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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, centre, gets a tour of Kensington Community School from principal Dan Fisher, left, to see the safety measures implemented for COVID-19, on Sept. 1, 2020.

Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press

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Leader and friend

Re Former PM John Turner Was Old Liberalism’s Darling And Its Final, Flawed Champion (Sept. 21): George Whyte and I were managing partners of McMillan Binch when John Turner returned to Bay Street in 1976. His former partners and I are indebted to John for his enduring leadership.

He was an outstanding partner, solidifying connections with major clients and establishing us as a leading law firm. He was generous of his time with younger partners and set a fine example of how we should carry on our practices.

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Over latter years, some partners from John’s era had meals with him at one of his favourite restaurants. Despite physical difficulties, John was always up for getting together and discussing weighty matters of the day.

We will miss him.

Peter Cathcart QC Toronto

John Turner thrived as a broadly experienced and uncommonly passionate canoeist. From before the age of 8 until after 80, he paddled, portaged and camped in the most majestic geographies of Canada.

A rainy day in 1994 found us canoeing down the lower Magnetawan River in Ontario. A gloomy day grew grimmer when John and I struck a rock, an alarming upset in the fast-flowing spring flood. We eventually struggled to shore, exhausted and dangerously chilled.

John had been uncharacteristically cavalier in securing his pack: All his belongings – clothing, sleeping bag, pocket books – were drenched. Yet he broke into his irrepressibly broad smile as he advised all of our nervous crew to always “keep your priorities straight!”

With that, he unbuckled his life vest, unzipped a rain jacket and retrieved an impeccably sealed plastic pouch. Inside were six perfectly dry Cuban Churchill cigars!

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Robert Caldwell Powassan, Ont.

Brace for it

Re Ontario Not Acting On Calls To Strengthen Long-term Care Measures (Sept. 21): Hospitals receive the most severe cases. At the height of a wave, they become prisoners of the virus, unable to provide other services. Life and death hang in the balance when an ICU bed diverts an essential surgery to the wait list.

No disrespect to Doug Ford, whose government finds itself in a logistical and ethical trap, but we knew this was coming. Once again, it will be difficult to save hospitals from paralysis.

Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.

Healthy thinking

Re McMaster Professor Embroiled In U.S. Controversy (Sept. 18): How to explain the actions of Paul Elias Alexander? I was a student and professor in health-research methods at McMaster University, heading it for seven years from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. The HRM program is life-changing for many students.

Those who enter the program usually do so with a sense of humility and skepticism of traditional opinion-based medical authority. Normally humble students transform into confident and competent critics and practitioners of science-informed medicine and health policy.

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Many graduates recognize a side effect of this training: a period of hubris about one’s capabilities; it is almost always short-lived as they mature and face real-world circumstances.

The only explanation I can reasonably, and generously, come up with for Dr. Alexander’s attitudes and actions is that he was operating during this brief period.

His statements to The Globe do suggest his sincere regret.

George Browman MD, CM, MSc, FRCPC Victoria

Civil response

Re It’s Time To Get Rid Of Civil Juries (Sept. 15): I believe it’s a myth that civil jury trials, because of the learning curve for jurors, take longer than judge-alone trials. Every judge reserves judgment after trial for weeks and often months before rendering a decision. A jury verdict is rendered immediately after deliberations are complete, typically a few hours to a couple of days after the evidence is in.

There is much to be done to improve the administration of civil justice in Ontario. Eliminating public participation, however, would be a regressive step.

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Dan Reisler Toronto

Proposing the abolition of civil jury trials would be akin to suggesting that we should abolish free and democratic elections simply because the pandemic creates new challenges and increases costs.

The right to trial by jury dates from Magna Carta in 1215 and 1792 in the province of Upper Canada. To abolish civil juries, especially when we continue to have constitutionally required criminal jury trials, makes no sense to me.

I speak for hundreds of trial counsel when I state that I have full confidence in our fellow citizens to perform civil jury duty admirably. A high settlement rate for pending jury trials, and the centuries-old tradition of citizen participation in judging fellow citizens, remain compelling reasons for preserving the civil jury system in Ontario.

Todd McCarthy Senior partner, Flaherty McCarthy; Whitby, Ont.

Another reason to get rid of civil juries is that their abolishment would free up judges, courtrooms, staff and funding to deal with criminal matters.

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The Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Jordan mandated trial in criminal matters within strict timelines, failing which the accused would go free. The problem for a cash-strapped provincial government is how to hold more criminal trials when infrastructure is already restricted.

Abolishing civil jury trials would allow courts to provide faster access to justice in both civil and criminal systems. The only party that appears to be resistant to such a win-win outcome is the insurance industry.

Andrew Suboch Toronto

Downward trajectory

Re Fossil Fuel Demand Has Likely Peaked, Energy Giant Says (Sept. 15): It’s noted that BP’s transition away from fossil fuels is part of the company’s plan to reinvent itself, and that its scenario-planning is driven by assumptions about how the world might meet its Paris commitments. But I believe the main reason peak oil is in the industry’s rearview mirror is a simple economic one: Renewable energy can power the economy more cheaply than fossil fuels.

Renewables will only become more competitive as costs continue to decline – a trajectory opposite to where oil and gas is headed.

As many experts have said in the past: “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”

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Chris Gates Quinte West, Ont.

When I’m with you

The Sisyphean task of Theresa Tam rolling the coronavirus up a hill is an awesome allusion to classical thinking (Editorial Cartoon, Sep. 21). I would also suggest some modern wisdom to help us with this burden.

In addition to washing hands, keeping distance and wearing masks, I think about The Weeknd song Can’t Feel My Face – if the virus can’t get in, it can’t attack.

Liz Murphy Toronto

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