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People hold signs calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig during an extradition hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, March 6, 2019.

Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

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Letters on letters

Re Trudeau Rejects Calls To Free Meng (June 26): Nineteen eminent Canadians have publicly called for the Canadian government to halt extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou in order to obtain the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

That individual Canadians hold views different from the government is neither improper nor surprising, nor that they publicly state them. When dealing with a situation as complex and delicate as this one, however, a high degree of prudence should be called for. This group’s views should have been conveyed to the government in private.

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I believe Canada needs international allies to resolve this dispute, and the Prime Minister’s efforts to enlist that support should not be undermined at home. Instead, it seems China has gained allies – 19 of them.

Tony Manera Ottawa

Meng Wanzhou and Huawei are of great importance to China, but I believe it has made a gross error in imprisoning Canadians – a belligerent policy of big-stick diplomacy, which China itself has decried for decades.

Canada was among the first Western nations to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic in 1970 and support its place in the United Nations Security Council. Over the years, we established mutually beneficial trading and cultural relations. All that goodwill seems to have been largely squandered by China’s actions.

Unlike the letter-writers calling for Ms. Meng to be released, Canada should work with a third influential party (not the United States) to convince China that it is in its own interests to release the Canadians. Such action might open up future possibilities.

Gary Smith Former Canadian ambassador and director-general for Asia; Perth, Ont.

Re China Links Detention Of Two Canadians To Meng Arrest (June 25): The suggestion by Chinese foreign affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian that releasing Meng Wanzhou “could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians” has undercut previous denials that the two matters are linked. China seems to have thus admitted that they practised hostage diplomacy, thereby confirming the wisdom of the Canadian government’s refusal to deal on these terms.

China has made it impossible for Canada to intervene in Ms. Meng’s case without appearing to cave to bullying. Had they engaged in quiet diplomacy, without bullying and repeatedly resorting to megaphone pronouncements, perhaps Canada might have been willing to explore a quiet solution.

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This would have been entirely appropriate right after Donald Trump made it clear that he was prepared to use Ms. Meng in his own game of hostage diplomacy; Canada would have been justified in distancing itself from this unsavoury approach. But China made that impossible, and it is they – and only they – who should be blamed for the ordeals suffered by Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Mark Bailey Former Canadian ambassador to Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Austria/UN-Vienna; Ottawa

There seems no greater fallacy in public policy than the illusion that life-and-death problems can be solved by sloganeering.

We believe that not paying ransoms, or using an abstraction such as “rule of law,” does nothing to help Canadians. Ransoms are as common as trade delegations and, in our line of work, informal international commitments not to pay ransoms have been as useless as the global war on terror.

Using the Extradition Act to protect the lives of the two Canadians imprisoned in China would be a valid use of the rule of law. It would not unleash forces of chaos nor put the lives of all Canadians in increased danger.

Gar Pardy and Michael Welsh, former ambassadors and directors-general, Consular Affairs Bureau; Ottawa and Stratford, Ont.

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Pandemic playback

Re Canada’s Lost Months (June 26): On one hand, it is comforting to know that Canada has many experts who saw the pandemic coming and advocated for early preparation.

On the other, it is infuriating that their recommendations were mostly ignored. Let’s get different people in charge before the second wave hits.

Rudy Buller Toronto

Police playbook

Re Police, Armed With Weapons, Cannot Resolve Mental-health Crises (June 24): During an emergency-response training session I attended as a municipal official some years ago, a large poster in the classroom stated our priorities. At the top of the list, in bold caps, was “protect yourself.” I recall questioning why protecting the public wasn’t the top priority.

I find the truth of the matter to be that our police services have been allowed to evolve into over-resourced agents and are deployed with the above priority at top of mind. I see no demonstrable need for police to deploy body armour and weapons during most of their duties.

Police management, unions and politicians should insist that officers execute their sometimes difficult duties with courage and care, but prohibit access to weapons that can cause more harm than good, especially when individuals are in distress.

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If the will exists, they could fix things and save lives today.

Tim Moore Port Perry, Ont.

Re Changing Of The Guard (Opinion, June 27): Systemic racism is but one of many problems I find with the RCMP, and a huge issue is that the force has become too large and unwieldy, its mandates too broad and complex for proper management. Fundamental to reform would be ending the practice of providing service to eight provinces.

I see no rational reason why some provinces have their own police forces and some do not. Ending these services would allow officers to master a smaller range of duties; clear the confusion in jurisdiction; end confrontation with people in mental distress, since that is a provincial issue. It would limit the RCMP’s duties, allowing offices to become better allies to Canadians, especially non-white minorities.

Citizens should demand an end to the RCMP’s provincial services. Let them enforce federal law. Replacing the RCMP with First Nations police in Indigenous communities would be a similar part of the solution.

Ed Whitcomb Author, Rivals for Power: Ottawa and the Provinces; Ottawa

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Words to play by

Re Bad Wordplay: Should Slurs, Swearing And Vulgar Terms Be Allowed In Scrabble? (June 25): Scrabble players are free to choose the dictionary they wish to use: Those who would avoid the offending words should play out of the American Merriam-Webster, which excludes them; those with thicker skins should prefer the British Collins, which includes them. Live and let live.

Wayne Sumner Toronto

Who knew I could win at Scrabble using only four-letter words?

Patricia Phillips Toronto

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