'We must take steps to protect ourselves and our families'

Letters to the editor, Sept. 22, 2020: Readers weigh in on anti-vaxxers disrupting the effectiveness of a COVID-19 cure, the WE Charity saga and alternatives to the nuclear family

In July, Associate Editor Aaron Hutchins wrote that a COVID-19 vaccine will become the most valued resource on the planet as governments try to get enough for their citizens. But it would all be for naught, he writes, if they’re unable to convince people to take it when the time comes.

Scientific knowledge will not permeate the blanket of mental confusion that envelops anti-vaxxers (“How to keep the herd together,” Coronavirus, September 2020). So, we must take steps to protect ourselves and our families. Children without proof of vaccination should not be allowed in school or university unless a valid medical exemption is provided. People without such proof should not be allowed in seniors’ homes or in hospitals. Non-vaccinated people who incur medical costs caused by the virus should pay for those costs. Other possibilities include air travel: in order to safe-distance from fellow travellers, non-vaccinated passengers should pay for the empty seats on either side of them. A similar scheme could operate in cinemas. There is one advantage to having a large group of anti-vaxxers in our midst: the incidence of the virus will be increased in that group so that, with COVID-19’s significant mortality rate, eventually there will be an attrition in the percentage of the public infected with the conspiracy virus.
—Dr. Adrian Fine, MD, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP), Victoria

My mother was deaf in one ear due to measles. She was born in 1910. An acquaintance was raised as an only child as her four siblings all died of childhood diseases. She was born in the 1920s. I was born in 1945. I was one of the lucky ones who did not get polio. However, I remember to this day the panic in the summertime and the joy on my mother’s face when she brought me to the clinic for that wonderful new polio vaccine. I still remember three weeks of terrible suffering with measles when I was four years old. Fortunately I did not suffer repercussions, unlike a friend who had mottled teeth for life. My children were born in the 1970s, and naturally I made sure they had all the vaccinations available at that time. Today’s parents wouldn’t know a childhood disease if it smacked them across the head, hence the luxury of indifference and the outright balking at vaccinating their own children and themselves for anything. Life is cyclical. We are now back to the year 1910. How sad. How unnecessary.
—Robyn Hay, Calgary

The armour-plated blue line

In July, Assistant Editor Hamdi Issawi wrote that the growing militarization of police—from SWAT teams to so-called ‘rescue’ vehicles—is under scrutiny.

Your article on the militarization of police closes by saying it was “striking” that Halifax voted to shift funds from an armoured vehicle to combating anti-Black racism. The only police officer to die in the mass shooting in Nova Scotia was a public relations officer, and while her death was tragic, she would not have been deployed in an armoured vehicle. The police barely knew where the assailant was, and the officers who ended the massacre only crossed his path by fluke, so I can’t see how an armoured vehicle would have helped. So, why does the writer imply it would have? Halifax’s decision to turn away from militarization in favour of community support shows they know where harm reduction actually begins, and it is not behind armoured plates.
—Anne Simonen, Nelson, B.C.

Critical listening

In July, Royson James wrote that 24 years ago, the nation was unwilling to hear Olympic hero Donovan Bailey’s message. It matters more than ever, he writes, as Canadians finally confront their country’s own racist history.

Royson James’s profile of Donovan Bailey is timely, comprehensive and beautifully written, but I lost interest in, and compassion for, the subject partway through when I hit the quote “You need Black men at the decision-making tables at all levels.” Wrong, Mr. Bailey—as wrong as the racism and smug complacency described in the article. Blatant sexism is not the mark of a leader, at least any leader I might support. I contend that we need Black people, Indigenous people and, especially, women at those decision-making tables.
—Kathleen Raines, Rocky View County, Alta.

WE grant losers

In July, Senior Writer Paul Wells and Associate Editor Marie-Danielle Smith wrote that Team Trudeau—tired, wired and operating with the fail-safes turned off—made a big mistake. And it had an awfully familiar feel to it.

One could be forgiven—what with the PM’s penchant for committing a number of unforced errors, political blunders and general faux pas—for assuming that he has grown tired of running the country and is doing everything in his power to hand over the trappings of government to the Liberals’ arch enemies, the Conservatives. First it was his vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island, then he demoted the justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, after she refused to intercede in the SNC-Lavalin affair. Then, some embarrassing pictures of him in blackface surfaced alongside allegations of inappropriate touching. Now, we’re all being drawn into this WE imbroglio in which the Kielburger brothers, whose lack of corporate governance often translated into largesse not only for members of Trudeau’s family, but also for the finance minister’s. And so here we are with Pierre Poilievre, the Tories’ attack dog, giving Justin a good thrashing during question period. Tragically, those students most in need of the more than $900 million in grant money will now get absolutely nothing as a result. And there doesn’t appear to be any grumblings about it from either side of the aisle.
—William Eady, Edmonton

With audacious tenacity, Trudeau shamelessly remains our Prime Minister. He thought that paying $43.5 million to acquaintances with close ties to his and the finance minister’s families to administer the grant program would be okay. Not so. Times have changed; Trudeau has not. Meanwhile, he and the Liberal Party maintain a lead. Canadian voters, too, have a blind spot. If this blows over like all the other blunders, Trudeau will likely call Bill Morneau and just start laughing his head off.
—Stephen Whelan, Kentville, N.S.

