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Finance Minister Bill Morneau appears before the House of Commons finance committee via video link on July 22, 2020.

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A-G awakened

Re Silenced (July 25) and Auditor-General To Probe Lapse In Pandemic Warning System (July 30): This is an impressive exposure of what happens when a specialized group of experts are dismantled at the behest of bureaucrats and politicians for meager savings. The outcome was one of the worst disasters affecting this country in recent history.

I sincerely hope an investigation recommends a reversal of this absurd decision and highlights how such decisions are made, so as to prevent another disaster affecting our country in the future.

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Wasseem Moussa MD; Cornwall, Ont.

As someone who worked in public service for 40 years, I read the story of the evisceration of the Global Public Health Intelligence Network with a familiar sick feeling. From my experience, the GPHIN, and Canadians, are victims of two practices that have become established over the past few decades.

The first is to cut budgets at all costs. Governments throughout Canada have followed the dictates of wealthy individuals and corporations who want democratically elected governments to be as small as possible, and who do not want to pay taxes.

The second is the belief that agencies can be “effectively” (that means cheaply) managed by individuals who have no expertise in the service to be delivered. In most cases, the people who suffer most from these practices are Indigenous, racialized, poor, elderly, disabled or otherwise marginalized.

In this case, we have all suffered. Will we learn something?

Judith Keene Toronto

Can we go further?

Re Ethics Investigation Of Morneau Expanded (July 30): It seems to me the Trudeau family’s involvement with WE Charity stems from their celebrity, and nothing more than that. Virtually all major charities have a celebrity sponsor. I believe Margaret Trudeau was paid for her speaking engagements because her son’s election enhanced her public profile further, which made her even more valuable in securing donations. I find nothing wrong with that.

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Where I live, a local theatre solicits donations. For a small contribution, donors are politely acknowledged and thanked. For considerably larger ones, donors are invited backstage to meet the actors, producer and director. I think the Morneau family’s foreign excursions and other WE perks were due to the size of their donations. I find nothing wrong with that either.

I believe the crux of the matter is not one of conflict of interest, but of poor judgment.

Mark Lipski Vanier, Ont.

In my 20-plus years on North Vancouver city council, conflicts of interest have always been top of mind. In rookie school way back, I remember the wide-ranging scope of potential conflicts, and the advice to avoid even the appearance of one.

I took an oath to uphold this. It is a principle on which our democracy is based: One should not profit personally through holding an elected office. So how then did the Prime Minister and Finance Minister forget such an important sworn duty?

These two should pay a steep price for their arrogance. Nothing short of losing office will suffice for me. A message should be sent that breaking the oath they swore is not only against the law, but that the law will be enforced.

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Roderick Clark North Vancouver

Green grievances

Re Canada Can Lead On Climate Change, If Its Leaders Match Their Words With Deeds (July 30): Contributor Mary Robinson seems too kind. She states that “Mr. Trudeau risks severely damaging his country’s credentials on climate change.” Whatever “credentials” Canada may have would be completely undeserved.

Decades of successive Liberal and Conservative governments have, despite lofty rhetoric, done almost nothing to reduce Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions, often choosing instead to prop up fossil fuels.

I fear Ms. Robinson’s call for Canada to “lead from the front” with “ambitious decision-making” will go utterly unheeded.

Jeff Passmore Ottawa

Re Power Out (Letters, July 29): A letter-writer suggests that Ontario will not be receiving any green energy investments because of the current government. Rather, the cause may be that investors remember the efforts of previous governments to “invest” in renewable power that turned out to be something other than planned.

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Having campaigned against the McGuinty and Wynne governments’ waste of precious tax dollars on green investments, it would not be wise for the Ford government to go down that rough road again.

Clay Atcheson North Vancouver

School’s in

Re Faculty, Staff Protest U of T’s Plan For Fall (July 28): I am proud of the University of Toronto’s plan for the fall. The school has developed an innovative reopening plan that would ensure online access to courses, but also permit in-person teaching where possible. I am determined to teach in that “hybrid” manner – because in-person teaching is important for many students, and it can be done safely.

Unfortunately, the U of T Faculty Association wants to prevent me from doing so, with a petition demanding that the university go exclusively online. How ironic: An association dedicated to defending academic freedom now seems determined to compromise it, by making it impossible for me to safely teach in person.

This would be a betrayal of our mission as educators.

Fiona Miller Chair in Health Management Strategies, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

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Police perspectives

Re The Police Need Reform – My Experiences Show Why (First Person, July 28): More stories like Tony Wong’s, please, about the need for police reform.

Police reform may contribute to fostering greater equality and reducing police violence in Canada. This is imaginable. We can do it. Canadians should be nudged more, if not gently shoved. The cause should also have a capable leader. If she was Black, that might help.

Maybe we should require more formal education before candidates are trained how to police. We could also reduce the number of big toys given to our local police, and at the same time ask them to be better organized and more collaborative. They should come to work with reason and compassion.

And don’t forget to recognize the good cops.

Lorne Pendleton Edmonton

Tony Wong’s insightful essay on the need for police reform should be required reading for all police officers in Canada. With his dreadful experiences, he clearly indicates why Black lives matter, rather than “ALL lives matter.”

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The first and foremost reform should be a federal mandate that all Canadian police forces commit immediately to hiring many more minorities.

David Enns Cornwall, Ont.

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