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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on July 13, 2020.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Free time

Re Civil Servant’s Testimony Fails To Clear Up All WE Charity Questions (July 17): From 1975 to 1995, my husband, the actor and writer George Robertson, and I were deeply involved with UNICEF Canada and UNICEF Ontario. Notable celebrities including Sir Peter Ustinov, Audrey Hepburn, Danny Kaye, Harry Belafonte, Maggie Smith, Sharon, Lois and Bram and many others joined us in giving countless hours of time to UNICEF. There were also television commercials where all creative work and time was donated.

Not a penny was ever paid for appearances. George went across Canada speaking to youth (his role in the Police Academy films made him quite popular with all age groups). It is a very sad day for me when notable figures cannot donate time and energy to charitable causes they believe deserve support.

Adele Robertson Toronto

No time

Re Parents. Trapped. (Report on Business, July 11): Lack of child care may both prevent women from going back to work and cripple our economy. But Ottawa says the solution might be expensive. Expenses be damned! Let’s get more child-care spaces and give women the opportunity to get back to work.

My daughter-in-law is looking after three kids, ages 6, 3 and eight months, on her own. Her husband works from home but, because of firings at his company, has to attempt the work of three. He is on the computer day and night.

It’s extremely stressful. And there are thousand of families in similar situations.

Fiona McCall Toronto

High time

Re These Revolutionary Times Have A Downside (July 11): Racism, in its most common forms, means systems, policies and attitudes that create unfair disadvantages for people because of the colour of their skin. Cognitive studies of the brain and the way we think have demonstrated that every one of us – white, Black, brown – has unconscious biases based on our upbringings.

Science has proven that this affects the way we make decisions about hiring and promotion, entitlement to government or other benefits and arrests, charges and sentences in criminal cases. It also affects the way our “fast brain” reacts when we hear a particular accent or see a person of a particular race in the course of daily activities. It is a reality in Canada, where racialized people have lived these experiences since they were born or arrived in this country.

Progress begins with the recognition and elimination of these everyday human reactions, so that life is more fair and equal for all of us. Frustration, fear and suspicion of motives arise when people are unable to reach this starting point.

Raj Anand Former chief commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission; Toronto

Re Whatever Happened To Nuanced Disagreement? (Opinion, July 11): Columnist Robyn Urback supports the claim by authors of an open letter in Harper’s Magazine that “cancel culture” has gone too far. It could also be argued that this is exactly how the process of achieving equilibrium, or the “middle ground,” works.

When the pendulum has swung so far in one direction, it often needs to swing all the way back before coming to rest in the middle. We have tolerated hate speech, police brutality and racial discrimination for so long that we may need to allow a period of intolerance toward those things, before we can achieve the ideal of “fair and open dialogue.”

As I see it, the problem is not with the message of the letter, but with the timing.

Elizabeth Causton Victoria

Who gets published and who does not is inherently political. For a movement to demand that some voices be elevated, and that others take a backseat, should not be seen as signs of the illiberalism of our times, but rather necessary correctives to the current forums of social debate.

The real crisis of free speech can be found in the violent repression of protesters in the streets. Curfews and tear gas are censorship – who cares what people are saying about J.K. Rowling on Twitter!

Ella Bedard Toronto

There’s a lot of wounded outrage in the air.

First there is the defensive reaction of senior Liberal officials to public scrutiny of family connections with WE Charity. Then there is the open letter to Harper’s Magazine about the threat posed by so-called cancel culture to the free expression of ideas.

I believe the Liberals and the letter’s signatories share some things in common: one is the belief that they are decent, thoughtful people with virtuous motives. Such may be true, but it is complicated by a second thing: the possession of a kind of privilege that makes it possible to conflate your own beliefs and interests with the public good.

Privilege also dampens the impulse to self-reflect, which might have prompted Justin Trudeau to wonder whether his personal connections constituted a conflict of interest, or the letter writers to think how far and to whom freedom of expression ever actually extended. I find these appeals to liberal values amount to self-defence: of an entitled world of mostly white privilege that is experiencing some ripples of resistance, and signs of radical change that are long overdue.

Susie O’Brien Hamilton

Travel time

Re Hidden Canada (Arts & Pursuits, July 11): The irony was not lost on this southern Alberta resident that Oldman River, one of the pristine areas in Canada highlighted by The Globe, is near the site of provincial plans for a major metallurgical coal-mining venture. Granted, the development will create much-needed employment and cash flow for Alberta – but at what cost?

The sparkling waters of the river would be at risk of contamination; the richness of critical wildlife corridors at risk of increased vehicular traffic. Alberta seems to be misinformed and devoid of compassion for provincial wild-lands and the associated flora and fauna.

John Nightingale Lethbridge, Alta.

Game time

Re Getting The Fans Back In The Stands (Sports, July 11): On professional sports, Marshall McLuhan once said: “In sport there is no game without an audience. The greatest game minus an audience is a rehearsal which is quite the opposite of a reply.”

In losing its live spectators, a game loses something essential to its nature, namely its dramatics, its back-and-forth hesitations and heated interactions with other fans. It would no longer be a game we know and love.

Notwithstanding the vast viewing audience, a game on television seems not so much a game as a show – the two experiences are not the same. No matter how creative or involving a TV production, I do not believe it can make up for the experience of riding “on the roar of the crowd”.

Patrick O’Neill Toronto

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