Tory torpor

In July, Associate Editor Marie-Danielle Smith profiled Conservative leadership candidates Erin O’Toole and Leslyn Lewis, while Alberta Correspondent Jason Markusoff profiled Peter MacKay.

If Greta Thunberg had been a candidate for the Tory leadership instead of the three candidates you covered, I might have been interested. I say this tongue-in-cheek, but not completely. Although I am far from impressed by Justin Trudeau and company’s behind-the-scenes political dealings, God help Canadians should the highly fragmented Conservative Party somehow stumble into power. The Canadian political arena, as I view it, has been reduced to performing on three cylinders. I would be interested to read a Maclean’s article on why such a large number of mature Canadian adults have elected to not take part in the election process? Could it be more than not wanting to waste a vote on a candidate or party they do not respect?
—Ray Grant, St. Catharines, Ont.

In this era of “wokeness,” along with the ascension of Black Lives Matter, I believe that it will be detrimental to the Conservative Party of Canada to have Erin O’Toole as leader. O’Toole recently refused to use the term “systemic racism” and did not answer clearly when pressed on whether he believes it even exists. O’Toole will hand the Liberals an easy victory during the next election, which is unfortunate given that Canada cannot afford another four years of Justin Trudeau.
—Gila Kibner, Toronto

Notions of conformity

In August, Contributing Editor Andray Domise wrote that the nuclear family structure was forced upon present-day Black families. This structure not only eroded the modes that Africans had long thrived on and carried out in their tradition, he writes, but it drove the production of social and environmental ruin.

I would like to respond to Andray Domise’s column rejecting the nuclear family structure imposed by white supremacy, as well as his promotion, in its place, of the matriarchal tradition that is characteristic of Black families and African tradition. In his seminal 1965 study, the Moynihan Report, former U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who, at the time of the study, worked for the Lyndon B. Johnson administration) summed up what is a main argument contrary to Domise’s position: “There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement. However, it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operating on one principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the most advantages to begin with, is operating on another.” In other words, conformity to the family and societal norms and structures of the majority is crucial to integration and socioeconomic advancement within that society. The single greatest predictor of future poverty and crime is being born into a single-parent household. Therefore, to encourage Black people to perpetuate this cycle clearly places Black children at a significant disadvantage in relation to their future levels of education, employment, income and crime.
—Jerry Simonelli, Windsor, Ont.

Who’s the aggressor?

In August, Terry Glavin wrote that the Trudeau government’s foreign policy is perfect—for the 1990s. It turned out that the rest of the world, he writes, wasn’t as keen on neo-liberal multilateralism as Team Trudeau had imagined.

In his attack on China, Terry Glavin is truly in the wrong era. It is now the 21st century; he is still stuck in the 20th-century Cold War ethos: contain Communist China (and, of course, Russia). What is totally missing is today’s reality. He accuses China of “aggression”—no examples. If it’s China building military bases in the China (repeat, China) Sea, this is understandable as defensive action. The U.S. has major military bases in Asia and two battle fleets with aircraft carriers, missile cruisers and nuclear submarines steaming off China’s coast. Add to that America’s 800-plus military bases around the world and massive military spending, not to mention constant invasions and wars, and this is what, peaceful behaviour? Glavin should ask how the Americans would react if Chinese warships started steaming toward the U.S. and if China built military bases in, say, Latin America. He would be screaming, “Chinese aggression!” Anti-Chinese bigotry has a long and sordid history in Canada. So “Cold War II” has been easy to initiate by the Anglo-Saxon West. Little has changed, except that China has now shown that it can develop technology superior to that of America’s, hence the attacks on Huawei, TikTok and other Chinese products. Of course, claiming these technologies pose a “security risk” is a great way to do it.
—Hendrik S. Weiler, Port Perry, Ont.

The love issue

In June, Managing Editor Dafna Izenberg wrote that the Normal People TV series redeemed the novel for her: “It’s better than the book,” she thought.

Thank you so much for the piece about Sally Rooney’s novel and TV adaptation. It was the first thing I read. I methodically considered each article in the issue, going from the magazine’s front to back, thinking, “Ya, no, looks interesting, but I can come back, I’m moving on.” (I did, however, pause over the photos of COVID reunion hugs. And come to think of it, the image of a girl hugging a steer caught my gaze, too. So one could say I “read” those, too.) Then, for actual “reading” reading, I got stopped by the story about Normal People and plunged in. Though I have neither read the book nor watched the show, I’m a bit of a CBC junkie and have been unable to avoid the promotional spots, and I am intrigued enough to want to learn something about it. Like the writer, Dafna Izenberg, I am on the search for enlightenment in topics related to politics, art and, especially, love. And Normal People is about love; I know that much from the ads. Though perhaps like Izenberg, I wonder if I am more ready to discuss art and politics, perhaps finding the central theme of love a more difficult topic on which to share one’s thoughts.
—Jane Rees, Innisfil, Ont.