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People wear face masks as they walk in a park in Montreal, Sunday, November 15, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Home and away

Re How An Australian State Beat Back Its Second Wave (Nov. 14): Here in British Columbia, out-of-province and U.S. licence plates are not an uncommon sight. Where is our version of Melbourne’s “ring of steel”? Where are on-the-spot fines for not wearing a mask? It’s no wonder to me that Australia’s COVID-19 deaths are about 1/10th of ours, even allowing for population difference.

Bonnie Henry’s gentle approach seemed appropriate and successful at the beginning, but now sterner measures are required. Fears of economic damage, while justified, seem irrelevant. As numbers soar, where will the economy be if consumers are terrified to leave home?

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And a note for John Horgan: Victoria’s Premier saw an approval rating of roughly 70 per cent as the Australian state recorded 14 days with no new cases.

Colin Lowe Nanaimo, B.C.


Re Passing The Buck Only Feeds The Virus (Editorial, Nov. 13): Doug Ford and other politicians should realize that dead people are poor customers.

G. Wayne Brown Nanaimo, B.C.


One of the biggest challenges for controlling COVID-19 spread is the length of time between action and results.

Projections at the end of September predicted that new infections would rise to 1,000 cases per day by mid-October, but Doug Ford said he would wait and see. By mid-October, infection rates were up, as predicted, and have continued to rise ever since.

Mr. Ford’s concerns for the economy and people’s mental health are understandable, but the wait-and-see approach seems only to prolong agony. Now that infections have reached deeper into communities where contact tracing is more difficult, I believe nothing short of a complete lockdown will bring things under control again.

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Actions under Ontario’s new colour-coded system will likely be too late, because it is based on current infection rates at any given time, not on the projections of epidemiologists.

Safwat Zaky Toronto

Free to…

Re Unfettered Freedom Is Creating Tragedy (Nov. 16): “Give me liberty, or give me death!” is attributed to U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry. I believe that freedom-loving people have the right to choose their own deaths, rather than wear masks, but not the right to cause serious illness or death to others.

Masks should be considered ethically different from seat belts or motorcycle helmets because there are implications for the lives of others.

Bruce Couchman Ottawa


Contributor Erna Paris juxtaposes former baseball player Aubrey Huff’s statement, that he would “rather die from the coronavirus than wear a damn mask,” with the fatal shooting of a store security guard who insisted that a child wear a mask. Of course it is illegal and reprehensible to kill someone. But Ms. Paris seems to argue that Mr. Huff’s opinion should be banned because it may lead to illegal actions.

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In his classic defense of liberty from 1859, John Stuart Mill wrote that government may not ban speech even if it is false, because such action would prevent those who hold the true view from even knowing their own position. And in 1927, then-U.S. justice Louis Brandeis said that in the face of wretched speech, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

I find this to be timeless wisdom, not “dangerously anachronistic.”

John Isbister Toronto


The Second World War universally changed our view of society. We know now that social evil, as seen in Germany at the time, has deep roots. Our soldiers fought it on the battlefield; Charlie Hebdo fights it with a pen in France today.

French freedom of speech is peculiar to the country, and it includes sarcasm. Hypocrites may not like a caricaturist’s drawings of themselves, or of us, but no one should be excluded from the pen.

A. C. Parker Guelph, Ont.

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Contributor Erna Paris’s diagnosis of the twin problems plaguing French society, that of rigid secularism and absolutist views on free speech, hits the mark in many ways. However, the expanding controls in France on what is permissible to wear suggest that such dogmatic views on freedom of expression are disingenuous. After all, French society has put equal energy into stripping Muslim women of the freedom to wear what they choose as they have into defending speech that many find Islamophobic.

Unless certain types of expression are more ardently defended than others, these parallel realities point to intolerance being the real issue at play.

Daniel Ribi Ottawa

Wild side

Re Rethink Mink: Denmark’s Virus Outbreak Linked To Fur Farms Should Worry Canadians (Nov. 16): Contributor Jessica Scott-Reid’s perspective on Canadian subsidies for fur-farming, especially in the age of zoonotic spread of coronaviruses, seems spot-on.

From a live-animal market in Wuhan, to meat-packing plants in Alberta, to mink farms in Denmark and elsewhere, when will we get that close confinement, unsanitary conditions, mass slaughter and exploitation of animal bodies can be not only inhumane and environmentally unfriendly, but also dangerous to human health?

Somehow, previous outbreaks such as SARS and swine and avian flu didn’t get the message across. Let’s hope COVID-19 does, at long last.

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Erika Ritter Toronto

Rough waters

Re CPPIB And Partner Double Down On Cruise Industry (Report on Business, Nov. 11): I see our Canada Pension Plan Investment Board gurus are once again “betting” on speculative rewards. This investment has already lost out on an initial US$500-million from 2016. U.S.-based Viking Cruises has debt of US$2.425-billion amid COVID-19, yet apparently some billionaires and the CPPIB assume the super-rich will once again cram into these luxurious floating high-rise apartments.

The CPPIB has also been invested in the arms trade and a now-bankrupt U.S. luxury chain. Are we to expect financing for a casino next? Is there not a percentage of CPP funds that must be invested in Canada? Does the CPPIB pay U.S. taxes on U.S. gains? Are there no investment opportunities in Canada, specifically in the green recovery so many hope for?

Mary Dixon Winnipeg

Lead the way

Re Man Presses B.C. To Recognize Its Long, Vibrant Black History (Nov. 12): Kudos to Markiel Simpson. He didn’t just give the “standard talk” to explain anti-Black racism to his sister and instead took action so that Black history will be included in the B.C. education system.

Yes, the Black community should know more about the important part they’ve played in building British Columbia and the rest of Canada. Schools should name and discuss role models such as William Allen Jones, John Sullivan Deas, Harry Jerome, James Douglas and others.

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Hopefully Black Canadians will begin to feel they are an integral part of our great country.

Janet Sherman Toronto


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