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Today’s letters: Ukraine — haven’t we learned from history?


Saturday, Feb. 26: On Ukraine, the occupation of Ottawa, and Doug Ford. You can write to us too at letters@ottawacitizen.com

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Haven’t we learned from the Second World War?

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Russia invades Ukraine and NATO stands by. It is reminiscent of the pre-Second World War period, when nations cowered in spite of ominous warnings by Germany. The U.S. remained neutral. Hitler couldn’t believe it. Bullying tactics, bluff, actually work.

Fast forward to today. The population of Russia is less than 150 million. The population of the NATO countries is: Europe, 600 million; U.S., 320 million; and Canada, 38 million. That’s 958 million people. Russia is outnumbered six to one, with many times the number of weapons. And yet, we do almost nothing.

Have our leaders not learned from history? Heck, that’s not even history.  The Second World War was next to yesterday.

Jacques Dufault, Orléans

How about sanctioning Russians in the NHL?

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Many of the Russians playing in the NHL are big supporters of Vladimir Putin. Alex Ovechkin even opened up a website to promote Putin in an election, and brags about their friendship. The salaries of just the top 10 Russian hockey players total more than $100 million U.S. Much of this income is spent in Russia.

Sanctioning Russian hockey players is one way to show Putin and Russia how we feel about Russian aggression in Ukraine. Russian citizens may feel we are not that concerned when we allow their hockey players to be stars and make those salaries in North America.

Keith Phillips, Ottawa

A Canadian way to stop the invasion

What can Canada do to stop this invasion? Offer citizenship to any member of the Russian military who wishes it.

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Tom Fotheringham, Ottawa

Ban vehicles during demonstrations only

Re: City expects occupation will cost $30M, Feb. 23.

Instead of turning Wellington Street into a pedestrian street, why not pass a municipal law prohibiting all vehicles during demonstrations? No vehicle (car, truck, tractor, motorcycle, drone, tank, etc.) should be allowed at a demonstration, no more in the city centre than in front of a school, a hospital or any other place within the city of Ottawa. Children, animals, constructions, excessive noise, excessive smells and so on should also be prohibited at demonstrations and manifestations.

By definition, a manifestation is “a public gathering of people for the purpose of demonstrating.” To be legal, they should be limited to adults. Ontario should also follow suit.

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Helene Boivin, Ottawa

Sloly not the only one who should have resigned

When a blaring hodgepodge of anti-everythings announced to the world they were coming to Ottawa to replace the leaders of our national government, our senior municipal officials did nothing. When, to his horror, then-police chief Peter Sloly realized what had (and had not) happened under his watch, he did the honourable thing and resigned. Fresh leadership was required.

In contrast, after of a week or so of invisibility and inaction at city hall, Mayor Jim Watson responded by helping one of the organizers concentrate more large trucks along Wellington Street. This misguided act of appeasement made the already complicated job of recovering our most important avenue all the more difficult and dangerous.

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As the result of his inaction and then disastrous personal intervention became clear, did Watson follow Sloly’s honourable decision and resign? No, he made up an excuse to oust a political rival from a key occupation-recovery position and replace her with one of his own. I am sure the anarchist mob was most impressed. What a legacy.

Daniel F. Brunton, Ottawa

Steve Bell passes his job interview with flying colours

Former deputy police chief, now acting chief, Steve Bell is in the midst of the most difficult job interview in Ottawa police history. The insurgents who took over our downtown have been turned away, and his leadership since becoming acting chief has been incredible. Bell’s calm, thoughtful and steady hand through it all was extraordinary and he remains vigilant.

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In a typical interview, the candidate is almost always asked: “Tell us about a typical challenge you faced and how you managed it.” What a response he can provide to that one! Members of the Ottawa Police Service and other forces took our city back for us and we thank them all.

We don’t need to look any further for a new chief than the current “acting“ one.

Jeff Turner, Manotick

The protesters should reimburse their victims

I agree that the people affected by the occupation in Ottawa should be reimbursed, but it will really gets up my nose if it’s my tax money paying for it. Surely we can get the money from the people who caused the problem in the first place?

Margot Cameron, Ottawa

Trudeau did the right thing to help end protest

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I am not, and never have been, a supporter of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — until now. He may have been a little late to the (protest) party, but he dealt with it effectively. The Emergencies Act was precisely the right tool to end the blockade nonsense in Ottawa and elsewhere.

This measure facilitated the magnificent and restrained response from the nation’s police forces to end the occupations by illegal and dangerous protest forces. And the financial and other measures introduced further served to help end the protests. Protests over, the Emergencies Act has now been put to bed, as promised.

And what, pray, did the leaders of the Official Opposition contribute to this effort? Precisely nothing other than praise for the protesters. People would do well to remember this at the next election. The Conservatives should realize that they do not add to their allure, by covering themselves in manure.

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Brian Lane, Ottawa

Trudeau did exactly the wrong thing

The legacy of the protest downtown will be the failure of the prime minister as a leader.

One of the main things that make our country great is our use of civil discourse, even if is not exercised enough by the politicians. If Justin Trudeau had had the common courtesy to meet his citizens and at least acknowledge their grievances about mandates, it would have served to alleviate the situation. Instead truckers that drove across the country were marginalized, then vilified.

Matthew Lemieux, Orléans

What happened to our ‘law and order’ Conservatives?

