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One reader writes that Alberta – Premier Jason Kenney, seen here on Feb. 26, 2020 – 'seems locked in the past, with neither care nor vision for the future.'

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

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Alberta advantage?

Re An Alberta Budget Still Betting On Oil (Editorial, March 5): Just think of what could happen if the Alberta government lived in the 21st century and had a sales tax. And with the province’s copious amounts of sun and wind, along with much expertise gained in developing oil sands, it could be a global leader in addressing the climate crisis with renewable energy.

Instead, Alberta seems locked in the past, with neither care nor vision for the future. Instead of pulling people and resources together, I see a government that divides and attacks – and the most vulnerable, including the land, are paying the price.

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Bill Phipps Calgary


It seems misleading to say that if Alberta had a sales tax, all its problems would go away.

Let’s say Alberta did have a tax, like Ontario does. By that logic, shouldn’t Ontario should be running massive surpluses every year? Perhaps the problem is not the tax, but the politicians.

Mark Knowles Toronto

Vanier legacy?

Re To Plague A Saint (Opinion, Feb. 29): L’Arche’s disclosure of Jean Vanier’s alleged misconduct left me with a feeling of “here we go again.”

Contributor Madeline Burghardt’s article reminded me of a powerful talk given at York University in 2009 by Marilyn Dolmage, who would go on to spearhead the 2013 class-action proceeding against the Huronia Regional Centre. In discussing the traumatic childhood institutionalization of her late brother, who had an intellectual disability, she also spoke of her mother’s profound sorrow. The reality is that many women were deeply grieved by societal requirements that they relinquish their children to such an institution.

In Nic Clarke’s 2004 journal article Sacred Daemons, he notes that, historically, mothers in Canada have, under duress, consented to the institutionalization of their children with intellectual disabilities. That consent was often manufactured. As such, it too should form part of the larger story of what women – be they residents, or those who support them – experience in relation to institutional care and diverse forms of coercion that hurt them.

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In L’Arche’s disclosure, I appreciate that the organization did not discredit the women who came forward. The approach of getting out in front of alleged non-consensual, damaging and cruel conduct acted-out under the aegis of “care” – spiritual or otherwise – is a major step out of the murk.

Sheila Jennings Former family lawyer; Ontario lead, Moms Stop The Harm; Toronto

Re On Jean Vanier (Letters, March 3): A letter-writer remembers that, while working at L’Arche, he “communed with adults who suffered from intellectual disabilities.”

Words are important; people are defined by them. Individuals with intellectual disabilities should not be described as “suffering” – they are “living with” an inherent condition. This understanding is one of the legacies of Jean Vanier we should remember.

Lucinda Hage Peterborough

Historical precedent

Re Wet’suwet’en Chiefs, Blockades And Coastal GasLink: A Guide To The Dispute Over A B.C. Pipeline (Online, March 5): I am another non-Indigenous Canadian, Chinese-Canadian to be precise, who has received much education in the past few weeks on the struggles between the hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en and the Canadian government over pipeline-building across their land. I now find that the Indian Act of 1876 is incompatible with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988. As with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, which was repealed in 1947, the Indian Act seems overdue for repeal.

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I read as false the argument that building pipelines can help lift the poverty of Indigenous people; centuries of racism and colonialism have caused it, not a lack of pipelines.

Jia Tsu Thompson Vancouver

Believe it or not

Re Chinese Envoy Accuses West Of ‘Fake News’ (March 5): Perhaps the Chinese ambassador to Canada is simply saying what he has been told to say. Or does he really believe that Canadians are sufficiently uninformed as to believe what he says about the Uyghurs? Neither are appealing explanations for his recent statement.

Richard Harris Hamilton

Virus responses

Re How Hospitals Are Staying Ahead Of Public Health Officials On Virus and Experts Criticize Ontario Virus Policy (March 4): The efforts of North York General Hospital to identify potential COVID-19 patients, while keeping staff safe, illustrate how to do things right. Chief executive Joshua Tepper assures that all reasonable precautions are being taken, and that staff are trained, equipped, and have practised donning and doffing equipment.

By contrast, those calling for less protection for health-care workers are many of the same people taken to task during the SARS inquiry, in which nurses’ warnings about protective equipment were dismissed. Subsequently, dozens of registered nurses were infected during the 2003 SARS crisis and two of them died.

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Do we really want to take a chance with less protection for health-care workers, and possibly worsen the spread and sicken more people? Because of SARS, Ontario has policies in place to keep workers safe. Let’s not repeat history, no matter what some experts say.

Vicki McKenna RN, president, Ontario Nurses’ Association; Toronto


Re Virus Shows Globalization Needs A Rethink (Report on Business, March 4): I think the real economic problem lies with the relentless desire of consumers to get more for less. My daughter, in her early 20s, is fully tuned to the ability of the internet to secure every last ounce of benefit from her modest purchasing plans. She will go to all lengths to exploit every special deal, time-sensitive buying opportunity, rewards program, free-delivery option and temporary supply disruption to save a buck.

This universal drive for cost-cutting is aided by the technological vehicles of globalization. The consumer is king, the producer be damned. That producers also need to consume is an unfortunate complication, conveniently out of sight, in far-off countries we do not care to visit unless it harbours a five-star, all-inclusive holiday resort.

Boudewyn van Oort Victoria


Re Freeland Calls For ‘Whole Of Country’ Virus Response (March 5): In 2003, Ontario gave me a large box of supplies, mostly masks and gowns, to fight SARS. I didn’t need it, but I kept it in my office for the next inevitable viral pandemic. It may be here now, 17 years later. I hope the box remains unused.

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Robert Heyding MD, Leaside Health Centre; Toronto


The poet John Boyle O’Reilly wrote: “Our feet on the torrent’s brink/Our eyes on the cloud afar/We fear the things we think/Instead of the things that are.”

Enough said?

Mike Firth Toronto


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