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One reader is encouraged to see Canada's Ambassador to China Dominic Barton, seen here on Feb. 5, 2020, take a harder line on China.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Challenging China

Re Barton Takes Harder Line On China (May 13): It is encouraging to see Canada’s ambassador taking a harder line. Canada should no longer tolerate outbursts from Chinese officials, such as one from an editor of a state-run media outlet describing Australia as “chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes” (China Uses Pandemic To Assert Itself As A Global Superpower – May 1).

What is discouraging, however, is the reaction from the Canada-China Business Council. Remarks such as, “now is the best time to come over here,” hint at a high degree of blindness toward China’s bullying tactics. Canada should not have to do business with this kind of China. We should seek other markets until China changes its behaviour.

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Roger Emsley Tsawwassen, B.C.

Closer to the edge

Re A Democracy Can’t Thrive In Quarantine (Editorial, May 13): An all-party “war cabinet” would create more problems for our democratic system than it solves. If voters are unhappy with policies such a cabinet adopts, how should they respond in the next election? All parties, including the Liberals and Conservatives, would bear responsibility for these policies, so voters may look elsewhere to channel their unhappiness.

We see such a trend in Germany, where the two traditional leading parties have formed a coalition over the last half-decade. Unhappy voters have begun supporting extremist politicians, including a populist, anti-immigrant far-right party that has become the largest opposition party in the German parliament.

Our country is not on a war footing as Britain was 80 years ago. Once the Conservatives get a new leader, the next election will be following shortly. In the meantime, let the Official Opposition do what it has always done: Oppose.

Peter Love Toronto

Street sense

Re Why Main St. Doesn’t Feel Like Bay St. (Editorial, May 14): “The past is certain. The future’s a bet.” I believe that is half-correct. As any historian would say, past events are open to considerable interpretation.

For example, confirmed cases of Canadians with COVID-19 can be reported as fact. However, this masks the more significant fact that actual infections are only a guess, because millions of people haven’t been tested. Reported COVID-19 deaths could also be misleading, as we are not testing all the deceased during this pandemic.

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A hundred years from now, what will the record show about our past? Where’s the truth? Where’s the certainty? Lest I sound too negative, let me add that I do agree: “The future’s a bet.”

Ian McKercher Ottawa

The answer? The stock market is not the economy.

Bill Bousada Carleton Place, Ont.

How much and who?

Re Bonus Cheques (Letters, May 13): The government’s financial aid for seniors doesn’t even cover my extra expenses from March into April, and I anticipate staying in place for many months to come. Why does a high-risk senior demographic get only a token amount to get through a pandemic?

I’m proud of the Canadian government for supporting so many sectors, but seniors too should be recognized and supported adequately, not given a crumb with best thoughts to stay safe. I hope the government will reconsider.

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Janis Cole Toronto

I just completed my taxes. As a senior, my finances, once complicated, are now simple. The Canada Revenue Agency now knows everything about me. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the government doesn’t use CRA data to tailor its recent aid for seniors to those who really need it. I have been lucky in life; $300 will make no material difference to my family. I know it will for other seniors.

I get universality. It has been useful, laudable. But I have come to believe that absolute universality has outlived its usefulness. In this age of big data, targeted support programs are absolutely possible. In this case, I’d happily see my $300 go to those in greater need.

Tom Hopkins Toronto

Lesson plan

Re Province’s Back-to-school Plan Is Highly Troubling (May 12): Columnist André Picard is rightfully concerned with Quebec’s reopening of schools, as it seems to be based on a “let’s give it a go and see what happens” level of planning.

Contrasted with Europe’s more sensible approach, supported by widespread and continuous testing of returning students in concert with rigorous contact followup, our provincial leaders vary from Doug Ford’s “we don’t know what to do, so we won’t do anything,” to what amounts to François Legault rolling the dice.

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Government response seems to be primarily directed at economic support, with very little hope of recouping these monies in the future. There should be urgent investment to implement widespread rapid testing, in association with comprehensive contact tracing, in order to delineate and manage community spread and any successive waves of contagion.

Rick Inman Mississauga

I’m listening

Re Canada’s Health Committee Chair Has Given Conspiracy Theorists A Gift (Opinion, May 9): As a former MP, I commend Liberal MP Ron McKinnon for his willingness to present petitions on behalf of his constituents. The health committee of the former Conservative government did a study on wireless technology. I was one of the NDP MPs present at a meeting on April 28, 2015.

One of the witnesses, Riina Bray, medical director of the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, shared her experiences in caring for patients with hypersensitivities from chronically high levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields. MPs from all parties treated this topic very seriously. I believe that to lump cellphone towers together with various “conspiracy theories” shows a lack of respect for scientists and elected officials willing to tackle this issue.

Alex Atamanenko Castlegar, B.C.

Short-term guests

Re Renovating Harrington Lake Is Reasonable. Covering Up Plans Is Not (May 12): All of the properties – 24 Sussex, Stornoway, Harrington lake, Rideau Hall, Rideau Cottage – are not owned by the leader of the government of the day. They are owned by all Canadians. The prime minister, the leader of the opposition and even the governor-general are essentially Airbnb guests while they remain in office.

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It is appalling to me that some of these properties have been allowed to deteriorate because of fear that upkeep will be turned into a political football. I have visions of 24 Sussex being overrun by mice, raccoons and squirrels. Have Canadians no pride in their possession as owners? There should be no partisan political debate about the cost of the National Capital Commission properly caring for property that belongs to us.

Would Americans complain about repairs to the White House? Shame.

Agatha Platiel Burlington, Ont.

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