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Vials of AstraZeneca vaccine against the COVID-19 are pictured in Huelva, Spain, on March 24, 2021.


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Wanted: vaccines

Re A New Threat To Canada’s Vaccine Plan (Editorial, March 25): I can’t begin to describe the frustration many of us will feel if vaccine shipments to Canada are blocked, further delaying a possible end point to this pandemic and a return to some kind of normal.

For most of the country, it’s been bad decision after bad decision: rejecting “COVID-zero” strategies, banking on vaccines without domestic production, entering a third wave while simultaneously loosening restrictions, and not to mention the tragedies in long-term care.

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Historian Yuval Noah Harari explained it well recently: This pandemic hasn’t been a scientific failure, but rather a political one.

Jeff Zuk Hamilton

One country, the United States, is sitting on a massive hoard of AstraZeneca vaccines. It has yet to be approved for use in the U.S., and is likely never to be used by the U.S. This could make a huge difference for global vaccination efforts in countries where the virus is out of control.

Why is the U.S. not held to account for this behaviour?

Stephen Godfrey Nepean, Ont.

Re AstraZeneca Is Manufacturing An Epic Failure Around Its COVID-19 Vaccine (March 25): While AstraZeneca’s public relations has been an unmitigated disaster, the solution should be for public-health authorities to step up and plug the vaccine’s virtues rather than throwing in the towel. If we want to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, it should be absolutely essential to keep AstraZeneca in the mix.

I find that my 60-to-75 cohort has not been put off in the slightest. A friend just passed on information about a local pharmacy taking AstraZeneca appointments, and five of us are now signed up to receive it. There was no vaccine hesitancy on our part.

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Adam Plackett Toronto

Re China Lashes Out Against Western Sanctions (March 24): Ooh, Canada is being so big and fierce against China. Sanctions and recalling our ambassador, that will fix them. Oh and by the way, kind sir, could we have some more vaccines?

Doug Hacking Sarnia, Ont.

Give back

Re Climate Conflict (Letters, March 23): There is a ready solution to ethical concerns over applying a border carbon tax to exports from developing countries: Simply return what is collected.

If Canada grants unilateral preferential tariff treatment to the exporting country (under the General Preferential Tariff for certain developing countries, for example, or the Least-Developed Country Tariff) it can return the funds as part of international development assistance, under the condition that it not be used as an export subsidy. This would encourage that country’s export industries to shift to lower carbon production.

It would also increase Canada’s level of international development assistance from its current, embarrassingly low level compared with many other developed countries.

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Andrew Vanderwal Toronto


Re Province Has No Clue How To Get To Fiscal Sustainability (March 25): Columnist Andrew Coyne suggests that increasing Ontario’s productivity will require, among other things, “deep cuts in tax rates.” Presumably this refers to corporate tax rates. So here we go again.

For years, Canadian companies have benefited from lower and lower tax rates in a race with the United States to the bottom, then failed to reinvest their profit and modernize. Trickle-down economics haven’t worked since Ronald Reagan first proposed it. All we seem to have as a result is more inequality and massive executive salaries.

Jon Allen Toronto

Near nuclear

Re Nuclear Regulator Overlooked Puzzling Inspection Data When Renewing Licence For Pickering Plant, Documents Show (March 23): Why was it necessary for the Pickering nuclear plant to continue operating beyond the expiry of its operating licence at all? Ontario has a surplus of electricity generation, particularly of the inflexible baseload-type produced by the plant, requiring it dump surplus power into neighbouring jurisdictions, often at negative prices.

The plant should have been closed and the process of decommissioning commenced. I see no case for it to continue, and even less for the Ford government’s proposal to extend its life beyond 2024.

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Mark Winfield Co-chair, Sustainable Energy Initiative, faculty of environmental and urban change, York University; Toronto

The electricity generated from the Pickering nuclear plant energized the Ontario economy. It also saved tens of thousands of people from breathing carcinogens from coal-fired power stations had they been built instead. We talk about the dangers of nuclear power, but it seems they were dangers in our own minds. I note not one death attributed to nuclear energy in Canada over a half-century of service.

The CANDU reactor design is an antique now. But the Canadians who conceived it, engineered it and built it out provided a heritage of “made in Canada” that should never be diminished. Ask South Korea, China, Romania or Argentina about Canadian know-how and they’ll likely talk about the CANDU.

Gregory Ast Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Re As Decades-long Search For Site To House Canada’s Nuclear Waste Nears An End, Communities Face Tough Decision (March 19): The transition to green energy will be a process, and hopefully we will eventually graduate from nuclear power. In the meantime, finding the safest way possible to deal with nuclear waste is essential.

I do not pretend to have the answers, but I do trust science and engineering. Until evidence is able to describe a better solution, I am willing to support a deep geological repository in my backyard rather than any other options presently on the table.

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(Please do not confuse me with the other Gordon Edwards, an anti-nuclear activist.)

Gordon Edwards Owen Sound, Ont.

I am convinced that deep geological repositories have become redundant with the advent of fast-spectrum small modular reactors that consume such “waste” and eliminate its million-year radiotoxicity. Such SMRs, sought by NB Power, are already supported by millions in federal government grants. Communities deciding on DGRs should instead ask for FS-SMR/fuel-recycling facilities. They would provide centuries of highly skilled jobs and copious amounts of non-carbon energy derived from the “waste,” while also detoxifying Canada’s used CANDU fuel within decades.

Peter Ottensmeyer Professor emeritus, University of Toronto

Choice words

Re Forces At ‘Inflection Point’ On Misconduct: Acting Chief (March 24): The Canadian Armed Forces seem broken, and the “inflection point” has long left the station.

Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, acting chief of the defence staff, said of sexual harassment training: “It’s going to be a constant drumbeat of reminding our members what right looks like.” Reminding? Whatever happened to orders and chain of command?

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Marty Cutler Toronto

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