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

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Lock and key

Re B.C. Premier Calls For National Clampdown On Non-essential Travel (Nov. 19): John Horgan’s call for restrictions on interprovincial travel seems like too little, too late.

Like many of my friends, I am in favour of mandatory masks in indoor public spaces; random checks by peace officers to make sure that people travelling between health regions are indeed travelling for essential or business reasons; a ban on indoor gatherings with people who do not live in the same residential unit.

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If this was implemented a month ago, we might have saved Christmas. Now it looks like we are all heading for lockdown.

Ritchie Leslie Vernon, B.C.

Many Canadians face months, if not another year, of isolation in their homes, all while restaurants, waterparks and stadiums fill up in Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and perhaps even Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Most other provincial leaders have failed to better protect residents from COVID-19.

I believe Justin Trudeau has the support and mandate to invoke the Emergencies Act to override provincial powers. He should enact restrictions for the health and safety of every Canadian so that, one day, we all will be able to return to attending public events.

Adam Bentley Edmonton

Re Ford Warns Of ‘Lockdown,’ Says New Measures Coming Friday (Nov. 19): While significantly outperformed by New Zealand in pandemic management, Australia arguably serves as a more realistic model for Canada. Like us, individual Australian states make decisions on lockdowns and other restrictions.

Australia did suffer a second wave while Canadians basked in the summer lull after our own first wave. But from that point on, our experiences radically diverged. The crucial difference is that Australia’s premiers acted decisively when circumstances required, and were not hamstrung by the business-first ideologies of too many of their Canadian counterparts.

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Australia’s per-capita rate of active COVID-19 infections exceeded that of Canada for less than seven weeks in the late summer, before being brought down by temporary measures. Our infection rates are now more than 25 times Australia’s, and the country’s last COVID-19 death was weeks ago.

Where is accountability for this obscene difference in outcomes?

Ron Hartling Kingston

Re Get Down (Letters, Nov. 19): A letter-writer seems to have misunderstood my comments about cottage owners, which was about the abridgment of freedom of movement with an Australia-style lockdown.

I would be interested in hearing his perspective after being locked down at home for more than 100 days during a cold, dark Toronto winter.

James Phillips Toronto

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Whose expense?

Re MPs Hiring In-laws Not ‘A Huge Issue’: Deputy Tory Leader (Nov. 19): I believe deputy Conservative leader Candice Bergen is right that hiring in-laws is financially no big deal. Perhaps overpaying them could cost $10,000 to $20,000, and poor performance would cost a bit more, but all in all not a great additional expense.

However, I believe Erin O’toole is right that it is a larger moral problem, and that morals and the appearance of equity is important. Everyone should have equal opportunities for jobs in the civil service. Hiring relatives is a major breach of that trust and should be dealt with appropriately.

Jonathan Usher Toronto

Land of the free

Re Free Lesson (Letters, Nov. 19): A letter-writer cites anti-maskers as an example of secular freedom – ”the freedom to” – in the United States. The original impetus of U.S. secularism was to establish the freedom to practise one’s religion, and freedom from censure of the state.

Puritans and Quakers, for example, came to North America to be free from discrimination. The idea of being free to practise one’s religion cycles back to John Locke’s original notion of tolerance – something that neither Quebec nor France seem to practise in applying laïcité.

Constance Dilley Toronto

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Elections, Canada

Re The U.S. Election Reminds Us Of How Fragile The Right To Vote Is (Nov. 17): In recounting his experience as an election observer in Sierra Leone, Peru and Ukraine, contributor Lloyd Axworthy writes that “in all three cases, a massive turnout of voters emerged to bring about democratic change.” After four years of media-handwringing over Donald Trump’s so-called threat to democratic norms, it appears that a massive turnout of U.S. voters emerged to bring about democratic change.

The turnout was so massive that it eclipsed the previous election by more than 20 million votes. Let’s give credit where credit is due: Donald Trump has made America’s democracy great again!

Dieter Neumann Kemble, Ont.

In Canada, our first-past-the-post democracy frequently results in a single party receiving barely 40 per cent of a vote, but winning a majority of seats. Electoral corruption, manipulation and confusion easily arise in democracies where too few voting alternatives are available, and when power becomes a primary factor in elections.

Democracy, from the Greek words for “people” and “rule,” is best served when a broader range of voter choice opens the possibility of more nuanced expression of a people’s legislative wants. Yes, more choice requires more complex co-operation and compromise, but it also stands a better chance of achieving legislation that more truly addresses voter wishes.

Edward Carson Toronto

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Canada could model non-partisan solutions to the world by using a citizens' assembly to figure out a made-in-Canada way of reforming how we elect parliamentarians. Let’s protect our democracy with the will of the people to enact electoral reform.

Sheri Oberman Winnipeg

Re Canada Sends Conflicting Messages On Tanzania’s Election (Nov. 17): With 98 per cent of Tanzanian parliamentary seats supposedly going to President John Magufuli’s party, how can anyone pretend this was a free and fair contest? Thus Canada’s call for “timely and transparent investigations” seems laughable.

Canada has a record of strong support for Tanzania since its independence; strong condemnation would have force, and it should probably be accompanied by a threat to terminate all aid except the strictly humanitarian sort.

Bob Seiler Pickering, Ont.

Dogged pursuit

Re Pet Project (Arts & Pursuits, Nov. 14): Although animal rescues have had a surge in pandemic adoptions, the same should not be said about bred dogs.

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A heartbreaking development among unethical breeders is that they are benefiting from the pandemic, and dogs are paying with their lives. Headlines around the world are screaming for an end to the import of young dogs from puppy mills.

Consumers buying puppies online should know their source, and they should care about the welfare of breeding dogs left behind. Their lives depend on our scrutiny and investigation.

Tracy Jessiman Halifax

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