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Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Feb. 23, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Feb. 23, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What readers think

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

Cold comfort

The government is releasing an area in the Arctic amounting to nearly one million hectares for oil exploration (Ottawa Revives Arctic Oil Rush – May 17). Surely the recent BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the earlier Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska are a deterrent sufficient to allow this area to remain free from the threat of a spill – a catastrophe that would put fish and wildlife habitat at risk and harm the way of life of the human population.

More foreign ownership may be a result of this measure, much like the heavy Chinese investment in the tar sands. Pipeline proposals to carry crude to the B.C. coast for shipment to China for refining are another example of lost benefits to Canada, which will assume the risk from spills.

And history tells us there will be spills. The only issue is when, where and how devastating.

Phillip M. Wood, Halifax

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Is there anything, any part of Canada, Stephen Harper won’t put at risk for the mighty petro buck? Petro cash is cold comfort when we’re left trying to contain the damage from an Arctic spill.

Pamela Wong, Vancouver

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Unbearable ‘buzz’

It is unfathomable that there's so much “buzz” about a company like Facebook that really produces nothing of value (Why Facebook's Friends Will Be Winners On IPO Day – Report on Business, May 17). The billions of dollars could be better utilized in industries that actually make something. And don't give me that argument about social networking. That was invented when mankind started talking.

In the same edition, a photograph showed no fewer than eight individuals taking pictures of a dead bear (A Sad End For A Curious Bear). More than likely, some of these photos will show up on Facebook, and for what? Speaking on behalf of that poor bear, these people should be ashamed of themselves.

Don Ungarian, Edmonton

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Wrong target

I am angered by the backlash toward the police actions at the G20 in Toronto (Scathing Report Brings Out Defensive Police Chief – May 17). They faced impossible odds. The real inquiry should be directed toward the so-called bright light who figured holding such an event in the middle of a major city was a wise idea.

Previous sites were remote, less easily accessed by troublemakers, often with only one way to the site. The nonsense in 2010 was entirely predictable. I’m curious to know how anyone suggests the situation could have been handled successfully.

Karen Shouldice, Toronto

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And so it goes

The Conservative government’s EI changes are another example of how government has undermined equality in the name of fiscal prudence (Help Wanted: Ottawa Withholding EI Reform Details – May 17). Over and over again, the same pattern is repeated: Cut back taxes on corporations and the wealthy, then use the resulting budget shortfall as an excuse to cut social spending.

When employment insurance is harder to qualify for, more people slip economically and the gap widens. The federal government always resorts to the easy rhetoric of blame, implying recipients of social programs are undeserving. What is also implied is that the ongoing tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations (another kind of social program) are somehow merited.

This budget proves the Tories believe that the 1 per cent deserve economic assistance, while the rest of us just need a kick in the pants. And so inequality in Canada deepens.

Nathaniel Poole, Victoria

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Immigration strategy

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney should acknowledge that immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments.

Ontario is the No. 1 destination for newcomers to Canada. We’re the country’s engine of growth. In a few years, newcomers will account for all of Ontario’s net labour market growth. For immigration to work in Canada, it has to work in Ontario. Ottawa needs to work with us.

Ontario’s concern is that the federal government has been overhauling the system without consulting the provinces. Unilateral federal decisions and funding cuts are part of the reason our newcomers are not reaching their full potential. An immigration partnership with the federal government is necessary to improve economic outcomes for immigrants.

Shared long-term goals must be balanced with short-term priorities. That’s why Ontario is developing its first long-term immigration strategy.

Charles Sousa, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

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Not a class act

It is one thing for protesters to march in the streets to state their cause; it is another to prevent students from entering their college or university or to disrupt classes and intimidate students (Charest Suspends Classes For ‘A Pause’ – May 17). One of the greatest sins is to deny a person their education. These protesters should be banned from enrolling in any Quebec university.

Adam Peleshaty, Stonewall, Man.

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As a former professor at McGill, I would like to ask: Where are the parents of these students? What are they saying to their children?

Christopher Eriksson, Campbellville, Ont.

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Let’s talk, civilly

Re Western Premiers Fire Back At Muclair In A Mud Fight (May 17): I am disappointed NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s comments about the oil sands have set off such a frenzy. This is an opportunity for us to have a real, substantive debate about what kind of economy we want to have in Canada.

Is it important to have a diversified, value-added economy? Or is it better to focus on exporting raw materials? What of carbon emissions and global warming? Politicians (including Mr. Mulcair) must stop the name-calling and stop framing it as an interregional vote-getting ploy.

Pundits and politicians are always looking for the next dramatic mud-slinging contest, but for once, let’s raise the level of discourse. Let’s have this important discussion.

Kamal Reilly, Toronto

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More than doctors

This is not just about doctors, and it’s not just about heath care (Medical-Fee Rollback ‘Not Acceptable,’ MDs Tell McGuinty – May 17). It’s about fairness, and it’s about the future of our society.

The Ontario government is setting two dangerous precedents. One is withdrawing the right to bargain for a collective agreement; the other is clawing back fees for services provided in good faith.

This threatens to set back labour relations by decades. It has also ensured that the government no longer has a willing partner in health-care reform. You can’t collaborate with people you can’t trust. And in the long run, that will hurt us all.

Hershl Berman, MD, Toronto

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Off the top

Re Crazy Horse Dancers Refuse To Go Topless (Report on Business – May 17): Shouldn’t one of the strikers’ demands be that their pensions be vested?

Peter D. Hutcheon, Toronto

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