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Economist Don Drummond. Today’s topics: refugees and ‘safe’ countries; taxes and the Drummond report; e-privacy and e-policing; talk, talk, talk ... and more (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Economist Don Drummond. Today’s topics: refugees and ‘safe’ countries; taxes and the Drummond report; e-privacy and e-policing; talk, talk, talk ... and more (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

Feb. 18: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Where it’s ‘safe’

Without success, Canadian governments have tried measure after measure during the past 20 years to stop misuse of our refugee system. The current plan, based on pronouncements by ministers that certain countries are “safe,” will not end the litigation or inevitable delays that ensue (Tories Introduce Bill To Thwart ‘Bogus’ Refugees – Feb. 17).

It would be far better to simply bar EU citizens from claiming refugee status in Canada. This would not be a breach of our international obligations because of the protections available as a matter of right in Europe through the European Court of Human Rights and the mobility rights that allow EU citizens to move within the union.

Raphael Girard, Ottawa

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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney tells us we must change our immigration laws in order to limit applications from nations that already protect human rights and therefore could not possibly be legitimate sources of refugees (Effective, But A Bit More Appeal, Please – editorial, Feb. 17). Nations, we are told, such as Mexico.

Yet long-time conservative activist Ezra Levant, in his book Ethical Oil, tells us we should stop purchasing oil from Mexico because of its “endemic human rights abuses.”

Mexico either protects human rights or it does not. It cannot change based on whatever the Conservatives think will best help to sell ill-informed policy.

Ryan Hoskins, Edmonton

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Tax ‘effectiveness’

While the benefits of improving efficiency and eliminating waste are self-evident, they should not be the only means tried to balance budgets (Ontario’s Challenge ‘Unprecedented’ – Feb. 16). “Savings” made by cuts in essential services, including those such as education that ultimately improve productivity and competitiveness, are counterproductive and thus illusory.

Taxes were not in Don Drummond’s mandate as a means of reducing the deficit. Charging fees for services, which he has recommended is, of course, a form of taxation. Worse, fees for services are regressive, as the poor pay what the rich pay.

Mr. Drummond’s report correctly calls for evidence-based efficiencies. The evidence I’ve seen says most people would accept a tax increase to preserve services deemed essential to the quality of life in Canada. Most people want tax effectiveness, not tax cuts. A progressive tax regime is consistent with fairness, another value Canadians hold dear.

Efficiency and waste elimination, together with a progressive tax increase to cover costs, is the balance that must be struck.

Jack Diamond, Toronto

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I’m very curious how Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty will respond to the Drummond report. When it comes to spending, his actions are all Greek to me.

Lyman MacInnis, Toronto

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E-privacy, e-policing

Lorna Dueck presents a flawed analogy that surfing the Internet is akin to driving your car in public (It’s Child Porn – We Need Bill C-30 – Feb. 17). A more apt analogy would be allowing the police to follow your every movement on the road using a GPS tracking device without a warrant. We should not accept this kind of warrantless surveillance of our movements, just as we should not accept Bill C-30 allowing warrantless surveillance of our private online activities.

The OPP case Ms. Dueck mentions actually dispels the myth that police need these new intrusive powers to prosecute child exploitation. The police were successful in executing warrants and obtaining information from ISPs which resulted in 213 charges against 60 individuals.

We can all agree that police must have effective and proportionate tools. But Canadians must be assured that those tools are being used appropriately. A proper legal framework is built upon prior judicial authorization and post-surveillance accountability. In this way, we can have effective policing and protect our rights to privacy and freedom – we need both.

Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario

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Those names

In all the discussion on the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, people generally have failed to applaud the government’s attempts to introduce greater transparency by accurately describing legislation’s intent.

Of course, they missed the boat with the recent Support to Bambi-Shooters’ Act. With regard to immigration and refugee matters, one can only hope that we will now see the Closing the Stable Door Act and, at some time in the future, various Pandering to our Constituency Acts.

A.S. Brown, Kingston, Ont.

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Missing #8

With the passing of former Montreal Expo Gary Carter (Obituaries – Feb. 17) goes a little piece of Canadiana, a touchstone to a time when the entire country was caught up with the highs and lows of the Expos, who were then called “Canada’s Team.”

The Hall of Fame catcher who wears the Expos cap in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame was so popular at one point that prime minister Pierre Trudeau quipped, “I am certainly happy that I don’t have to run for election against Gary Carter.” No one will forget the Expos of that period, or the incandescent smile of #8, The Kid, Gary Carter. Thanks for the memories.

J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto

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How tweet it isn’t

Re Tories Accuse NDP Of ‘Dirty, Sleazy’ Twitter Attack On E-Snooping Champion (online, Feb. 17): This from the party that defended their own dirty tricks campaigns? The Conservatives have set themselves up as the arbiters of morality in this country. It is reasonable for Canadians to know just what sort of morality they are espousing. If Vic Toews has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.

James Motluk, Toronto

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Poor Vic Toews is currently the subject of considerable humour and some disdain as the point man for Bill C-30. I hope he isn’t canned. In the wings is Julian Fantino.

Brian Harvey, Mississauga

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I’m all for exposing Vic Toews for what he really is, but it’s unfortunate to see the focus placed on his personal life: More to the point, how can someone call himself a Public Safety Minister and include a Ruger-Mini/Steyr sniper rifle clause in the already dangerous Bill C-19? This bill allows people to collect guns that ought to be considered paramilitary weapons.

Ron Charach, Toronto

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One gets you five

News that mobile devices will outnumber humans this year is startling (Social Studies – Feb. 17). Perhaps each device should be issued with a warning inspired by St. Augustine of Hippo: For every unnecessary word spoken, the guilty soul must spend an extra five years in Purgatory’s torment.

James P. B. Kelly, Unionville, Ont.

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