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Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen at the U.S.-Canada border crossing, at the Thousand Islands Bridge in Lansdowne, Ont., on March 19, 2020.

Alex Filipe/Reuters

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Did WE need it?

Re WE Out (Letters, Sept. 11): A letter-writer asks of WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant: “Who else was there?” Perhaps a better question would be: “Why was this program necessary?”

Most students were already being supported through other pandemic programs, and there was already a program in place, Canada Summer Jobs, to assist students for paid employment. Charitable volunteering should never be promoted as paid work.

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Bernadine Morris Toronto

Norway to Alberta

Re Norway Fund To Ask Companies In Portfolio That Emit Most CO2 To Disclose Climate-Related Data (Report on Business, Sept. 4): The new direction of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund calls into question the view that Canada must have a much larger population in order to be successful and have influence in the world.

With a population of 5.4 million – about 1/7 that of Canada – Norway has the largest sovereign fund in the world at US$1.2-trillion. It is invested in 9,200 companies and has the standing to pressure several of them on their environmental record.

By contrast, Alberta, with a population almost as large as Norway, established its wealth fund 14 years earlier than Norway. But 45 years later it is evaluated at a mere $16.3-billion. And Canada has no sovereign wealth fund at all.

There are many differences between Norway and Alberta, but clearly, population size is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for economic success or influence in the international community. Well-conceived policies, consistently implemented, appear to be the more important factor.

Thomas Burch PhD, demographer; Victoria

Plastic perspective

Re Nestlé Using Recyclable Or Reusable Packaging For 87% Of Products, Company Reports (Report on Business, Sept. 8): It is important that people understand that recycling often refers to downcycling. Plastic can only be downcycled a couple of times before it ends up in landfill. Most plastic will end up in landfill eventually.

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It is hard to avoid plastic. If I can, I avoid all packaging or I choose alternatives such as cardboard, glass or tin. When looking at plastic packaging, I imagine having to keep the container in my backyard. This helps me reduce my plastic consumption.

Governments, manufacturers and retailers should do more. Go to the mall or grocery store and know that most plastic will end up in landfill, and maybe even in the food chain and drinking water – even bottled water.

Jan Vanderwal Toronto

Erosion reaction

Re Can The Submersion Of The Toronto Islands Be Stopped? (Online, Sept. 5): The answer to the question is yes. If authorities are willing to spend enough money to arrest ongoing erosion of the Toronto Islands, then that goal can be accomplished. But be careful what one wishes for. The question that ought to be asked: Should the submersion of the Toronto Islands be stopped?

The Islands are the product of long-standing and dynamic processes of erosion and deposition. At this time, in some places on the Islands, erosion is winning. But stopping erosion in one place could simply transfer the erosive energy, creating even bigger problems elsewhere.

In the end, the costs might well outweigh the benefits.

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Tom Johnston Lethbridge, Alta.

Heritage moment

Re Heritage Rules And Development Pressures Are Creating An Explosive Mix In Toronto (Sept. 4) Imagine my delight to find 33 Sherbourne St., a 1942 fur-storage warehouse, designated a heritage building.

In 2003, Mr. and Mrs. Choi had a picture-framing business on the second floor. That spring, I fled a big corporation for a startup – my own – and they gave me some space. This became the first home of Tattersall Sound and Picture. We bought desks, computers and headphones and began sound-editing on the film and television shows that were our business.

The floors creaked. The windows were grimy with the dirt of 60 years. That winter, when the wind blew off Lake Ontario, snow came through the cracked panes. After a year, we moved to bigger premises with heat, carpets and washrooms.

We grew, merged with a bigger company, changed our name. But Mr. and Mrs. Choi’s daughter Kathy still works with me. Her husband Peter Gibson is still my business partner. For us, the Chois and many others, 33 Sherbourne St. is part of our heritage.

Jane Tattersall Toronto

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Re Should The City Redevelop A Beloved Dive Bar? (Sept. 9): Notwithstanding the fact that Sneaky Dee’s is a popular bar with students and locals, if Toronto city council denies the application to redevelop this property, then it would amount to expropriation without compensation. It may be that the equitable owners require the proceeds of sale to fund their retirement, for example, or support a sick dependent.

In any event, if the city wants this property, then it should pay fair market compensation for it.

Fred Baker Toronto

Out of reach

Re So Close, Yet So Far (Sept. 9): Our family has owned property in Lake of Bays, Ont., since 1919. Six generations have enjoyed spending summers there. Since we live in the United States, we would welcome the opportunity to quarantine at our cottage.

We simply want to be permitted to cross the border and drive directly there. We are not tourists. I hope that U.S. citizens who own property in Canada may be able to enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving at their cottages, and the opportunity to “button down” their properties for the coming winter.

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Andrew Montgomery Eden Prairie, Minn.

Fall away

Re School May Be Back In, But Varsity Sports Are Still Out (Aug. 22): In the Toronto Telegram, Ted Reeve wrote about the 1930s: ″Yes there were a lot of happy days at Queen’s when the trees were turning gold and red against the background of the old stone buildings, the smell of burning leaves hung in the air, and the Galloping Gaels were whooping it up through practice at Richardson Stadium."

Or not! For the first time since 1882, excepting during the First and Second World Wars, the Gaels are not “whooping it up” because they’re not playing at all this fall, at Queen’s University or any place else. The Queen’s football team had compiled one of the longest continuous playing records in sports. That record is now broken and it is a sad thing; many of us miss the games dearly.

It is yet another marker indicating the serious circumstances in which we find ourselves. One is hopeful for next year.

Merv Daub Author, Gael Force: A History of Football at Queen’s; Kingston

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