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In this file photo taken on June 25, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images

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Pandemic push

Re Ontario’s New Pandemic Plan Is Built To Fail (Editorial, Nov. 10) and B.C. Struggles Against Second Wave (Editorial, Nov. 11): I’d like to issue a challenge to all Canadians: Instead of being like sheep led by lost and confused shepherds, let’s take matters into our own hands and show that we can do the job of reducing COVID-19 cases ourselves.

Just because provincial rules allow us to do certain things – go to restaurants, have get-togethers, work out at the gym – doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do them. Just because the speed limit is 100 kilometres an hour on the highway doesn’t mean it’s always wise to drive at that speed (or higher) if conditions are such that it would be dangerous. One has to use judgment and adjust to conditions at hand.

So let’s use our judgment now: Stay home for the next four weeks except for essentials: groceries, medical appointments, outdoor exercise and school. We can do this ourselves.

Tuula Talvila Ottawa

I have worked as an on-call psychiatrist at my hospital for 30 years. This week easily breaks the record for the number of suicidal teenagers I was asked to assess in our emergency room. Lockdowns are having a very negative effect on our young population. Imagine my concern when I heard that more stringent lockdowns were on the way.

Many experts believe that the suffering and deaths caused by lockdowns will be far greater than those caused by COVID-19. Cancers are going undetected and not treated, substance abuse is on the rise, domestic violence is increasing, depression and suicide rates are alarming and people are suffering in silence at home.

Last week, an elderly patient in a retirement home requested medical assistance in dying. He told me that he would rather be dead than continue living in isolation. Closings, bankruptcies, unemployment, financial ruin and hopelessness will likely get worse in the year ahead. Rather than locking up entire healthy populations and destroying society as we know it, we should be primarily shielding and protecting the elderly and the vulnerable.

Mark Berber MD; Markham, Ont.

Re Ottawa’s New Commercial Rent Subsidy Hits Procedural Obstacle (Report on Business, Nov. 9) and Trudeau Urges Premiers Not To Relax COVID-19 Restrictions Amid Record Spikes Across Country (Nov. 10): Justin Trudeau said, “If you think something is missing in the support we’re offering your citizens, tell us. We will work with you.” Since premiers and mayors don’t seem to be doing this well enough, let me give it a try.

Since the pandemic began eight long months ago, the federal government has failed to effectively provide commercial rent relief that would help small businesses survive lockdowns and dramatic revenue losses. It took months to implement the first program, which I found deeply flawed because it relied on landlords to apply on behalf of tenants (the majority did not).

It then took until October to announce a new program where rent relief would go directly to small business owners. Yet now, as a second surge forces more business lockdowns, such legislation still hasn’t been passed, never mind implemented.

So is something missing that Mr. Trudeau might work on? Yes, I say: leadership.

Brian Bergman Calgary

Re In This Pandemic, Let’s Leave No Student Behind (Nov. 9): As COVID-19 numbers trend upward, this should not be the time to ramp up anxiety over students falling behind in learning outcomes. Early evidence, suggesting that learning loss related to the pandemic is “a very big problem,” ignores the fact that loss of life is an even bigger problem. Devaluing renewed emphasis on social-emotional support for students and educators seems heartless.

While there likely will be some learning loss relative to the findings of previous years, a plan to address the implications should hardly be the priority of the day. Research can only tell us what might happen. We don’t yet know what the long haul will look like.

If we can maintain some measure of mental health, I’m confident that we’ll be able to address those challenges in the future.

Rhea Pretsell Belleville, Ont.

Trumped up

Re There’s No Limit To What Trump Might Do (Nov. 11): A wonderful outcome to a Donald Trump electoral legal challenge could be that any lawsuit that proceeds would end up beautifully verifying just how remarkably little “fraud,” error or malfeasance actually occurred in the casting of about 150 million votes.

In recent decades, we’ve seen Canadian dramatic alarum and purported anti-fraud “prove-who-you-are” measures that were probably unnecessary additions to our voting processes, and contrary to the historical Canadian voting experience of essentially no elector fraud. These are politically noisy solutions in search of a problem, as has been said.

As citizens – Canadian and American – we mainly trust each other in these matters, and are right to do so, even if those bent on voter suppression or political fear-mongering claim we should not.

Shea Hoffmitz Hamilton

By definition

Re The Pandemic Is Pushing India’s Low-caste Girls Into The Sex Trade At Younger And Younger Ages (Online, Nov. 5): I believe there is no such thing as “child sex workers” – rather, children are trafficked, raped and abused. While the tragic circumstances of these Indian girls are captured in their own words, along with the trend of male buyers demanding “younger and younger” girls made clear, I find that liberal euphemisms for one of the worst forms of child abuse obscures reality.

We should resist language that confuses our collective responsibility to protect children.

Helesia Luke Vancouver

Prose, nouns

Re Thammavongsa Wins Giller Prize For How To Pronounce Knife (Nov. 10): After reading of Souvankham Thammavongsa’s literary win, I could not get the following poem out of my mind.

I learned it through Canadian Parents for French in the 1990s as we watched families struggle with helping children learn the language. As far as French, Spanish, German and Italian go, what one hears is what one gets. English is a hodgepodge of languages and spellings, often frightening to learn as an adult.

Here is an excerpt from what is most often attributed to T. S. Watt: "Beware of heard, a dreadful word / that looks like beard and sounds like bird. / And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead. / For goodness sake, don’t call it deed! ... Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start. / A dreadful language? Man alive / I mastered it when I was five.

Peggy Hutchison Singhampton, Ont.

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