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The Louis Cardinal makes its way across the Mackenzie River at Tsiigehtchic, NWT. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The Louis Cardinal makes its way across the Mackenzie River at Tsiigehtchic, NWT. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

THE CONVERSATION

Jan. 25: This week’s Talking Point – the North – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

‘Climatically, economically, socially and culturally – our North is being redefined,’ wrote Globe editor-in-chief John Stackhouse. Readers, print and digital, explore a True North that is as much a part of the geography of Canada’s soul as it is of its landscape

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Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, is another of those powerful, poignant voices for the Inuit. She argues that the climate change battle is one for human rights. Speaking of the many threats to a healthy Arctic, she says: “We are defending our right to culture, our right to lands traditionally used and occupied … to our own means of subsistence … to residence and movement. Our culture is based on the cold, the ice and snow, we are in essence defending our right to be cold.”

Jim Sinclair, North Bay, Ont.

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Stephen Harper wants to demonstrate Canada’s sovereignty by building a highway from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. Yes, the Arctic is thawing, shipping channels are opening up. But if the ice is thawing, what of the permafrost? The tundra is a land literally floating on ice – not a viable option for a road. The road is to be built to a community that is likely at risk as sea levels rise.

Millions to build a road, only to face endless millions to maintain it! When Mr. Harper promised a docking facility for the now abandoned town of Nanisivik, news about the thawing permafrost was already in the media.

There is a winter road structure in the North which is adaptable to season and location.

The proposed road-building money should be spent, in consultation with the communities, on projects to offset the high basic cost of living, provide needed assistance to manage substance abuse, implement job creation programs and build recreational facilities for the youth. This would have lasting results.

Kieran Moore, Peterborough, Ont.

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Many food items cost much more in the North, just as property insurance costs more (or is unavailable) on floodplains.

In each case, there are good economic reasons. So, in either situation, what is the case for a price subsidy? If the cost of living is too high in a particular place – Iqaluit, Lower Manhattan, wherever – doesn’t it make more sense to encourage, and perhaps help, people move elsewhere?

Richard Harris, Hamilton

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We permanent residents up North have no choice but to pay for groceries from the money we make, through work, welfare, EI, etc. as we do not get a food allowance from our employers.

Those who are not permanent residents are very well off, not having to pay for rent, food, transportation, airfare etc.

Lizzie Palituq, Clyde River, Nunavut

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Fossil fuels are burned that spew carbon into the atmosphere, which accelerates the melting of polar ice caps, which opens up the Northwest Passage as a shipping route, which allows for quicker shipment and subsequent burning of fossil fuels which, in turn, accelerates the amount of carbon being spewed into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, companies and individuals who seek to profit most from this positive feedback loop are the very ones who obscure the fact that there’s any issue at all. Has there ever been a greater confluence of hubris and ecological ignorance?

Mark Bessoudo, Toronto

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So sad that no piece of our Earth is safe from greed. Scary as hell to think what this beautiful, untouched land is going to look like one day soon.

Dee-Dee Hillary, Cowichan, B.C.

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Canada needs to tell its big Arctic story to itself, its children and the world in a remarkable manner. Why not build the world’s coolest polar museum or discovery centre in the heart of our nation’s capital?

Jacques Sirois, Victoria

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Arctic sovereignty will not come as a result of rhetoric alone. Our cost to patrol and defend our oceans needs to be funded by a charge to commercial vessels for passage, as other countries do with similar shortcuts (Panama, Egypt). We need to patrol our northern waters and defend what has been ours for centuries.

When trespassers move freely through our waters unabated, we diminish our claim to the North. It is time for action, not words.

Pierre Vella-Zarb, Thornhill, Ont.

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In 1954, Canada and the U.S. reached agreement to build a line of radar sites in the high North (roughly along the 69th parallel). The line, which became a Cold War artifact, was named a Distant Early Warning (DEW) line.

Perhaps Canadian sovereignty would be better served by an international approach to the Arctic.

H. Neal Collins, Calgary

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The Canadian Forces have a presence in the north with CFS Alert. But more should be done to assert our ownership of the North.

Josh Keitel, Ottawa

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Parliament should hold a three-month session in the North to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Richard Chiasson, Ottawa

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

It’s a bike – and taxi

Re Taken For A Ride (editorial, Jan. 24): Bixi is an amalgam of bike and taxi. When you ask if we really need to share bikes, which are relatively cheap to buy, you fail to recognize the taxi side of the business.

We have used Bixi-style bikes in place of taxis in New York, Washington and, yes, even Toronto. You need to rethink the purpose of the bike-share program before dismissing it altogether.

Perhaps, as you suggested, better management and marketing would make a more successful venture.

Lydia Vale, Toronto

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Priced out of car love

Re Is The Love Affair Really Over? (Drive, Jan. 23): Kudos for pointing out the “big issue” with the affordability of auto ownership for young people.

I’ll be the first millennial to admit I like cars for more than getting around, but why would I spend close to ten grand a year on a car when I can spend $1,600 a year on a monthly transit pass?

Even with extra expenses for the occasional cab and ZipCar, I’m still ahead with transit. Financially, car ownership in an urban area just doesn’t make sense.

S. Joel Carlson, Cambridge, Me.

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Inspired by Rob Ford …

Re Bieber’s Arrest One Of Many Troubles (Jan. 24): Justin Bieber should adopt the Rob Ford defence to what police in Miami say was as an early morning drag race on a residential street.

Taking a page from the mayor of Toronto, the Bieb can argue he was driving in the privacy of his car, so it’s no one’s business what he does off stage. And, anyway, he has put it all behind him.

Michael Benedict, Toronto

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Down the loonie hole

Another door in the Alice-in-Wonderland labyrinth of monetary policy has been opened for me by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz (That Sinking Feeling – Report on Business, Jan. 23). This new space contains the perils of ongoing low inflation due to “widespread and persistent competition among retailers.”

As a senior with declining income, I had mistakenly thought I was benefiting from price competition and low inflation. I’ve added “persistent competition” to my worry list and urge my peers to do likewise.

Hugh Whiteley, Guelph, Ont.

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