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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during a meeting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 17, 2020.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

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Where should we look?

Re Ottawa’s Deal With WE Needs A Closer Look (Editorial, July 7): I am unsure what crime has been committed by the Liberals regarding the WE Charity contract. So teachers would have been paid to sign up and manage students. But then students in the program would be paid at less than minimum wage. So would participants have been paid too much or too little? I’m confused.

Any federal program requires trained staff to manage it, and WE is already set up to manage such programs. There needs to be a “credible process” for organizing this program, NDP MP Charlie Angus says. But my credulity is stretched: By the time the “process” has finished, the summer will likely be over, and our youth will be poorer and have little experience in service.

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WE is a Canadian charity organized by the Kielburger brothers. They have had columns in The Globe and Mail many times in the past. We should be proud of our made-in-Canada solutions to social problems. Charges against the government seem to be based more in envy and jealousy, rather than any crimes.

Kay Norton Coquitlam, B.C.

As a student many years ago, I was taught that the definition of democracy was: “the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” A revised version could now read: “the government of the people, by Justin Trudeau, for the people.” High time that we should revert to the original.

Joe Healy Newmarket, Ont.

How do we commiserate?

Re Canada Caught In The Crossfire Of A New Era Of Economic Power Politics (Report on Business, July 8): Having thoroughly read yesterday’s Globe and Mail, I was rather disappointed to see there were no reports of threats against Canada from China’s Foreign Ministry. I’ve come to look forward to these as an updated version of The Globe’s defunct Morning Smile. Is someone at the Foreign Ministry falling down on the job?

The Chinese government’s scattershot approach to threats seems to have done more to bring together other countries of the world than the United Nations has ever done. So, please, let’s have more.

Steve Soloman Toronto

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Have we done harm?

Re Health Experts Press Ottawa For ‘Balanced Approach’ To Pandemic (July 8): As a family physician, I often get to see the whole picture of health of a patient, and public health is only one determinant.

Government officials are doing a fine job of dealing with public health, but don’t deal specifically with cardiology, cancer care, psychiatry, orthopedics or pediatrics. All these other aspects of health have been neglected or severely curtailed for almost four months. When finally collected, it will be a very sobering statistic to see what harm has been caused to the health of Canadians by a single-minded response to COVID-19 – as opposed to COVID-19 itself.

Indeed, a better-balanced point of view should be essential.

David Barker Oshawa, Ont.

When should we eat?

Re COVID-19 Could Change The Way We Feed Canadians (July 6): Contributor Lori Nikkel points out that more than half of all food in Canada never makes it to our tables. I believe an enormous amount of that waste could be stopped with the stroke of a pen: Do away with best-before dates. It causes grocers, institutions and households to discard perfectly good food.

After the date, food may not be at its top quality, but it is usually still good to eat. Much of the public believes they will get sick if “expired” food is not disposed. Most food banks will not accept perfectly good food with expired dates for legal reasons.

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Before the era of best-before dates, the smell test told consumers what to do. I’ve seen no records of rampant food poisoning from those days. If we want to keep food out of landfills, we should rediscover the smell test.

Murray McEwen Erin, Ont.

Where should we invest?

Re The Biotech Blind Spot (Report On Business, July 4): “Risk-adjusted” is not just a buzzword. Investing in biotechs is incredibly risky and requires significant, expensive research effort to identify winners, even assuming that it can be done at all. Under current circumstances, there is not much evidence that investors, even large ones, are prepared to pay the cost. Contrary to industry lore, investing is not a game, even of probabilities.

One of the responsibilities of pension funds is to avoid write-offs or crystallizing losses. The biotech sector should not qualify for pension investment – it has experienced huge home runs, followed by bankruptcies.

Hurrah for responsible caution.

Peter de Auer Former director, pension fund, Ontario Hydro; Port Hope, Ont.

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The Canadian investment community should note the extraordinarily important role philanthropy has played in helping fund and prepare a coming wave of made-in-Canada biotech success stories.

Philanthropists, as individuals and volunteer boards of strong granting organizations, have funded our best and brightest scientific minds for well more than a decade. They have also helped change the culture of academia, from a focus on journal publications to company formation and intellectual-property exploitation.

“Commercialize or fossilize” has been a rallying cry of many philanthropists who have lifted this vital sector.

Paul Alofs Former CEO, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation; Toronto

Where should we go?

Re Can You Please Direct Me To The Nearest Toilet? (July 4): Unlike our access to public toilets, we cannot shut down our bladders, bowels or menstrual cycles. However, we can adapt, redesign and build more accessible, gender-neutral and environmentally responsible public toilets.

As we’ve seen, cities quickly adapted and collaborated with organizations to provide urgent services to those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Let’s reflect on what we’ve learned and commit to including a network of safe, clean and accessible toilets as critical public-health planning.

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As columnist Marcus Gee concludes: “If the Romans knew that public toilets were an essential part of urban civilization, why don’t we?” That was 2,000 years ago.

Taylor Hart GottaGo! campaign; Ottawa

Re Group Of Students Creates The Basket Project To Bring Sanitary Supplies To Homeless People (Report on Business, July 4): I have discovered, in the course of researching genealogy, that there were places for the elderly and the chronically ill to live, a hundred years ago and more. Yes, they were institutions, often run by religious orders. Yes, the accommodations would have encouraged the spread of contagious illnesses. But people without resources did not have to live under bridges.

We are doing a very poor job of keeping up with our ancestors. I think my great-grandparents would be horrified at what happens to people who lack resources now.

Joanna Anderson Burlington, Ont.

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