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People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they walk through a shopping district in Taipei, Taiwan, on Oct. 29, 2020.

Chiang Ying-ying/The Associated Press

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First contact

Re 10,000 Dead: How Did We Get Here? (Editorial, Oct. 29): It is reported that Taiwan, population about 24 million, last confirmed a locally transmitted COVID-19 case in April and, as of last week, recorded a total of 553 cases and only seven deaths.

Epidemiologist and former vice-president Chen Chien-jen said lockdowns are not ideal, and that mass-testing schemes in China are also unnecessary. “Very careful contact tracing, and very stringent quarantines of close contacts, are the best way to contain COVID-19,” he said.

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This is the same strategy also successfully applied in New Zealand.

Mike Priaro Calgary

On brand?

Re Current, Former CBC Employees Decry Branded-content Initiative (Oct. 30): So journalist Linden MacIntyre calls branded content tantamount to “deception.” That may be overstating it slightly, as long as it’s clearly marked, but then CBC’s Chuck Thompson comes back that the broadcaster has been publishing branded content “for years – not weeks, not months – years.”

Since I don’t recall ever seeing any, does that mean the deception is working?

Tom Sullivan Toronto

Freedom and democracy are fragile around the world. Even in countries with robust constitutions, where the separation of powers ensures a high degree of oversight, tyranny and autocracy lurk behind every corner.

Traditionally, the fourth estate has served as a bulwark against these dangers. In Canada, the CBC should champion a free and independent press. Instead we got CBC Tandem, a contraption that risks blurring the line between objective information and the interests of sponsors.

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Apparently, this initiative has been paused. I believe it should be killed.

Tony Manera Former president and CEO, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Ottawa

One word: No. This is just wrong. Okay, that’s more words.

Vicki Metcalfe Victoria

Urban climate

Re Why Cities Matter In A Climate Crisis (Editorial, Oct. 30): With COVID-19, attention and resources have, not surprisingly, been less focused on the climate. But the pandemic has spurred cities to roll out climate-positive initiatives – such as expanded bike lanes and bus priority lanes – that improve mobility, safety, well-being and economic activity.

COVID-19 has revealed deep inequities in food, housing, transportation and income support systems. If we learn nothing else from the pandemic, let’s hope we learn the importance of addressing these inequities so we are better prepared for future health and climate shocks.

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Cities can’t go it alone. But with the support of other levels of government, and with financial tools that cities have the power to implement, municipal leaders can advance win-win solutions – such as “15-minute neighbourhoods," better transit and active transportation infrastructure, job-rich building retrofits and regenerated green spaces – that can improve the lives of Canadians, today and tomorrow.

Michael Polanyi Climate campaigner, Toronto Environmental Alliance

Get free

Re (Limits Of) Free Speech (Letters, Oct. 30): Free speech is one size fits all – it shouldn’t be “custom-tailored" for each individual.

Catherine Orion Toronto

Shop around

Re Our Grocery Industry Needs A Code Of Conduct (Oct. 30): Rescinding the $2 pandemic increase in hourly wages for front-line workers; reinstating convenience fees for picking up groceries ordered online; seeking court injunctions against 1,400 striking workers in Newfoundland and Labrador; now increasing fees charged to suppliers. These are some of the actions taken by Loblaw over the last three months.

Loblaw posted a net profit of $1.13-billion in 2019. Even with the added cost of safety measures, the company is still doing well during the pandemic, in contrast to millions of Canadians who have seen their incomes diminished, lost their jobs or had to close businesses for good.

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As a long-standing client, I can no longer support a company that seems so tone deaf to the situation of most Canadians. I agree that government should review the conduct of the grocery industry.

Viviana Zothner-Cotic Toronto

Another backlog

Re Canada Can’t Afford To Shut Down Operating Rooms Again (Oct. 22): I am in my mid-seventies. In September, I was placed on an estimated 18-month wait-list for a hip replacement due to osteoarthritis. Since then, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has suspended “elective” surgeries again, and the wait-list grows longer.

Fifteen months ago, I walked nine kilometres on a mountain hike. Now I am in constant pain, on opioids and severely restricted in my mobility. But I am fortunate to be living with a supportive spouse and to have resources.

Assisted death is at the back of my mind, as I’m sure it is for others in similar situations. When surgical options are not available, it will be a tragedy if life becomes intolerable for arthritic patients.

Audrey Hall Saskatoon

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Breathing room

Re I Feel As Trapped As My Husband Does (First Person, Oct. 26): More than 500,000 Canadians live with Alzheimer’s or related forms of dementia, and that number is set to double in the next 11 years. For each one, there are families, caregivers and loved ones giving their time and energy, navigating countless challenges.

It’s critically important for everyone to understand the reality of caregivers – especially during these exceptional circumstances. Only then can people begin to appreciate how imperative it is to help mitigate these stressful situations for them and their families.

At Baycrest, we are focused on research and innovations to help people age in the setting of their choice. We also work closely with partners to expand our community outreach.

We should continue to hear the words of caregivers such as essay-writer Glenda Bocknek, and act on them. They need our support more than ever.

Josh Cooper President and CEO, Baycrest Foundation; Toronto

Nice ring to it

Re Remembering Don Mazankowski: A Deputy Prime Minister With Uncommon Leadership, Patience And Skill (Online, Oct. 28): In November, 1981, I was employed as a lowly public servant at Revenue Canada. One morning, I answered my phone. On the line was Donald Frank Mazankowski.

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A Notice of Ways and Means Motion from the Finance Minister had included an income tax amendment that adversely affected one of Mr. Mazankowski’s constituents. He was so concerned that he sought a grassroots answer for this person, rather than following bureaucratic protocol. It was not lost on me that most politicians would have an aide do this sort of task.

I gave him the best answer I could. Four hours later, he phoned back to thank me for my assistance. From that day on, no MP could hold a candle to Donald Frank Mazankowski.

Robert Day Ottawa

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