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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is seen here in Vancouver in a file photo.


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Hard no

Re How China Raised The Hostage Stakes (Editorial, June 26): Canada’s retired diplomats and jurists, who suggest that we should bow to Chinese pressure in the Meng Wanzhou affair, clearly indicate to me why China feels hostage diplomacy is their best strategy: They have seen it work before.

Chris Marriott Chelsea, Que.

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Re Trudeau Rejects Calls To Free Meng (June 26): The Prime Minister’s words may not have quite the dramatic impact of “just watch me,” but they are about as important for the future of Canada, and perhaps that of the free world. I’m happy to see Canada has a backbone.

Ted Bradley Montreal

Training and numbers

Re Police, Armed With Weapons, Cannot Resolve Mental-health Crises (June 24): A cursory glance at the police responses that led to the deaths of Ejaz Choudry and Regis Korchinski-Paquet shows the sheer number of officers who attended those calls: six and 10, respectively.

In my opinion, police forces could be reduced by 75 per cent and still serve their communities effectively. Police services boards would disagree – but one never asks a barber if one needs a haircut.

Ashok Sajnani Toronto

In Ontario, the province funds a plethora of preparatory programs for prospective police officers. As well as the knowledge and skills they are learning in these early years, these students are developing belief systems and attitudes that they will carry into their careers. Are they the right ones for our time?

Given that there is recognition of the need for systemic changes in policing, ministries overseeing police training programs should mandate a formal review. This should include program objectives, curriculum, methodology, instructor qualifications, student and graduate data, outcomes and a process for ongoing reviews. In addition, such a panel should include representatives of “the protected and served,” as well as educators, employers, union members, graduates and former students.

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David Grimes Ingersoll, Ont.

Relative unease

Re Ontario Eases Isolation Rules To Boost Testing For Farm Workers (June 25): The new guidelines do not seem to me about allowing migrants to work, but more about denying them the opportunity to recover from COVID-19. Our government may have shamed us, but we still have personal responsibility.

Irishman Edmund Burke once famously declared: “It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason and justice tell me I ought to do.” Employers should not entrust their individual consciences with the province’s guidelines. They should always remain responsible for making a moral decision about the humane, reasonable and just treatment of their workers.

Valentine Lovekin Toronto

Toppling history

Re Emily Murphy Is Appointed Canada’s First Female Magistrate (Moment in Time, June 19): In remembering Emily Murphy, we should not forget her role in the criminalization of recreational drugs in Canada.

Writing under the name Janey Canuck in Maclean’s during the 1920s, Ms. Murphy informed readers that “the lowest classes of yellow and black [sic] men” were dragging young white women into the world of drug-peddling. Ms. Murphy’s opinions on drugs and minorities helped Parliament enact draconian drug laws, and set off a wave of drug prohibition that, nearly a century later, has yet to run its course (cannabis notwithstanding).

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Anyone convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana might today prefer that Ms. Murphy’s statue near Parliament Hill be relocated to the bottom of the Ottawa River.

Les Bowser Omemee, Ont.

Re Activists Skeptical Of Rhodes Statue Removal (June 19): Having proudly stood among thousands in April, 2015, to witness the removal of Cecil Rhodes’ statue at the University of Cape Town, I am dispirited to read the same stale defences of his statue’s place at the University of Oxford.

The Rhodes Must Fall movement began in South Africa, galvanizing students there to decolonize their academic conditions and spurring comrades at Oxford to do the same. Oxford’s chancellor, Chris Patten, contends that removing the statue would be hypocritical due to opportunities afforded African students by the Rhodes scholarship. But Rhodes’ wealth and status as benefactor derived from the dispossession of African people.

Mr. Patten’s suggestion that academic opportunity come at the cost of ennobling Rhodes is one that smacks to me of colonial thinking, revealing the work still to be done.

Jon Adam Chen Toronto

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Pierre Trudeau’s record

Re Just Watch Them (Opinion, June 20): While Pierre Trudeau may have opposed the federal government’s use of the War Measures Act to relocate Japanese-Canadians and seize their property during the Second World War, he consistently ruled out offering an apology to Japanese-Canadians while he was prime minister. Challenged in Parliament in 1984 by then opposition leader Brian Mulroney about his government’s refusal to express regret and provide redress, he replied: “I do not think the purpose of a government is to right the past. It cannot rewrite history.”

Larry Hannant Victoria

Cool comparison

Re Bernard-Henri Lévy And The True Toll Of Our Pandemic Shutdowns (June 25) and How Iceland Became A COVID-19 Role Model (June 25): Columnist Konrad Yakabuski cites Rudolf Virchow’s insightful quote: “An epidemic is a social phenomenon comprised of some medical aspects.” Iceland, and its implicit comparison to the United States, is a case in point.

Yes, Iceland gets high marks for testing and tracing. That’s the science. But the critical differences seem to be all social: high levels of social trust, a relatively homogeneous population, deference to authority, a unitary government, a more collectivist and less libertarian culture, a strong and well-funded public health system and socialized medicine.

The weaknesses of the U.S. seem as much philosophical and cultural. Suspicion of government and the inequality of unregulated capitalism are proving to be fatal flaws in a pandemic.

Brian Green Thunder Bay

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Re Canadian Tourism Group’s Push To Loosen Restrictions Poses Serious Risk For Second COVID-19 Wave (Online, June 25): Canada should not have to choose between increased travel and staying safe from COVID-19. Other developed, low-risk countries have data-driven plans to enable travel without risking public health.

One such country, Iceland, is open to international visitors, who are tested for COVID-19 upon arrival with results in hours, and who must provide contact information and use a contact-tracing app. Canada could deploy a similar testing and tracing program to virtually eliminate travel risk and replace our current 14-day quarantine requirement for international arrivals. An EU-style list of safe countries would help further.

Travel inevitably will return at some point. Smart strategies can reduce disruption of lives while supporting employment recovery, without the risk.

Ian Baitz Toronto

Elevated risk?

Re Toronto Starts Stage 2 Of Reopening (June 25): Surely the risk to us seniors and other vulnerable groups has now increased, as there are probably going to be many more infections among the younger set. While they may not get seriously sick, those are the people who the vulnerable may bump into at grocery stores, shops, restaurants, etc.

It’s an even more hostile world out there and we should be even more cautious.

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Trevor Williams Burlington, Ont.

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