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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 30, 2020.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Hard work

Re Alberta Meat Plant To Reopen Despite Outbreak (April 30): The COVID-19 outbreak at two beef-processing plants in southern Alberta highlights vulnerabilities faced by foreign migrant workers in Canada. It also reveals how much they contribute to the economy and society by doing jobs too few Canadians want. Despite this, they are neither protected nor given access to services and benefits available to Canadians affected by the pandemic.

Recently, Portugal took unprecedented steps to grant foreigners, including migrants, resident status and full access to health care and social services during the pandemic. Canada should do the same. In fact, Canada should go further and grant overseas workers permanent-resident status, as it did more than 50 years ago.

Granting residency to migrant workers would demonstrate genuine appreciation for their services, while creating a pathway to citizenship and eliminating the systemic barriers in Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs.

Connie Sorio Migrant justice co-ordinator, Toronto

Free country

Re When The Pandemic Ends, Will Our Freedoms Return? (Opinion, April 25): I don’t believe there is evidence that Canadians are willing to grant Ottawa new powers, “do away with” provincial standards or play down the power of Parliament, as contributor Philip Slayton charges.

In Canada’s political culture, governments usually modify their position when criticized, achieving compliance with new measures through trust and consensus, rather than coercion or force. So opposition parties and the media have acted as necessary correctives to any poorly conceived approaches.

In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill recognized that citizens are obliged to avoid injuring the rights of others. Asking citizens to protect others’ health in a pandemic is an ethical restriction on individual freedom. In an open, transparent society, we can debate when and how to limit freedom, but the principle of protecting others is inherent in the freedoms our society guarantees.

Carolyn Brown Ottawa

Freedoms ought not to be surrendered lightly. The Supreme Court has long held emergency powers must be temporary, for a rationally connected purpose and monitored by the courts and public. As Justice Jean Beetz said in 1976: “It is the duty of the courts to uphold the Constitution, not to seal its suspension.” This balancing act is imperfect, but it is not conducted naively.

This past year alone has demonstrated that Canadians possess a strong culture of protest and our justice system remains robust. Yes, let us guard our rights; but, at this time when we should band together, let us not surrender to hypothetical terrors as we fight against a clear and present threat.

Steven Ansley Vancouver

Set aside some level of civic nationalism and I find politics is mostly this: Get power and keep it.

Mel Simoneau Gatineau

The economy

Re We Must Reduce Regulatory Barriers For Economic Recovery (Report on Business, April 25): It seems ironic to call for less regulation when the government introduces a $1.7-billion program to clean up orphan wells. Did any company pledge to clean those up in the first place?

Then there are employers who had to be shamed into providing more safety measures for essential employees during a pandemic. Or long-term care facilities not living up to health and safety requirements. I will agree to lifting regulations as soon as I see a socially responsible economic sector. Sixty-five years old and still waiting.

Don McRae Ottawa

Re Broken Link (Opinion, April 25): I believe the case for local sourcing, production and workers being paid fair wages remains flimsy for most manufacturing, as does the case for the death of globalization. It flies in the face of post-Second World War capitalism, which raised the living standards of all nations involved, albeit with the benefits inequitably distributed. COVID-19 should not change that.

It’s suggested that Canada, with a small domestic market, can become more self-sufficient with hundreds of millions in investment. But with an experienced and highly skilled labour force, we could not even hang on to auto assembly within the North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), with all the advantages we had.

Solutions that emerge will likely be less radical and more nuanced. Global supply chains may become more resilient with more non-correlated suppliers and more varied inventories throughout the chain.

However, with items such as masks, gowns, antibiotics and vaccines, local manufacturing and national stockpiles may be a large part of the solution, along with thoughtful regulation and legislation.

Moody Talaat Thornhill, Ont.

Globalization was supposed to lay the golden egg. Well, the egg is not quite golden, but it has a bit of alloy. It is still pretty valuable. It would be unfortunate to kill the goose.

Baily Seshagiri Ottawa

Don’t do it

Re Time And Place (Letters, April 25): A letter writer from Vancouver, who rides his bike at 5 a.m. on the Stanley Park seawall, asks if he is committing a new social faux pas if there are few people out at that hour. My answer: Of course he is. And it could be more than a social misdeed. During the course of a ride, others could still be put in danger.

Physical distancing and restrictions on public gatherings apply to everyone. Just because one has done something “for years” should not justify continuing to do so when asked to refrain. If everyone claims an excuse for behaviour that defies government advice, we may never beat COVID-19.

Cynthia Rowden Toronto

Alone together

Re Gazing Outward, Looking Inward: What I’ve Learned About Solitude As A Lighthouse Keeper (Opinion, April 25): My father reminded me of French philosopher Blaise Pascal, who once said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I’m grateful for this time and solitude, forced or otherwise, to find opportunities to grow.

Vanshika Bansal Ottawa

Who is that?

Re What’s Behind The Mask? Who We Are (Opinion, April 25): Contributor Paul Gooch affirms the experience four of us had during a February holiday in Vietnam, where most people in public wore masks. We quickly adapted. Masks were a badge indicating that we were all together in this fight against COVID-19.

We did, however, struggle with one aspect of mask-wearing: They impeded communication. We were not adept at showing feelings primarily with our eyes. Our voices were sometimes muffled. Sunglasses occasionally fogged up. But worse, we had no facial cues. Was someone happy, sad, displeased, concerned?

Mr. Gooch concludes that one day we’ll see face to face. Back home, thankfully, non-medical masks have finally been recommended as one more measure individuals can take.

Mary Valentich Calgary

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:

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