As a Conservative voter, I am dismayed by the support of many Conservative politicians for the trucker occupation of Ottawa. I assume that the likes of Candice Bergen and Pierre Poilievre supported the protesters because they think it appeals to their base. Well, I have been part of that base for many decades and I am disgusted. I thought the Conservatives supported law and order but now they cheer illegality and disorder.

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Poilievre says he is proud of the illegal occupiers but I have not heard him say he is proud of the brilliant, safe and effective police operation to end the chaos. I am very proud of the police on this occasion.

I would never vote Liberal or NDP so it looks like I have one or more federal elections ahead in which I will have to spoil my ballot. Thankfully, Premier Doug Ford does not seem to have adopted the Trumpish irresponsibility of the federal Conservatives, so I may still have a provincial party to support.

William Vanveen, Kemptville

The protesters still have the right to vote

Sorry to ruin everyone’s day, but these stubborn, ignorant and uninformed truckers still have the right to stack their votes against yours in the next federal election.

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Thomas Brawn, Orléans

Let’s beef up the science curriculum

Re: A few education tips to help future protesters, Feb. 22.

The points raised by Constance McLeese are valid and well presented.  However, there is another important facet of education that should be emphasized.

Many of the protesters claim that our health practices and medical advances are part and parcel of the “big lie” and fake news. An enhanced science program in our schools would go a long way to debunk the protesters’ assertions regarding vaccines, their efficacy, and other medical nonsense.

There may be differences of opinion but solid science is irrefutable.  Science is fact-based and should not be used for political expediency. To paraphrase others, when you mix science and politics, you get politics — to the detriment of all.

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Fred Boyce, Ottawa

Humans react to threats more than facts

Having taught history for over 30 years, I remember teaching the lessons that writer Constance McLeese referred to in her article. Current events were usually different each year but the civics information remained the same. Most students reviewed the material before tests and exams and, unless they pursued a career where it was needed, seldom remembered the details.

History is filled with examples of people — highly educated and undereducated — being radicalized when they feel threatened, politically, economically and/or socially. Human nature reacts to threats more strongly than to school lessons.

The protestors I have seen interviewed do not care about history or civics. They want FREEDOM. Their definition of freedom differs from mine and I doubt if any amount of civics instruction will change that. I am all in favour of the curriculum McLeese wants restored but I do not expect it to change our human instincts.

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Harvey Davey, Ottawa

How about sentencing them to a civics course?

Based on some of the defences given during the bail hearings of the arrested occupiers, perhaps either the bail conditions or the final sentences for those found guilty should include attending and passing a course on the Canadian Constitution and our rights and freedoms. This would include learning how individual rights and freedoms are superseded by societal rights and freedoms and responsibilities that go along with the freedoms they loudly espoused over the last three weeks.

Maybe with the knowledge they gain from the course, some of the occupiers would then understand the ramifications of their action if, heaven forbid, they decided to act again in the future.

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Charlie Inglis. Nepean

Ford’s licence-plate fee refund is sheer politicking

Re: Licence plate sticker fees dropped for drivers in Ontario, Ford says, Feb. 22.

I have never seen such a blatant buying of votes as Premier Doug Ford’s government scrapping and refunding the licence-plate renewal fee, and also dropping tolls on some provincial highways. This is targeted to his base in suburban Ontario, where multiple vehicle ownership is necessary because of the inadequacy of public transit and poor community design resulting in a lack of walkability.

Losing $1 billion in revenue, when we are drowning in COVID debt and need additional funds for health care, education, public transit and affordable housing, is gross fiscal mismanagement. We should not be giving private car ownership any financial incentives. We already allocate too many resources to infrastructure for cars.

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In recent weeks, Ford said we had a housing crisis and his solution is to reduce municipal control over development, which will allow his developer friends to push through projects without appropriate municipal control and community consultation. Ford suggests the licence fee money is better spent in our hands and that we go out and buy dinner with our refund. I think the province spending that $1 billion on affordable housing would have a much bigger impact on the quality of life of all our communities.

I hope Ontarians will remember how two-faced this government is when it is time to vote. I will be donating my refund to a local housing coop or environmental group to try to direct these funds to where they belong. I hope you will consider donating to a cause that moves our society forward together.

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Lynn Armstrong, Ottawa

Licence-plate policy is short-sighted

Have our leaders forgotten that 100 grams of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure? Doug Ford is making it less costly to operate a vehicle in Ontario, “putting money into the pockets of Ontarians.” At a time when we have to curb our fossil fuel consumption and not promote it, this action is so very short-sighted.

Using the licensing fee money Ford is returning to the people to reduce public transit fares would still put money into Ontarians’ pockets, not just the pockets of those who can afford a vehicle.

Our children’s future depends on wise and effective action today, not sometime after the next election.

Mark Shulist, Gloucester

Prejudice and privilege mar global COVID efforts

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As we wrap up Black History Month, here is the current disturbing state of affairs: less than 10 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated, compared to up to 80 per cent for some of the high-income countries, including Canada. Some lives do — clearly — matter less.

Profit, prejudice and privilege are getting in the way of an equitable global response to COVID. Should this weigh on our collective conscience? Yes. Is Canada effectively responding to the global pandemic? No.

Canada must disrupt the status quo by increasing its international assistance envelope. Otherwise, our government will be unable to effectively respond to the pandemic, nor lessen its devastating effects.

Hanna Belayneh, Ottawa

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