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Singer Neil Young listens to a question during a news conference before the last concert in his Honour the Treaties tour in Calgary on Jan. 19, 2014. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Singer Neil Young listens to a question during a news conference before the last concert in his Honour the Treaties tour in Calgary on Jan. 19, 2014. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

W2HAT READERS THINK

Jan. 20: Neil Young replies – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Neil Young replies

Gary Mason, in his column Complicated, Like Neil Young Himself (Jan. 17) writes that I got some facts wrong about where production from the oil sands goes.

To put this in context, we were discussing pipelines. If pipelines are completed through the U.S. and Canada, the pipeline through Western Canada would send oil directly to China. The Keystone XL pipeline through the U.S. and Canada would serve oil to China and other world markets.

Both pipelines would necessitate great expansion of Alberta’s tar sands, destroying the homeland of the First Nations guaranteed under treaties and creating CO2 emissions most of the world’s scientists agree would practically guarantee a temperature rise on Earth of 2 degrees. That increase would cause catastrophic damage to the ecosystem.

First Nation treaties are legal agreements that would prevent this world environmental catastrophe. That is why we say honour the treaties.

Mr. Mason contends most Canadians have no choice “but to drive around in clunkers fuelled by gasoline. They don’t have a rock star’s bank account.”

I was making the point that there are better ways to fuel the future. My vehicle runs on biomass, a fuel the federal government has identified as a great future fuel. I travelled to the Alberta tar sands from the West Coast and then went on to Washington using that fuel in my electric car’s generator to make the point.

Mr. Mason may be right when he says that per day, the CO2 coming from the tar sands is half the CO2 emitted from every car in Canada. I don’t think that’s anything to be proud of. I don’t think the world’s scientists do either.

Neil Young, Regina

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The oil sands, like any industrial site, are not pretty, but the oil industry is vital to Canada’s economic well-being. The oil sands might not be a pretty sight, but neither is the sight of an aging rock star trying to restart his flagging career by jumping on the anti-oil bandwagon.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

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Mideast add-ons

Re Stephen Harper’s Firsthand Israel (Jan. 17): I quite enjoyed – and learned some things from – the commentary by Rafi Barak, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, in which he identified many hopes for the Prime Minister’s trip.

I’d just add that I would hope that Mr. Harper (and the 150-person Canadian contingent) would also visit areas in the West Bank.

I’d like them to see how the expansion of settlements in the West Bank is (as once described by Ariel Sharon) gradually but steadily destroying the possibilities for the long-promised two-state solution. Maybe time in Gaza, too, as time spent in the Israeli villages near the border of Gaza would also be instructive.

Dianne Cooper, Winnipeg

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Pipe-bomb profiling?

Re Man Found With Bomb Later Allowed To Board Plane (Jan. 16): It is incredible that a person with a pipe bomb is allowed to board a plane after the bomb is confiscated. How would this have played out if the passenger’s name had been Abdul or Ahmed?

The consequence of possession of an explosive for this individual was a year’s probation. People have been put on no-fly lists and had their lives turned upside down just because their names are similar to or rhyme with known terrorists.

This passenger’s shock and surprise was given as a reason why he didn’t intend to cause harm. Is this the new intelligence criteria?

Salman Remtulla, Mississauga

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Back the job grant

Re Wanted: Policy Analyst. Experience Necessary (editorial, Jan. 17): The media, political pundits and policy wonks can wring their hands all they want about the roll-out of the Canada Job Grant. The construction businesses my organization represents – alongside employers from across Canada – steadfastly remain in support of this skills-training initiative.

Its implementation would put employers in the driver’s seat and ensure training dollars are tied to real jobs. Businesses understand we can’t complain about skills shortages without doing our part to train the next generation of workers. The job grant’s cost-matching design will enable employers to do exactly that.

Armchair quarterbacks should step aside. Give federal and provincial governments the chance to put this initiative in motion.

Sean Reid, director, federal and Ontario Progressive Contractors Association of Canada

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Sunset democracy

Re Decades Ago, We Should Have Listened To Joe (Jan. 14): Joe Clark “walked his talk” on democratic reform. As a backbench opposition MP, he said something was very much amiss in the significant shift of power from Parliament to the PMO. When he became PM in 1979, he actually did something about it.

He appointed Perrin Beatty minister of state for the Treasury Board with a mandate to prepare a proposal to cabinet for “sunset” legislation. This would require major-expenditure programs to have a specific future date – i.e. five to 10 years – at which time they would be subject to a rigorous evaluation by a House of Commons committee.

The focus would be on the program’s effectiveness in terms of its stated objectives. The committee would have access to their own professional staff independent from the prime minister/ministers. The reports would be public. The government would be required to respond to such reports in the House including, explicitly, whether the program would be phased out, amending legislation would be tabled, or the program would remain as is. The “executive” would then be meaningfully accountable to the elected representatives of the people.

In 1980, Mr. Clark’s government was defeated. The draft legislation lies buried in the bowels of the Treasury Board. Sad.

Tim Reid, a former deputy secretary of the Treasury Board, Toronto

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School system values

Re Ontario Catholic School Promotional Video Causing A Stir (Jan. 16): If Marc Kielburger wishes to compare the values of public versus Catholic schools he would be wise to remember some key points: The new Pope’s charm offensive notwithstanding, Catholic dogma still teaches that homosexual acts are sinful and objectively disordered; women are still forbidden from becoming priests; the church was recently excoriated by the UN for its role in protecting priests accused of sexual abuse of children.

In Ontario, public schools celebrate LGBTQ students and enthusiastically create gay-straight alliance clubs while Catholic boards resist, with some schools banning rainbows and the word “gay.” Considering the frequent bullying suffered by these students and their shockingly high suicide rates, one wonders what “values” justify the institutional ostracism Catholic schools force them to endure.

Public schools should welcome comparisons about the values of each system.

Joe Killoran, teacher, Toronto District School Board

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