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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer rises to question the government during Question Period in the House of Commons on May 26, 2020 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Just the essentials

Re Parliament Debates Abandoning Full Functions To Sept. 21 (May 26): Isn’t government an essential service? Why are they not doing their jobs? Why are they less important than low-paid caregivers or truck drivers who deliver groceries and pharmaceuticals?

If our representatives are not allowed to represent us in Parliament, what country is Canada? Are we not a democracy?

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Sylvia Makk-Lainevool Richmond Hill, Ont.

PM dawn?

Re Conservatives: Not Quite The Walking Dead (Editorial, May 23): Even before the last election, I’ve seen the Conservatives offer nothing relevant to the transition times in which we live. All while most sectors of society are pushing new ideas and visions for our future.

I neither see nor hear anything worth thinking about from “the walking dead.” Too bad, as we need all the imagination that we can muster.

Bill Phipps Calgary

The Globe and Mail’s editorial reminds readers of an important point: Justin Trudeau was once seen as an ill-considered “placeholder” choice as leader for the “out-in-the-cold” Liberals, in much the same way the struggling Conservative Leader is seen during his party’s current time of trial.

There is one more fundamental point: A good leader is usually one who exceeds expectations, as many would agree the Prime Minister has done. Equating him with a leader (and to leadership candidates) who have fallen below even “placeholder” expectations doesn’t make much sense to me.

Peter Feniak Toronto

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Inside story

Re Systemic Failings Fuelled Care-home Outbreak (May 26): I have read a lot of negative stories regarding long-term care in Canada. However, I have no complaints regarding my stay at a for-profit facility.

I have lived here almost three years. The place is very clean, the air is always fresh. The food is good, the staff is helpful, friendly. We can participate in all kinds of sports and cultural activities, and the company hires outside people for entertainment. During the summer, we have barbecues and also attend events outside the facility.

Residents meet monthly with management. The atmosphere is positive and issues are minor. The rates are reasonable: just more than $1,500 a month for a two-person room and just less than $2,500 to live alone. It’s sad, but true, that the majority of residents hardly receive visitors.

I see no reason at all to switch our facility to a federal or provincial agency, unless government promises to serve pepper steak, rack of lamb, ahi tuna, halibut, smoked salmon and foie gras every week.

Keith Keers Mount Royal Care Centre, Calgary

Re Province Updates, Clarifies Visiting Guidelines For Long-term Care Homes (May 22): I work in a long-term care home that has had no COVID-19 cases, yet. We allow no visitors except for palliative residents, and even then with restrictions.

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We recently started distanced open-window visits. These have not been trouble-free. To allow one visitor for each family would bring 100 new people. How do we limit who comes? How do we monitor distancing?

I have not seen my parents nor my newly born granddaughter since this started. It is not easy for anyone. I have worked at the same home for eight years. The residents are valuable. We should remain patient, maintain visiting restrictions and keep them safe.

Karl Madsgaard Belleville, Ont.

Let’s get digital, Part 3

Re Let’s Admit It: Online Education Is A Pale Shadow Of The Real Thing (May 21): While contributor Mark Kingwell makes good points about the quality of learning in the classroom, I believe he takes too broad a brushstroke to the so-called deficits of online learning. Having taught online at Western University for almost 10 years in writing and journalism courses, and as long ago as 1994, I can say with confidence that this kind of learning does indeed meet many students’ needs.

Feedback over the years has often included students who were initially concerned about online learning, but ultimately find the course interesting, enjoyable and educational. Where online really shines is the virtual discussions that take place asynchronously. Students often post more reflective views when given more than a few seconds to respond, as they would in a classroom.

I’m not saying that online learning is better or even as efficient as the classroom version, but for that shy student who never raises his or her hand, or the one who benefits from having more time to think, it can be a pedagogically satisfying alternative.

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Mark Kearney Lecturer, Western University; London, Ont.

I would have more sympathy with contributor Mark Kingwell’s lament for the unique physical experience of university if his lament were representative of more than a select few.

Perhaps his program has low enrolment and therefore class sizes that are conducive to a more personal learning environment. But this is far from the experience of the majority of students. They have been herded into increasingly larger classes of hundreds if not thousands. They have, usually unknowingly, been taught by increasing numbers of itinerant faculty, not tenured ones like Dr. Kingwell, over the past three decades. Tuition and fees continue to increase despite these more salient changes.

Online learning or hybridization is just a further slide along this downward slope. I would not be concerned as much as Dr. Kingwell for some halcyon days that are long past, if they ever existed. I would encourage him and his colleagues to do the best they can to deliver material that students are paying for, and recognize that their own actions may have contributed as much to such hybridization (and money-saving) as COVID-19, if not more.

Bob Goldman Toronto

Love to pieces

Re Piece Of Mind (First Person, May 20): I spent last week with my 10-year-old granddaughter and we did two jigsaw puzzles that were very difficult. She was determined to get the border done and then work from there.

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Not only did it require skill, but also patience and overcoming a bit of frustration. ‎It is rewarding and good for the mind, a sort of therapy for people who have problems with nimble hands.

As soon as we finished the first one, we put it back in the box and emptied the second one. ‎We had fun. Far from trivial!

Mary Smith Guelph, Ont.

Help wanted

Re Space Invaders (Letters, May 26): For those thousands of stir-crazy urbanites who fled to the park to hang with friends: If they’re looking for something to do, consider taking over child care, teaching and work responsibilities for parents who are sitting at home and waiting for this nightmare to end.

Kristen Morin Toronto

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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