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A pedestrian wearing a mask walks down the empty streets of downtown Edmonton as people stay in to protect against getting the COVID-19 virus, in Edmonton on March 22, 2020.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

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Welcome back

Re Last Week Was Another Country (Opinion, March 21): In what I believe is her first article in The Globe in months, Margaret Wente takes a dark view of the COVID-19 crisis and our response so far. While I agree that we are facing a crisis unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes, I find some of her comments about our leadership to be harsh and unfair.

She writes: “If you think our leaders know what they are doing, you’d be mistaken. They’re making it up as they go along.” While this may apply to many of the comments coming from the President of the United States, I don’t think it can be said of leadership in Canada. The messaging of our public-health officers is informed by science and has felt largely consistent. I would say the same of the Prime Minister and his cabinet, as well as provincial premiers. I think our leaders are doing their best given the circumstances.

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I believe the biggest challenge is the failure of a segment of society to follow the direction of our leaders, especially in regard to the clear and repeated guideline to adhere to social distancing. With her comments, I find that Ms. Wente undermines their credibility and gives licence to those in our communities who refuse to do their part to flatten the curve.

Peter Gibson Mono, Ont.

Re The Politics Of Pandemics Is Grim News For Federal Conservatives (March 20): Having listened to the Prime Minister’s news conferences on COVID-19 over the past few days, I can’t imagine how anyone in that office could provide the leadership that Canadians need in times like this without being able to communicate effectively in both official languages.

Conservative leadership candidates should take note.

Steve Kennett Calgary

The trolley problem

Re The Moral Choice Canadian Doctors May Face: Who Lives, Who Dies (March 20): As an ICU physician, I may be placed in a position of deciding which COVID-19 patients do or do not get a chance at life by being placed on a ventilator. Given that chilling prospect, what am I also to do with the significant number of patients already occupying ventilators with poor chances of survival? An ICU physician in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina made tough choices and was dragged through the courts for years afterward.

Arthur Vanek MD, Toronto

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Would the right moral choice be to take a ventilator from a 70-year-old who wants to live, who needs it to recover from COVID-19, and give it to someone whom the attending doctor deems more suitable? I don’t think so.

What if the 70-year-old is otherwise healthy, and could live a long and happy life for another 20 or 30 years? What if the younger patient has other health issues, such as a family history of diabetes, and may not live a long and healthy life anyway? Ageism is now frowned upon in most segments of society. Is it right that the elderly could be treated like second-class citizens in a hospital?

Gary Mason concludes that it is not unusual that doctors have to play god in the course of their work. They shouldn’t have to. Surely the first person who gets the ventilator should get to keep it, if it’s helping them? Who wants a doctor approaching their bed to pull the plug? That sounds like a horror movie to me.

Cassandra King Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Curve flattened?

Re In Wuhan, New Coronavirus Cases Dry Up, And A Locked-down City Has Thoughts Of Freedom (March 19): Good news out of Wuhan suggests a timeline for COVID-19 to run its course. It may be not much more than a few months if we continue the practice of reducing exposure to infection by staying home.

Ross Gould Calgary

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Come from away

Re Closing Of Borders Could Be The Most Lasting Harm From This Pandemic (March 19): Columnist John Ibbitson usefully cautions of peril that may emerge as the COVID-19 crisis subsides, namely stiff opposition to reopening borders, yet he then launches a defence of globalization. I believe the focus on globalization points to a real and pervasive aspect of contemporary development, that it has not yet mobilized the political momentum to sustain an agenda able to tackle the many issues unresolved well before the first cases of COVID-19 hit the gurneys: climate change, grinding poverty, land claims, social inequity and oppression.

The way forward, at such time as collective action overcomes COVID-19, would be to show that the economic strategies employed against it – extending credit, dropping penalties, deferring payments, relaxing tax deadlines, for example – depend on breaking institutional and market rationalities, ones that have been fundamental to the maintenance of globalization. The crisis opens possibilities for future action in ways that seemed unthinkable over the winter.

Ian Skelton Toronto

Columnist John Ibbitson expresses fear that globalization may be impaired or even halted. I happen to be one of those who sees this as a good thing. Extended international supply chains and intertwined economies have left us vulnerable, not only to pandemics like what is happening now, but also to terrorist and hacker attacks. The globalized economy seems very much at risk.

Would it not be better to be more self-reliant, even at the cost of a slightly reduced standard of living? Can we not eat turnips in January, rather than oranges? Canada has immense resources. With proper planning, the country could be much less dependent on the rest of the world. This would not mean moving to a state of autarky, but rather just managing our trade more so that we are less of a vassal state.

David Pearce Victoria

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I agree with columnist John Ibbitson that to replace the free flow of goods, people and ideas with beggar-thy-neighbour barriers would be a global tragedy. He reminds us of what globalization has accomplished in terms of benefiting mankind, and what it should mean to be a Canadian citizen. We have always been open to the world, and we should remember that after this pandemic passes.

Let’s make sure that we keep Canada great.

Geneviève Leclercq Kanata, Ont.

Fire starter

Re Faster, Higher, Stronger. But Also Later (Editorial, March 20) and IOC’s Stubbornness Just Shows The Organization Cares More About Money Than Athletes (Sports, March 20): The Globe’s editorial board and columnist Cathal Kelly are far from alone in accusing the International Olympic Committee of caring more about money than the welfare of athletes. The Olympic flame has been lit. Pity no one seems able to light a fire under the IOC.

Steve Soloman Toronto

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