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People wear face masks as they walk through a market in Montreal, on Nov. 16.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Another word

Re More Masks (Letters, Nov. 16): Yes, “mandate” is a dirty word. But “required” is not.

Words like “mandate” can imply attitudes such as authoritarianism, which I believe is why the word resulted in the rebellious Ottawa protests.

There have been no “mandates” to abstain from smoking in restaurants, stop at red lights or not drive under the influence of alcohol. They are all good, old “requirements,” as should be wearing masks indoors.

People generally do not become rebellious about requirements. We have had that word forever.

Bruce Hutchison Retired clinical psychologist, Ottawa

Past due

Re CBSA Misses Deadline To Provide ArriveCan Invoices To Parliamentary Committee (Nov. 15): I’ll remember the Canada Border Services Agency’s approach if the Canada Revenue Agency ever audits me.

“Sorry, I don’t know when I can provide that information. Subcontractors? Nah, I just deal with the contractor, they like to use a blank cheque. So I don’t really know who they pay or why.”

Leo Deveau Halifax

Warm waters

Re Arctic Surveillance Is Lacking, Auditor-General Warns (Nov. 16): The federal government should pay close attention to the Auditor-General’s warning on our lack of readiness for the changing Arctic environment, both meteorological and political.

National borders are nothing but lines drawn on a map. When push comes to shove, a nation’s territory consists of no more than it can control.

As the Northwest Passage becomes an increasingly important trade route, Canada will learn that other countries – particularly the United States, Russia and China – may not be as willing to recognize Canadian claims to sovereignty. Failing to create a robust Arctic presence could ultimately lead to a deal with the devil: most likely letting the U.S. act as our gatekeepers, in exchange for free movement in the region.

Successive governments have ignored our third ocean border for decades, while other countries have steadily increased their Northern presence. One hopes we have not left it too late.

Tom Curran Prince Edward County, Ont.

Past, present

Re Ontario Conservation Authorities Lose Powers With Bill 23 (Nov. 15): In 1954, my seven-year-old eyes viewed the devastation of downtown Woodbridge, Ont., caused by Hurricane Hazel. In 1971, as a masters student at the University of Alberta, I wrote a research paper celebrating the success of Ontario’s conservation authorities as a unique (world-class?) approach for river-basin management and protection.

In recent decades, as a cottage owner on the sand-dune shoreline of Lake Huron, I have continued to be impressed with how the local authority has endeavoured to control human impulse to ignore long-term environmental realities.

Then I hear news of a new Ontario Greenbelt strategy. Thanks to Doug Ford for hammering a couple of nails into the province’s environmental heritage.

Kenneth Taylor Calgary

Different interpretation

Re Royal Ontario Museum ‘Pauses’ Indigenous Gallery For Consultations (Nov. 10): This past summer, my wife and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of travelling to Haida Gwaii. An unexpected pleasure was the Haida Gwaii Museum.

This small place combines artifacts and art with well-explained displays. Why had this museum experience left me so much more fulfilled than others? It came down mainly to the fact that all written and oral commentary was in the first person, rather than the ubiquitous third-person “expert” voice of most museums. People told their own stories candidly, comprehensively (the good, the bad, the beautiful) and without judgement to whomever wished to listen.

Kudos to the Royal Ontario Museum and others seeking to mount First Nations exhibits. But rather than mere “consultations,” may I suggest that they hand over exhibit budgets to the people in whose cultures they are interested, get out of the way and prepare to be enlightened and delighted.

Donald Hall Ottawa

Art attack

Re Retirement Won’t Stop Suzuki From Fighting For Nature (Arts & Books, Nov. 12): Generally I admire David Suzuki for his activism over so many years. However, I disagree that the recent “guerilla activism” of throwing soup and mashed potatoes on famous paintings is “a brilliant way to show what a contradictory, screwed-up value system we have.”

He has a point, and sometimes extreme actions are necessary. But I can’t support the idea that vandalism of art, beloved by many, is a way to foster awareness about the destruction of our environment.

Young activists can glue themselves to walls if they wish. But they should stop alienating art lovers who may share their environmental views.

Mary Valentich Calgary

Re Climate Activists Throw Maple Syrup On Vancouver Art Gallery Painting (Nov. 14): Stumps and Sky, the artwork in question, depicts the destruction of British Columbia’s magnificent forests that Emily Carr so revered.

On March 8, 1936, she wrote (as published in Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr): “I wish I could make my paintings help the world.” We can only hope.

Let us be thankful for the courage and creativity of those seeking to stop the fossil fuel supremacy that has prevented our governments from protecting ancient forests and the climate.

Anne Hansen Victoria

Roe v. Wade

Re Persecution In A Puritan Nation (Opinion, Nov. 12): I believe there is a difference between the abortion issue per se and the politicization of the same.

Most of those who understand the issue per se focus on the fact that abortion is of concern only to a woman, her partner and her doctor. Neither the U.S. government nor state legislatures have any business with it. The fact that Roe v. Wade protected reproductive rights against state encroachment should be seen as a political issue extraneous to the matter.

In this manner, the moral and health issues raised by abortion as intervention are obscured, glossed and finally lost in the shuffle, which should not bother distinguishing between protecting rights and opting against such protection. Both seem excessive.

David Berlin Founding editor, Walrus Magazine; Toronto

Return to sender

Re The Return Of Donald Trump, The Candidate To Weaken The West (Nov. 17): Here we go again. The media gasps in anticipation of at least two more years of this nightmare circus. There will be flags, caps and lies.

We should all look away; turn to a different page in the newspaper; change the channel on television. We should show willful indifference.

Is there not a notwithstanding clause or Emergencies Act to cover this?

Brian Emes Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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