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President Donald Trump pulls off his protective face mask as he poses atop the Truman Balcony of the White House after returning from being hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center, October 5, 2020.

Erin Scott/Reuters

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COVID challenges

Re Seven Months Into The Pandemic, Testing In Ontario Is A Fiasco (Oct. 7): I reflect on the public vs. private health care debate every time I return to Toronto along Highway 401, and traffic inevitably slows. As signs appear advising of a toll road, the usual flock of BMWs and Mercedes head in that direction.

Do I resent them? A little. But traffic lightens up as the jet set leaves for their privatized route. Their willingness to cover their costs reduces my travel time and frustration, and I thank them.

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I believe the same is true of health care. If the elites want to step out of the queue and arrange their own care, the immediate result would be shorter queues for all of us.

Ken Johnston Toronto


Re Canadian Study To Test TB Vaccine For Effectiveness Against Virus (Oct. 6): As someone who was successfully treated with BCG for bladder cancer, it occurred to me that there must be a large number of people who have received similar treatment (more than half a million people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year). It should be possible to estimate the percentage of people treated with BCG who have not been infected by COVID-19.

Such a task would be challenging but, if done, could serve as a useful supplement to the clinical trials under way.

Tony Manera Ottawa

Old school, new school

Re Canada’s Bureaucratic School System Needs A Top-to-Bottom Overhaul (Oct. 2): I believe we have no chance of returning to normal, and reviving our economy, unless our school system is well resourced and responsive to the communities it serves. In Ontario, we have two major problems that should be addressed.

First, we don’t have the resources for multiple school boards. We should have all resources committed to one well-funded public system.

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Second, we should have effective local control of schools. Previously, the Harris government stripped school boards of taxing powers and therefore their autonomy.

Starting with these reforms would free up resources to deal with COVID-19 and other future challenges.

Steve Parish Ajax, Ont.


Re Learning Is Learning (Letters, Oct. 2): Stand in a high-school corridor and watch 1,500-plus teenagers move to different rooms every 75 minutes. “Learning pods,” though a new term, have been with us for more than a century.

Three decades ago, I picked up a dull-covered book that shocked me: The curriculum I loved and the subjects that I taught grew out of university turf wars no more than a century before. I realized that no curriculum is sacrosanct in the face of history. How else could I explain my ignorance of disappeared subjects such as rhetoric and logic, or grammar and astronomy?

One of my professors told me: High schools are like dinosaurs, only we do not realize it. Change moves slowly, as it should, and great crises can illuminate the present. New language emerges to describe old ways. Our subject-based curriculum rests on “learning pods” from another century. Nothing stands still.

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Mary Curran Whitby, Ont.

Financial fuel

Re RBC Refuses To Finance Arctic Drilling And Puts Restrictions On Coal Under New Investment Guidelines (Report on Business, Oct. 3): The Banking on Climate Change Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020 found that Royal Bank of Canada is the fifth-leading global investor in all fossil fuels, spending $140.7-billion from 2016 to 2019. RBC mainly invests in tar sands oil, meaning the bank’s plan to avoid Arctic drilling and coal mining seems more like business as usual.

We should stop presenting funders of climate change as heroes in the fight against it. They hold weapons we can hardly imagine; if they don’t relent, then we won’t reach net-zero carbon by 2050.

Emily McIsaac Montreal


Re Alberta To Diversify Economy With Big Bet On Hydrogen (Oct. 6): I’m relieved to hear that Alberta will be known as the province with dinosaur fossils and hydrogen fuel, rather than dinosaurs relying on fossil fuels.

Mary Lapner Ottawa

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Let’s party

Re With Annamie Paul, The Greens Decide To Compete For Votes, And Seats and Re New Green Leader Is Breaking Barriers (Oct. 5): In the new Green Party leadership, this reader (okay, an older one) sees a reflection of past NDP battles, when the “sensible” pragmatics defeated the progressives.

In Ontario, the “Waffle movement” was defeated by Stephen Lewis and Bob Rae. It produced the Rae provincial government – and the continuing third-party state of the federal NDP.

Thomas Kane Vancouver


Annamie Paul’s welcome election as the new Green Party Leader brings to mind our small group who ran in the federal election of 1980, including Elizabeth May against Allan MacEachen in Nova Scotia, and myself against David Crombie in Toronto.

Calling ourselves the “Small Party” (inspired by British economist E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful), ours was a solo cause, an environmental, educational mission. Of course we lost, but the green ideas have blossomed and endured. Ms. Paul will continue to help make Canadian lives healthier and fairer.

Frank Sommers Toronto

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Taiwan tension

Re It May Be Time To Take A Closer Look At Taiwan and U.S. Calls On Canada To Defy China, Strengthen Ties With Taiwan (Oct. 1): We believe professors Wenran Jiang and Roland Paris are quite wrong to suggest that Taiwan is only useful insofar as it relates to Canada’s relationships with China and the United States. We find it imprudent, immoral and impractical to view Canada’s engagement with Taiwan in this way.

Taiwan is a thriving democracy of 23 million-plus people, Canada’s 13th-largest trading partner – and one that shares our values. Even if, for instance, we were to predicate our foreign policy on the result of the U.S. election, both sides of the political aisle in that country are still working to advance engagement with Taiwan.

As a sovereign country, our foreign policy should neither rise nor fall on U.S. politics or five-year plans from Zhongnanhai. It should be in Canada’s interests to engage with Taiwan, and Ottawa’s interests to set the terms of that engagement directly with Taipei.

Brett Byers, communications manager, Macdonald-Laurier Institute; Ottawa

Charles Burton, senior fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute; St. Catharines, Ont.

Our mirrors, ourselves

Re Canada Has To Do Better Than Trumpland (Editorial, Oct 6): Distracting ourselves from our own failures, by comparing our situation to the United States, is unfortunately not limited to our pandemic response. In fact, it is a smug, easy out when it comes to racism, treatment of minorities, health care, gun violence and incarceration, etc.

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Tim Jeffery Toronto


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