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Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, B.C., May 27, 2020.

Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters

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Troubled water

Re Chrétien Could Have Ended The China Conflict (June 25): As much as I respect Jean Chrétien - who I knew as a minister and for whom I worked as deputy clerk of the Privy Council Office – that he would use Meng Wanzhou’s case as a “bargaining chip” would not be in Canada’s interests.

While I assume that his intent is to obtain the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, it also appears to be aimed at preserving Canada’s relationship with China. Unfortunately, that relationship looks threatened – not by anything that Canada has done, but by China’s efforts to force us to breach longstanding treaty obligations with the United States.

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To weigh the two relationships in terms of our national interest, clearly we should favour the U.S. over China, which is, at best, a major trading partner of questionable reliability. Even if one dislikes the current U.S. administration, that judgment should remain the same.

As to Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, their treatment by China is unacceptable and should be seen as such by all Canadians. It should be in the national interest that every effort be made to secure their release as soon as possible. To breach our treaty obligations to do so, however, would be a bridge too far.

W.P.D. Elcock Ottawa

Heat check

Re Tories Lagging In Covid-19 Committee Attendance (June 23): Without a doubt in my mind, the most outrageous thing Justin Trudeau has done since becoming Prime Minister is to limit the sitting of Parliament. All logic would point to the Conservatives putting full pressure on the Liberals to expose such disregard for parliamentary procedure.

While Conservatives have been vocal critics, their actions speak far louder, as their 47-per-cent attendance in COVID-19 committee meetings demonstrates. Sadly, many of us have come to expect ruling parties to display brazen arrogance. It seems we’d better get ready for a healthy dose of hubris from some opposition parties, too.

Robert McManus Dundas, Ont.

Re Tory Candidates Face Off In English Debate (June 19): Opportunity knocks. The Conservative Party is in the throes of a leadership election with four candidates in the hunt: two long-time politicos tied to the Conservative establishment, one neophyte MP and one relative newbie: Leslyn Lewis.

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Ms. Lewis is a Black Toronto lawyer with a very impressive academic record in environment, business and law. She is a proven activist and leader. In Ms. Lewis is an opportunity to send a clear message to Canadian politicians of all stripes in a very practical way.

Should she get to lead the Conservatives, that old adage, “be careful what you wish for,” may haunt her. The Conservative establishment won’t take to the loss and challenge kindly, and then, of course, will come the barbs and slurs from other parties, the radical right and all others with vested interests in the status quo.

Change comes hard, but for those in the streets and their supporters, this could be the opportunity of their lifetime. Perhaps it’s fitting that, should this iron strike hot, the Conservatives would first feel the heat.

Jim Quinn Ottawa

On the move

Re Small Ideas To Improve Life In The Big City (Editorial, June 23): By de-emphasizing the importance of the automobile through the enhancement of public transit, it is also possible to create streets that are more pedestrian-friendly.

Streets can change, from conduits for people going somewhere else to settings for social activity and busy commerce. This is a significant element of Toronto’s King Street project, where unobtrusive transit serves a street with social activity and attractive natural features, and cars are limited.

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The importance of turning streets into something more than passages for speeding cars has been well learned in many European cities.

We could do well to follow suit.

Graeme Cropley Toronto

Re A Transit-oriented Redesign Of The City: Finding Space For The Next Million People (June 17): I’m an urban planner. When we looked at moving to Toronto in 1972, I took a city map and drew a circle of one-kilometre radius around each subway station. We searched for a house inside those circles, finding one a short walk to Royal York station in the west.

I now live in a condo at Towne Square in downtown Oakville, a comfortable walk or quick bus ride to the train station. Toronto today is making progress to high-density nodes centred on transit. At a different scale, the urban region should be of undulating contours of low-medium-high density, transit-centred nodes of development, separated by parkland.

Reiner Jaakson Oakville, Ont.

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Ontario’s new policy of high-density development zones around transit stations is a sound principle for accommodating Toronto’s future population growth. But I find the obsessive focus on developing around closely spaced downtown subway stations to be poor city-building and poor economics.

Given sky-high land acquisition costs, such development would replace some of Canada’s densest-built, most expensive single-family housing – with even more expensive housing, in high-rise form. A “luxury Hong Kong downtown” makes no sense to me; the 3.5 million Torontonians of the year 2050 will likely find their jobs clustered in many parts of the city, not just on Bay Street.

City planning’s focus should be on creating complete communities along transit lines in low-density suburban areas, where land assembly is significantly cheaper. Residential development is already becoming a trend at major suburban intersections, but these neighbourhoods are not yet communities.

With transit capacities projected to be scarce even in 2050, Toronto should plan for new suburban centres where residents can walk or bike to work (as many downtowners can), with what it left missing in several overdeveloped downtown locations: schools, libraries, community spaces, employment centres, social services and green space. Surely we can learn?

Ila Bossons Toronto

Midnight special

Re A Beautiful Feeling (Letters, June 23) and Attention! (Letters, June 24): Growing up an “Air Force brat,” my father usually was long gone to work before we rose for school each day. But about once a week, my father would get into the Scotch and throw on some Johnny Cash or Hank Snow and build the evening to a deafening crescendo.

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He invariably would make it to midnight, when it was time to greet each new day with The Drunken Piper or Highland Laddie off the 1957 album Pipes And Drums Of The 48th Highlanders Of Canada. Nothing quite stirs the soul like awakening from a deep sleep to a barrage of bagpipes at 110 decibels and my father stomping around the living room as he prepares to “slay a dragon.”

Jeffrey Peckitt Oakville, Ont.

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