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In this file photo taken on Aug. 18, 2020, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on.

DAVE CHAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Endgame

Re Inmates Kept In Solitary Conditions Against Law (Oct. 28): Experts and activists were already skeptical that the 2019 “structured intervention units” would be anything more than solitary by another name. The results of the first analysis by professors Anthony Doob and Jane Sprott look even worse than a committed cynic could have predicted.

We should abolish solitary, the worst consequence of racial bias that can cause suicide, mental illness and self-harm. Many other reforms are needed in both federal and other prisons, as highlighted by reporter Tom Cardoso (Bias Behind Bars – Oct. 24), but ending this barbaric practice would be a fine start.

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How about all-party support for genuine reform instead of another study?

Lynn McDonald CM; co-founder, Campaign for the Abolition of Solitary Confinement; Toronto

Showdown

Re What, Exactly, Is A Non-confidence Vote? Parliament Should Get To Decide (Oct. 28): I don’t believe the evidence supports columnist Andrew Coyne’s argument. In Britain, the rule he advocates was directly responsible for last year’s Brexit logjam.

For months, British Parliament demonstrated a lack of confidence in Theresa May by repeatedly voting down core elements of her program. Yet because they never passed an explicit vote of non-confidence, her administration remained in place and unable to govern.

A key virtue of Canada’s parliamentary system is that a paralyzed government is easily replaced, rather than producing a U.S.-style shutdown. This shouldn’t be casually discarded.

David Arthur Cambridge, Ont.

On/off

Re The Health Minister, Of All People, Shouldn’t Be Caught Without A Mask (Oct. 28): I am fed up with over-the-top criticism levelled at the federal government. The opposition has been relentless in its pursuit of finding fault, instead of focusing on an economic recovery that will likely require extraordinary collaboration.

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To that end, I find columnist Robyn Urback’s attack on the Health Minister to be out of line. Who has not forgotten on any given day to don a mask? The people who are tasked with running government are also human beings.

Carol Victor Burlington, Ont.


Re Ontario PC MPP Faces Calls To Step Down From Education File Over Maskless Gathering (Oct. 28): Sam Oosterhoff should be apologizing for more than not wearing a mask for a photo opportunity.

No one in that photo was wearing a mask, and the restaurant confirmed that his group repeatedly ignored reminders to follow guidelines. This is exactly the kind of potential superspreader event that columnist André Picard references (It’s Time To Take Aim At Superspreader Events – Oct. 27). The rise in COVID-19 rates has more to do with people who attend these events or host large gatherings at home.

We should better enforce rules to support, rather than shut down, businesses that are trying to operate safely.

Katherine Sheridan Thornhill, Ont.

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Uprising

Re A New Global Treaty Bans Nuclear Weapons. But Why Didn’t Canada Sign? (Oct. 27): For all those who have marched for peace and protested nuclear weapons, it’s time to celebrate! The treaty is the result of years of collaboration between governments and civil society, especially the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Unfortunately, nuclear-weapon states and those that hide under the nuclear umbrella have not signed. Canada has not signed. We should rise again to expose the hypocrisy of governments claiming to be peace-loving yet refusing to sign a treaty that will make the world safer.

After we celebrate, we should get out our signs and march again.

Mary-Wynne Ashford Victoria

Groundswell

Re More Mergers In Oil Sector Expected After Cenovus, Husky Transaction (Report on Business, Oct. 26): Consolidation in the oil patch, triggered by foreign majors looking to dump high-carbon projects, should not be seen as an opportunity for Canadian producers, but rather as a sign that its days are numbered. The world is acting on climate change and oil is in the crosshairs; high-carbon oil, such as that produced in Canada, will be among the first to go.

In 2011, a panel appointed by then-Alberta premier Ed Stelmach argued that the province “must plan for the eventuality that oil sands production will almost certainly be displaced at some point in the future by lower-cost and/or lower-emission alternatives.” Sadly, government and the financial community seem not to have internalized this reality. Instead of facing facts, we continue to dig ourselves in even deeper, putting more communities, workers and provincial budgets in ever more precarious positions.

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Keith Brooks Programs director, Environmental Defence Canada; Toronto

Cheat sheet

Re Challenging Assumptions On Why Men Cheat (Oct. 27): I believe men (and women) cheat mostly because of poor character, selfishness and entitlement. Platitudes that insecure men cheat to remain married are patently incongruous to me.

Infidelity is often an aggressive stunt that results in divorce, permanently imploding a family, emotionally traumatizing children and incurring financial hardship for both spouses. Either talk out marital differences or get out of the marriage. I find affairs to be nasty pieces of cowardly duplicity, not awakening sexual liberations.

Teresa Flanagan London, Ont.

Trapdoor

Re I Feel As Trapped As My Husband Does (First Person, Oct. 26): As a caregiver for my husband, who also has vascular dementia, I cried when I read of essay-writer Glenda Bocknek’s frustration and exhausting role in taking care of her partner. We caregivers are constantly tired and deal on a regular basis with resentment, anger, guilt and tremendous loss.

Dementia often does not appear to others as an illness with a death sentence. Caregivers can be accused of exaggerating, complaining and not being compassionate enough. Friends and family may stop calling, offering help or even lending an understanding ear. Others don’t realize we are slowly losing partners we fell in love with. And, yes, COVID-19 has accelerated all the issues we already deal with.

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Thanks to Ms. Bocknek for introducing readers to our dilemma.

Judy Presant Thornhill, Ont.

Horseplay

Re New York Opens Subway System (Moment in Time, Oct. 27): “It took just 4½ years to build roughly 15 kilometres of tunnels and 28 stations … the engineering hurdles were enormous and the debris hauled out by mule cart.” In Toronto, construction of the Eglinton LRT has already taken nine years, and we continue counting down to an extended 2022 deadline.

Maybe we need to bring back mule carts.

Kope Inokai Toronto


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