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Today’s topics: oil sands, tar sands and Thomas Mulcair; fish in coal mines; Quebec’s impasse; moral advantage … and more
Today’s topics: oil sands, tar sands and Thomas Mulcair; fish in coal mines; Quebec’s impasse; moral advantage … and more

What readers think

June 2: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Oil sands, tar sands

Like most who observe the oil sands firsthand, Thomas Mulcair’s perspective on this vast effort of development and energy production probably has changed (Shine A Light On The Oil Sands Boom – June 1). This is an engine, however fitful and cyclic, of our nation’s economic growth and wealth generation.

It does have an impact on all of Canada, but it is only one component of the complexity that is the basis for our dollar’s relative strength.

There would be less negative debate if more facts and less opinion were on display. It is the latter, based on one-dimensional analysis in the media, that seems to get people worked up unnecessarily.

Let’s just implement a national energy policy with the goal of maximizing the added-value opportunity that the oil sands present, utilizing the best environmentally sound technology available, and bask in the wealth that would then support the social programs to which we have so addictively become accustomed.

Walter F. Petryschuk, former president, Sun-Canadian Pipeline; former director-general, National Research Council of Canada; Sarnia, Ont.

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The Canadian split over Thomas Mulcair’s energy views harks back to the days of the old Alberta bumper sticker: Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark. Perhaps the new version will be: Let the unemployed Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.

Rick Durst, Milford Bay, Ont.

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When he was campaigning in Calgary for the NDP leadership, Thomas Mulcair told a group of us, “You may not like to hear this but the oil sands [he did not say tar sands]aren’t going away. We should implement laws already in place to regulate this industry.” As Opposition Leader, he challenges us to debate Canada’s future while his opponents hide behind nasty comments.

The Pembina Institute declares we have “oil sands fever,” while the Harper government labels environmentalists as foreign radicals. Alberta has become one of the planet’s largest CO2 producers; the petrodollar is hurting export manufacturers. Like ostriches with our heads in the tar sands, Canadians must see that our oil money is flowing South and we are left to clean up the mess.

Larry MacKillop, Nanton, Alta.

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After Thomas Mulcair’s divisive labelling of Canada’s economy as suffering from Dutch disease, he compounded his error by declaring three of the Western premiers (B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan) as “messengers” of Stephen Harper, thus getting himself stuck to the tar like Br’er Rabbit.

Mr. Mulcair hopes one day to be prime minister, but pitting one area of the country against another is not the way to realize that goal.

Mr. Harper has the video footage. Long before the next election, the Conservatives will begin their attack ads. Will Mr. Harper demolish Mr. Mulcair as he did Paul Martin and Michael Ignatieff? The odds are he will, and Br’er Mulcair will be completely wrapped around that tar baby, for he wasn’t born and bred in the oil patch.

John Merriam, Berwick, N.S.

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Fish in coal mines

Protecting our fisheries is about more than fish stocks and fish habitat (Protecting Our Fisheries: An Open Letter To Stephen Harper – June 1). It’s about protecting life itself at all levels of the food chain, including that top-of-the-chain feeder, human beings. Fish, from eggs to adults, are the aquatic equivalent of the canary in the coal mine: Think DDT, heavy metals, PCBs, PAHs – just a few of the toxic hazards that fish have alerted us to. Clean water is a priority. Without it, no amount of economic development or cheap oil will be of benefit to anyone.

Kerry J. Hodson, Kingston

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June 2, 2008

Today marks four years since the passing of Sheela Basrur, the little doctor who could. Her efforts, especially as Toronto’s medical officer of health during the SARS crisis in 2003, saved many lives. I was one of them. It’s a good day to say: Thank you, Dr. Basrur.

Peter J. Duffy, Toronto

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Make ends meet?

Re Tension Mounts As Talks With Students Collapse (June 1): I am in Canada attending the Canadian Academic Accounting Association conference in Charlottetown and have an observation/suggestion.

Since funding constraints are a reality, perhaps there’s a creative way to bridge the divergent interests and make ends meet. When I was a student of business administration and economics at the German university of Witten/Herdecke (I graduated in 1991), the concept of a so-called “reverse generation contract” was invented.

That means, basically, that students would study for free (that way, students from lower income households are not discouraged), but after graduating, a percentage of their income would be paid back, depending on their level of income. Those who earn a lot may pay back more quickly, those who earn less may take longer, and those who earn very little may be exempted.

With a “discounted net cash flow” to come, a university might be in the position to attract banks to pre-finance immediate financing gaps. Something for the students to consider proposing?

Rainer Lenz, Dreieich, Germany

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Moral advantage

In response to The Globe’s editorial Club Name Denial (May 30), letter writer William V. Reid (Naming Conventions – May 31) states that Catholic schools “do a much better job of teaching morality than public schools.” While I would agree that Catholic schools do a much better job of teaching Catholicism, I am not sold on the morality advantage for separate school students.

The public high school my son attends has a group that supports lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender students. I am heartened to know that young people, regardless of their sexual identity, can have somewhere to go and talk with people who do not discriminate or bully.

Kathy Ricketts-Moncur, Ancaster, Ont.

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Where’s the pride?

Allowing converted shipping containers to be used as vendors’ stalls on Toronto streets represents a total dumbing-down of a city that tells itself that it is “world class” (Shipping Containers Whet Entrepreneurs’ Appetites – June 1).

One is accustomed to seeing this in developing countries, not in Toronto. Have we no pride? In Elora, chip wagons have been banned, let alone used containers.

Philip Jardim, Elora, Ont.

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T-t-talkin’ ’bout …

I am a huge fan of Globe cartoonist Brian Gable (T-t-talkin’ ’Bout My Gennneration – June 1) and I loved The Who’s My Generation when it came out in 1965. But now that I’m close to 64, still getting by with a little help from my friends, I have to confess that somewhere along the way, I stopped hoping that I die before I get old …

Robert Wolfe, Glenburnie, Ont.

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