservatives in a rural riding. She went off to meet the local constituency organization, knowing that there might be some opposition to her nomination since she was from St. John’s. Alas, the grilling she received quickly became very personal.

“Where’s your husband, missy?” When she replied that she was divorced, the mood became even more hostile and doubt was expressed that she was a suitable candidate for them. She felt humiliated and told Mr. Peckford the next day that she wouldn’t be contesting the nomination. Who could blame her?

One would have hoped that attitudes might have changed by 2021, but apparently not. I suspect that, like my friend, the prospect of humiliation and abuse still scares off many talented women. Newfoundland is poorer for it.

Michael Byron Davis Bolton, Ont.

Protection promises

Re Professor Ordered To Stand Trial In France (Jan. 28): Canadian Hassan Diab’s 12-year nightmare goes on and on. Justin Trudeau acknowledged in 2018 that we must “make sure this never happens again.” Well, it’s happening again.

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In response to France’s decision to put Prof. Diab on trial for the horrible 1980 bombing at a Paris synagogue, our government says it is aware of the developments. My translation: Let’s do nothing and see what happens.” That is not good enough.

Mr. Trudeau should walk his talk. He should state clearly that the Canadian government will not allow Prof. Diab to be extradited again, period.

Bessa Whitmore Ottawa

Putin’s power

Re As Russia Awakens, Putin Finds Himself In Peril (Jan. 26): “We need stronger sanctions, unity among allies and partners to further isolate Mr. Putin and his cronies.” The question is who these allies and partners are supposed to be.

The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs is going to Moscow to visit Mr. Putin. I doubt he will even mention Alexei Navalny when talking about improving economic relations between the EU and Russia.

How important these relations are, one can judge listening to Angela Merkel’s defence of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline transferring gas from Russia to Germany, despite protests from many countries including EU members. It was put on hold when U.S. sanctions were introduced against involved companies by (what an irony) Donald Trump.

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Now he is gone, so “allies and partners” can more freely strengthen economic ties with Mr. Putin, providing him with means to tighten his grip on power.

Jack Hentel London, Ont.

Kondo condos

Re Calculating A Building’s Redevelopment Potential (Report on Business, Jan. 26): Now I know why the Canada Square office towers in midtown Toronto have to be demolished and replaced by new ones, at tremendous environmental cost and years of inconvenience to local residents: “The foremost question is always: How can we create a dynamic user experience that meets future needs?” says Oxford Properties Group’s vice-president of development.

And here I was thinking that office towers were places one went to work. What’s next: tearing them down if they don’t spark joy?

Scott Kennedy Toronto

Gotta go

Re Lockdowns And A Lack Of Public Toilets Leave Lots Of People With Nowhere To Go (Jan. 29): When I was growing up in Britain, we English were still reticent to make direct reference to bodily functions that all humans shared. Hence euphemisms abounded.

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One of them was “spend a penny,” a reference to the penny charged for using public toilets. This sum was collected by an attendant who kept everything clean, and usually offered a square of tough non-porous paper that Britons considered to be toilet paper.

Last year when we visited London, there were fine public toilets and users paid a small sum to go through a turnstile. We here in Toronto could adopt this practice; the money collected could defray some of the expenses.

Even better, knowing that we all share these human functions seems to bring out humanitarian impulses.

Maureen Jennings Toronto

The sad inability of some politicians to discuss leaky bodies obscures the plight of disabled persons.

As the parent of a child with disability, I can’t tell you how often we bring along a “ground sheet” or towels. We know that at some point in our travels, we will need to change our daughter on the disgusting floor of a public washroom.

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So yes, indeed, “a public toilet doesn’t have to be grand. It has to be well thought out, and properly maintained” – and thinking around design should be inclusive of all bodies, not just those who stand up when they go pee.

Ron Buliung Toronto

We remember

Re Holocaust Education Must Expand Its Focus To Include Democracy And Fascism (Jan. 27): While in Berlin a few years ago, I visited the Topography of Terror history museum. Most memorable were not only the descriptions of the erosion of democratic norms that took place in Germany before and during the Second World War, but how closely they resemble current world events: the mobilization of populations to marginalize political opponents; the exploitation of new forms of mass media as central instruments for propaganda; the persecution of those who resisted this propaganda as “enemies of the people.”

The museum showed how democratic norms that previously seemed steadfast can quickly vanish under certain conditions. The phrase “never again” rings hollow if this element isn’t properly understood.

Mark Bessoudo Rothesay, N.B.

My late friend Stephan Petelycky, a Ukrainian nationalist, was indelibly branded with Auschwitz tattoo #154922. Toward war’s end, he was relocated to Ebensee. He described being thrown onto a pile of bodies awaiting cremation. There he lay “in the cold embrace of other men who had been brought to his place and worked to death, men whom I had never known and never will, not in this world.”

On May 6, 1945, his Ukrainian comrades, escaped from nearby Melk, saw his body still twitching and rescued him. That was Ukrainian Easter, the day of his resurrection.

Lubomyr Luciuk Kingston

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