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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises to deliver a statement on the National Day of Observance of COVID-19 in Ottawa on March 11, 2021.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Government reaction

Re PM Says Office Knew Of Vance Complaint (March 11): Justin Trudeau says his government has always taken allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously. I could fill this page with a list of things his government takes “very seriously.” However, it seems a list of those that have been acted upon would be much shorter.

The question I always ask is, “And therefore?” To me, it usually means the government will seriously try to make the problem go away. But if it gets too hot, Mr. Trudeau could always prorogue Parliament, give the Defence Minister a nice appointment outside government, threaten an election, then move onto more press conferences and seeming inaction on COVID-19.

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Stuart McRae Toronto

In the room

Re Quebec Was Not Alone In Paying For Pierre Trudeau’s Mistakes (Opinion, March 6): A few months after the election of the Lévesque government in Quebec, Pierre Trudeau instructed his then-executive assistant to summon Sun Life’s Tom Galt to dinner at 24 Sussex Dr., in order to twist Mr. Galt’s arm and prevent the company from leaving the province. The effort proved unsuccessful, but Mr. Trudeau continued to work energetically in the following months and years to strengthen the Quebec economy.

There was the thriving aerospace industry, for example, centred in Montreal and built in the late 1970s on federal support. It became an engine of the Quebec economy, and a testament to Mr. Trudeau’s efforts to protect the province from the consequences of a flirtation with independence.

Edward Johnson Executive assistant to Pierre Trudeau (1980-84); Montreal

Gone nuclear

Re The World Took Away The Wrong Lesson From The Tragedy Of Fukushima (Opinion, March 6): In the 2000s, the global nuclear industry hoped climate change would revive it from a two-decade decline triggered by Chernobyl. Its advertising was appealing: affordable and safe energy to fight climate change. However, the marketing was often stronger than the engineering.

Many reactor vendors were unable to meet cost targets and projects were abandoned. Fukushima accelerated this trend. Herein lies the real lesson we should learn from Japan: not public hysteria leading to nuclear decline, but a repeated inability to deliver safe and affordable reactors.

Luckily, we do have options to fight climate change. A decade after Fukushima, I see cleantech engineers doing what nuclear engineering has not: innovate and lower costs.

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Shawn-Patrick Stensil Program director, Greenpeace Canada; Toronto

Nuclear power plants are indeed expensive to construct, but they would deliver enormous quantities of electricity over a lifetime of many decades, so would be very economical in the long term.

Ontario Energy Board figures show that nuclear production costs 8.9 cents a kilowatt-hour, compared with 14.3 cents/kWh for natural gas and 14.8 cents/kWh for wind. Fortunately for Ontarians, nuclear is responsible for more than 50 per cent of the province’s electricity supply, while gas and wind each provide barely 10 per cent. And unlike other sources of electricity, the production costs for nuclear include payments to Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization for decommissioning and waste management when a plant is retired.

Jan Carr Former CEO, Ontario Power Authority; former vice-chair, Ontario Energy Board; Vancouver

Pandemic philosophy

Re Fighting The Pandemic Is Not All About Big Pharma And Their Vaccines, Mr. Gates (Report on Business, March 6): I think Bill Gates has analyzed the most effective strategy to affect infectious disease in the developing world, concluding that giving billions of dollars to governments has proved unsuccessful. Mr. Gates utilizes the ingenuity and productivity of private enterprise to save many of the disadvantaged on the planet. This approach may not be as philosophically pure, but I think the children who survive will understand Mr. Gates’s true intentions.

Philip McCabe Stratford, Ont.

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Backyard banter

Re Planning For The Future (Opinion, March 6): There should be a larger reckoning: Canada’s unshakable obsession with single-family home ownership. Making housing affordable allows people to put roots down in a neighbourhood. We should be viewing that new apartment on a street full of houses as a success, not just a stepping stone. We should have a range of housing, but archaic notions hold us back when it comes to better policy and development.

If our housing ideal remains a single-family dwelling, then empty parking lots will surely flourish.

Jeff Biggar Toronto

Some neighbourhoods dominated by single-family dwellings oppose density because of fears it will reduce house values. Instead of forcing their hand, why not offer a carrot? Cities could offer localized property tax reductions based on higher residential density to incentivize naysayers toward development. Follow the money!

Karlis Vasarais Toronto

Since the 1960s, home ownership rates have especially risen in inner-city neighbourhoods that have experienced gentrification. That is part of what fuelled the neighbourhood movement and reform politics of the 1970s, and which lies at the root of NIMBY opposition today. Middle-class homeowners do not want their yards to be shaded by multiunit buildings; even more, they don’t want their prime investments to be threatened. And they are the people who organize petitions, attend meetings and vote. In Toronto, the self-styled “city of neighbourhoods,” it’s a conundrum.

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Richard Harris Professor emeritus, McMaster University; Hamilton

For many people, infill development and increased density are not incompatible with neighbourhood character. On my Toronto street, people excavate basements, build laneway houses and add third floors to create rental units. Years-long avenue studies made policy allowing for nearby streetscapes to rise to five storeys with additional housing. A great compromise. But because of the often undemocratic might of the Ontario Municipal Board, we instead got 23-storey towers.

One local victory over a 29-storey proposal left an abandoned building to rot for years. Now comes the newest proposal for that site – much the same as the old one. Once again, the neighbourhood has to organize. Once again, the will of the people (and the city) can be overruled by a provincial bureaucrat. So, where is the middle ground to be found?

Douglas Rodger Toronto

Oil’s well

Re Hair Today (Letters, Feb. 19): A letter-writer suggested one could wash their hair every week, or even biweekly, so I took up the challenge. By not shampooing daily, only rinsing for two weeks, my natural oils came back into balance. Rather than looking greasy, people commented that my hair looked good. My scalp felt better, too.

Besides saving the environment with less shampoo usage, my showers were shortened by two minutes. This is the equivalent of running hot water for up to 12 hours a year. Think of the reduction in my carbon footprint!

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Steven Lawrence Calgary

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