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A pedestrians waits to cross Yonge St. while walking on Isabella St. in Toronto on Nov 19 2020.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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Check

Re Auditor Slams Ontario’s Pandemic Response (Nov. 26): Although I’ve found the Ford government’s COVID-19 response to be less than stellar, I tend to agree with the Premier’s main point: The Auditor-General should stick to determining the efficiency and effectiveness of implementation – not second-guessing the policy making function.

My own experience at the federal level demonstrated that auditors-general could not resist getting into debates about appropriate policy decisions, rather than their narrower, arguably more mundane, mandates. Case in point: For a multibillion-dollar, multiyear initiative that I led, I was challenged to demonstrate positive impacts within a few years. My response: The answer was worth a Nobel Prize in economic sciences a decade hence and, in any case, irrelevant to an auditor’s role.

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Andrei Sulzenko Ottawa


Doug Ford’s response to the damning report on the Ontario government’s pandemic response was as dismaying as it was predictable.

The bottom line is many of our political leaders have decided that, with the balancing acts in which they are engaged, the economy is all-important. That being so, political points are often what count most. Lockdowns are politically unpalatable; if lives are lost to the 2020 version of “the common good,” then that’s the price we have to pay as we wait for the silver bullet that will slay the COVID-19 dragon.

Ken Cuthbertson Kingston

Debunk it

Re Trudeau Fuels The ‘Great Reset’ Paranoia (Nov. 23): In his discussion of Justin Trudeau and the “Great Reset,” I think columnist Andrew Coyne has confused moonshine with snake oil. Moonshine actually achieves its stated purpose, while snake oil does not.

John Madill Oshawa, Ont.

Fix it

Re Children Falling Behind In Reading Owing To Shutdowns, Research Shows (Nov. 26): As a high-school English teacher for 26 years, I find the whole idea that students are “falling behind” problematic. Falling behind what? The arbitrary benchmarks that a majority of kids are already not able to achieve?

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Kids learn at different rates, sometimes as a result of socioeconomic factors, but also because we’re all different. That our education system has been built on the assumption that everyone should learn at the same rate can destroy a student’s self-esteem, limit their opportunities and, in a pandemic, adds unnecessarily to the stress that many of them are experiencing.

Maybe this pandemic will finally force us to look at some of the problematic foundations of how we organize education.

Jason Kunin Toronto


Re School’s Out (Letters, Nov. 22): A letter-writer believes that we should not close schools and extend Christmas break because “it should be imperative that we remain committed to stable, consistent education for our children.” I can only speak to what is happening in Ontario: The current education system is not only unstable, but also chaotic and wreaking havoc on the lives of students, teachers and their families.

Classes are equipped to go remote at any time; students could be learning from home for at least a week before and a week after Christmas in an attempt to lower COVID-19 numbers. A pandemic creates instability for children, therefore flattening the curve is what would best help them.

Tanya de Lima Mississauga

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Fund it

Re COVID-19 Overwhelms Italy’s Hospitals Again, This Time In The South, Too (Nov. 23): “Politicians cut the number of public beds, equipment and staff because so much of the financial resources went to the private system,” one Italian expert said. The current disaster in Italy should be a cautionary tale for governments in Canada.

Here is strong evidence that privatization would destroy public health care we can all count on – it would only be available to those who can afford it.

Kay and Ross Gould Calgary

Keep it

Re CPPIB Chief Suggests Cash-strapped Governments Sell Assets (Report on Business, Nov. 20): Canadian governments have already given far too many assets to private investors. Canadian National Railway, Ontario’s Hydro One, Manitoba Telecom Services: One-time cash receipts from privatizations forgo revenue for future generations of Canadians.

People with money to invest are the beneficiaries of capital gains and generous dividends. Brokerage firms profit from large fees. Those without the financial means are the losers.

More privatizations should not happen, even if the Canada Pension Plan stands to profit.

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Neil Tudiver Ottawa

Ban it

Re RCMP Union Opposes Ottawa’s Plan To Ban Assault-style Rifles (Nov. 24): It’s not just COVID-19: Another thing that Australia seems to have figured out better than Canada is firearms.

In the 18 years before Australia’s Port Arthur massacre, there were 13 mass shootings. In the 22 years after the passing of an assault weapons ban, there were zero such incidents.

It is astonishing to me that the RCMP union is opposing Canada’s legislation to ban assault rifles. Let’s look at the data and join countries such as Britain, Japan, the Netherlands and Australia that have stricter gun laws – and much safer citizenry.

Charles King Surrey, B.C.

Park it

Re Why Canadian Cities Are Rethinking Parking Policies (Nov. 21): It’s suggested that parking rules should be abolished for new business and residential developments, leaving “the market to determine the amount of regular parking.”

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During my 26 years of planning experience, zoning has been described as protecting one neighbour from another. Left to itself, “the market” would reduce or do away with parking, ending up with an unsafe free-for-all that would ruin some commercial developments and neighbourhoods. Cars are here for the foreseeable future, and parking will occur where it is easiest and cheapest, even in front of one’s home or business, day and night.

I have been to big cities and parking is not easy nor cheap. Perhaps parking can be reduced by bargaining away a percentage of it in exchange for easing other requirements to better suit a development.

Doing away with minimum regulations would lead to a bigger mess. Perhaps we should do away with speed limits and let “the market” decide one’s speed?

S. Boyd Anderson Former Moncton city councillor, chair of the planning committee

Checkmate

Re Queen’s Gambit Thrills Chess Purists With Attention To Detail (Nov. 25): Regarding cinema’s use of chess games, let’s not forget the seduction scene played out over a chess board by Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

Some critics have billed it “the longest kiss in screen history.” Based on personal experience, I guess!

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Sandy Blazier Mississauga


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