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People sit in outdoor booths, built on top of street parking spots outside a restaurant as people walk on a road closed to car traffic in the Byward Market in Ottawa, on July 12, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

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Coast to coast

Re Ontario Urged To Act On Quarantines For Migrant Farm Workers (July 16): An NDP government in British Columbia successfully manages its migrant-worker program with immediate, co-ordinated intervention and tax-funded support. The result: a healthy, productive work force. A Conservative government in Ontario talks loudly about worker protections and then leaves it up to the market, individual employers and chance, with disastrous and costly results.

There was never a better lesson in any political science textbook.

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Jim Reynolds Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Health hacks

Re Russian Hackers Tried To Steal Coronavirus Vaccine Research From Canada, U.S. And Britain, Intelligence Agencies Say (July 17): Instead of wondering if Russia is behind attempts to hack our COVID-19 research, we should be asking why anyone would need to hack it. Why is this research not being shared? Secrecy and intellectual property will only slow worldwide recovery by impeding development and limiting the supply of a future vaccine.

I hope that if a Canadian company develops a vaccine, we allow other countries to license it freely, rather than calling up an arsenal of intellectual-property litigators to defend it. Wouldn’t this show we are still a generous nation of peacekeepers? Otherwise, if a foreign country or company were to develop one first and were unwilling to license it at a reasonable price, we should manufacture it in Canada anyway.

Hewing to IP principles would be to bless everyone-for-themselves corporate nationalism, when what the world should pursue is international co-operation.

Douglas Small Toronto

Drug defences

Re B.C. Overdose Deaths Hit Record High For A Second Month (July 17): For 135 years, First United has had a presence at Hasting and Gore in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Every day, our staff and volunteers witness the devastating and dehumanizing effects of poverty, homelessness and the scourge of drug addiction.

Drugs for personal use should be immediately decriminalized, with regulated and legal access to clean and safe drugs made available. We want to see the federal government legislate toward these ends, as drugs for personal use should be seen as a health issue, not a criminal one.

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To do so in the name of sensible drug policy, as well as compassion, would save countless lives and serve to decriminalize many aspects of daily life in the neighbourhood we serve.

Carmen Lansdowne Reverend, Vancouver

Flying fears

Re Should Airlines Sell The Middle Seats On Planes? Let’s Look At The Facts (July 13): The International Aviation Transport Association argues that screening passengers, requiring face masks and using HEPA air filters should make it safe for passengers. While I admit the worst cold I ever had after a flight might have been caused by me touching seats and folding tables, it’s a trifle much to tout air filters as a saving grace on planes.

If they are as good as IATA thinks, why did I contract the 24-hour, 10-day cough from the person across the aisle on a flight to Morocco? The average filter can’t handle viruses. But one can hope airlines will rigorously sanitize everything inside a plane after every flight. Sanitizing supplies could be provided in washrooms.

Winston Jackson Victoria

Perhaps contributor Robert Greenhill and other aerospace executives should spend a year travelling in the middle seat on planes, to test the validity and reliability of their COVID-19 safety plan.

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Ted Emes Burnaby, B.C.

Re By Reducing Air Travel Within Canada, COVID-19 Has Opened Another Equity Gap (July 10): It’s clear that air service is essential for many Canadian communities. Let’s make passenger and freight service by air a national essential service.

While we’re at it, let’s design an efficient and effective intercity bus system across this country.

Mark Seasons Peterborough, Ont.

Small business

Re Ontario Seems To Have Its Priorities Out Of Whack (July 17): Yes, it might make sense to keep larger bars and certainly nightclubs closed for now. But all restaurants, no matter how small?

Many of these businesses have been shuttered for months, with little or no revenue coming in, fixed expenses to pay and, thanks to flawed commercial-rent responses from governments, no effective rent relief. Some of the only alternatives are to take on more and more debt, or face bankruptcy and closing.

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I believe these smaller establishments can be opened safely, with proper distancing rules in place. It’s been done in Europe and other parts of Canada. Surely Ontario is no different.

Brian Bergman Calgary


Re Ontario Was Right To End Academic Streaming – But It Must Now Devise A Viable Alternative (Opinion, July 11): If Ontario can find systemic racism in its past practice of academic streaming, how can the province justify its continued support of the Catholic school system? Most other provinces have already come to the realization that it’s time to treat education as a universally public service – what’s stopping Ontario?

We should dump the practice of funding any religion-based school system.

A. J. Blauer Ottawa

While teaching at one of Toronto’s open-concept public schools in 1978, I was told that I would never become a successful practitioner of open-concept teaching until I believed in it. This was five years before Ontario decided that it no longer believed in the viability of what is now viewed as a failed educational experiment, and about 20 years before contributor Andy Hargreaves reported to the government that destreaming “only worked when teachers believed in it.”

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I suspect that Mr. Hargreaves has it backward. What I observed in the 1990s, while teaching Grade 9 history, English and geography for the Toronto District School Board, was that teachers who believed in destreaming were the ones who had been assigned students for whom it worked. When destreaming didn’t work, it was often for reasons that had nothing to do with what teachers believed about its many merits.

Alistair Macrae Toronto

Local colour

Re In Living Colour (Letters, July 10): A letter writer references depictions of a Black Jesus in the Caribbean and Africa. If he were to visit St. Jude’s in his hometown of Oakville, he could see a window by the Canadian artist, Yvonne Williams, in which Jesus, Peter and Andrew are all dark-skinned in the call of those disciples.

Down the road in Hamilton, at Christ’s Church Cathedral, he could find another Williams depiction of a Black Jesus, Mary and God in the window of four great festivals. These images are probably more historically correct than the typical Anglo-Saxon images one usually sees in stained-glass windows.

Alexander (Sandy) Darling Hamilton

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