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A man wears a face mask as he walks around in Old Montreal on July 18, 2021. As a start, let’s stop coaxing people to save their own lives and ours, a reader writes.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Proof positive

Re To Work Here You Must Be Vaccinated (Editorial, July 19): No argument: Most Canadians have accepted such a contention for just about as long as COVID-19 has visited. But we and our political leaders flounder. We are, after all, a constitutional democracy and our individual rights, however weird their conception and practice, must be cherished and protected in law, if not medical science.

Maybe with this “I’d rather not” absurdity threatening to scupper genuine national recovery from the pandemic, we should resuscitate the other R-word – responsibility – and pair it with rights. Embed them in the Constitution and get on with real civil society.

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As a start, let’s stop coaxing people to save their own lives and ours. No “reaching out” pap; let’s “order” life-saving social behaviour.

P.D. Brown Toronto


It would appear that many vaccine-hesitant people are put off by the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines were created, tested and then approved. The approval process should actually be seen as, finally, an efficient system working as it should.

For too long, the approval of new drugs took ages, passing through numerous levels of bureaucracy and drawn-out “studies,” followed by scrutiny from various political committees. Only under the pressure of a pandemic did things happen with a speed that should be regarded as normal.

Colin Lowe Nanaimo, B.C.

Space jam

Re A Small Flight For Jeff Bezos, A Giant Leap For A Billionaire’s Passion For Corporate Space Travel (July 21): As I breathe the smoke from forest fires in Northern Ontario, and British Columbia declares a state of emergency, I am proud to have never bought anything from Amazon. Thus I did not help to fund the space trip of Jeff Bezos.

It boggles my mind to think that space travel is still considered exciting and fun, and no thought is given to the completely unnecessary and massive carbon emissions produced by this spectacle.

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Chris Sprague Guelph, Ont.


Thorstein Veblen would love the space exploits of billionaires as contemporary examples of conspicuous consumption, which leaves the rest of us in the dust, financial and real, on Earth.

Do these plutocrats appreciate how irritating they are to most of the rest of us, as they expend resources in minutes which would take most of us more than a lifetime to accumulate? At a time when we are supposedly concerned about fossil fuels degrading our planet, how do they rationalize burning vast amounts of such fuels on narcissistic jaunts?

Ian Guthrie Ottawa

Naturally speaking

Re LNG Firms, Nisga’a Nation Unite On $55-billion Venture (Report on Business, July 19): Canada proclaims loudly to the world that it wants to be a leader in the fight against climate change. A $55-billion deal to facilitate the export of natural gas to Asia is among the poorest examples I can think of to demonstrate such leadership.

That a First Nation is involved would appear to make this project political dynamite. Nonetheless, for Canada as a whole it feels like hypocrisy.

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David Kister Kingston

Democratic damage

Re American Democracy Is Crumbling (July 15): Restricting voting seems cheap political tonic for Republicans; it addresses symptoms but leaves wholly untouched the underlying cause.

Recent changes in Republican-controlled state legislatures might work for an election cycle or two, but as long as the party remains dependent on white, rural voters with lower levels of education in a country that is increasingly diverse, urban and more highly educated, the underlying problem will likely grow.

Republicans have to address their demographic challenge at some point with conservative policies that appeal to a diverse range of people. The alternative would be to increase anti-democratic chicanery with each successive electoral cycle, ultimately to a point where the system implodes.

Shattering 245 years of democracy for a few years of Republican control is not much of an exchange.

Eric LeGresley Ottawa

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Settlers of Canada

Re Reconciliation And Contrition (Letters, July 19): Like a letter-writer, I was educated by nuns in Britain and also ceased to be a Catholic long ago. But in defence of my teachers (who never used corporal punishment and genuinely loved children) I feel bound to point out that not all Catholic schools were the same.

The teaching order at my school also ran schools in India and Pakistan (I believe Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, attended one). They offered a Western education for the middle-class daughters of South Asian parents. At least one of those schools has an “old girls” website where former students exchange happy memories of their time there.

All this is not to deny the appalling cruelty and travesty of education in Canada’s residential schools, but simply to say that readers shouldn’t assume that all nuns and priests were monsters or despised their “heathen” pupils.

Ann Pearson Vancouver


Re For Some, The Definition Of ‘Settler’ Is As Difficult To Pin Down As Reconciliation (July 20): Columnist Drew Hayden Taylor is entitled to use the word “settler” if he wishes, if it makes sense from his point of view. I prefer the word Canadian, as it equally includes citizens who came here a long time ago, and new Canadians who arrived last week.

If one looks back far enough, we all came from somewhere else anyway. It’s how we respect each other today that counts.

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Robert Girvan Toronto

Bare necessities

Re Thirty Years After Gwen Jacob’s Arrest For Going Topless, Little Has Changed (July 19): Sadly, the heady days of 2004 – when some women went topless on Calgary’s Red Mile to celebrate a Flames victory, or simply to demonstrate their freedom to lift their tops – are long gone. Women’s breasts remain shrouded, even during breastfeeding!

While men also may be experiencing body shame, one still sees younger men, on unregulated tennis courts, going shirtless. Perhaps the only shift in behaviour is that, thanks to COVID-19 and working from home, some women have given up on the constraints of bras. We haven’t “burned bras,” merely abandoned them.

Gwen Jacob still deserves kudos for successfully challenging an outdated and sexist practice of hiding women’s breasts as if they are shameful or sexual, not just human.

Mary Valentich Calgary

Curtain-up

Re It’s Debut, Take Two, For Directors At Stratford (July 17): As the Stratford Festival reopens, I am sure that a maintenance superintendent will explain to returning staff their duties as, “To sweep; perchance to clean.”

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Ken Mark Toronto


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