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A dump truck works near an oil sands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., earlier this month. (JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A dump truck works near an oil sands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., earlier this month. (JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

June 7: This week’s Talking Point – climate change – and letters to the editor Add to ...

From Barack Obama’s pledge to cut coal-plant emissions to Desmond Tutu’s dismissal of Alberta oil as ‘filth,’ readers, print and digital, zero in on climate change

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Re U.S. Urges Canada To Act On Climate Change (June 3): Brace yourselves. The carbon tax is coming.

Alex Antoniou, Toronto

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Margaret Wente suggests that no one, with the possible exception of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, is contemplating a significant national carbon tax because “the impact on the economy and ordinary Canadians would be excruciating” (We’re All Climate Hypocrites – June 5). Sadly, she’s probably right. Future generations will pay the ultimate price because of our generation’s reluctance to limit our material comforts for the sake of human well-being beyond our lifetimes.

Corporations oppose significant carbon taxes because of their self-interest in maximizing profit and minimizing cost. Governments are disinclined to lead in long-term environmental protection because their terms of office are brief and elections are won with promises of bread and circuses. Consequently, the public gets lip service on climate action and a lot of spin on the economic benefits of the fossil fuel industry.

However great those benefits might be, they must surely pale beside the suffering likely to be visited on subsequent generations because of our failure to act.

David Greer, Victoria

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The U.S. move to cut emissions from coal plants by 30 per cent by 2030 is news I had to share with my kids. At today’s “Cool It For The Kids” children’s climate-change rally on Parliament Hill, I will look at their generation with a glimmer of hope, knowing their pleas may not be in vain.

Mary Lapner, Ottawa

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The bleeding-heart environment loons will be happy about this. What about the thousands of hard-working men and women who depend on coal for a living? Shame on the Obama administration for its over-the-top attack on hard-working Americans.

Rob Magri, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

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Canada should be the leader when it comes to proactively combatting climate change.

I guess we should follow the lead of the U.S., but it is disappointing that Stephen Harper has done so much harm, and so much backpedalling on this issue.

Rhonda Hoffman Sorochan, Edmonton

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If today’s society had existed at the end of the Ice Age, no doubt we’d be blamed for that, too. Polluting the Earth and poisoning the atmosphere needs to stop, but to claim we are solely responsible for the Earth’s climate is ridiculous. The Earth’s gonna do what the Earth’s gonna do.

We need to focus on changing our ways because it’s the right thing to do, not because we’re killing the planet. The planet will be fine. It’s us that won’t.

Megan Dinner, London, Ont.

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Sorry folks, I know Barack Obama is trying hard to appeal to his “base” but it’s all posturing, and meantime the jobs “issue” remains unaddressed for many U.S. cities and towns – and China and India just keep churning out the pollution and the goods, laughing all the way.

Lynn Randall Foster, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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The oil sands are an important part of the Canadian economy and can’t be abandoned with a snap of the fingers. On the other hand, throwing aside environmental concerns and bailing on the Kyoto accord just so Stephen Harper can support the oil companies in his home province is not the right strategy for Canada.

Robert Freele, Hong Kong

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s recently calling the products of the oil sands “filth” and the basis of their development “greed” will strike the hard-headed realists among (and within) us as quaint and idealistic (Tutu Calls Alberta Oil ‘Filth’ – June 2). But what if we consider him as asking of us a fundamental change of perspective? Maybe then we can see that our “need” for ever more energy as our first question or assumption, and “sustainable energy” as the mere means to that end is, indeed, the real problem.

David Checkland, Toronto

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Desmond Tutu criticizes Canada’s resource industries, yet ignores the fact that South Africa is, per capita, one of the heaviest consumers of coal. Let’s stop criticizing the other guy and get on with reducing energy consumption of all forms by all countries.

Claus Witko, Priddis, Alta.

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There are more than 600 “First Nations” in Canada; many of them have set their faces against pipeline construction. How many will get a kick at the cat, I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be surprising to wake up one day and find the cat dead – a process in which Desmond Tutu will have played a not insignificant part.

Colin Proudman, Toronto

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I have lived a law-abiding 68 years on this planet, have never been arrested, have paid my taxes, voted in every election, even donated blood regularly. But I am ready to get in front of those bulldozers to stop this climate crime (How To Stop A Pipeline Even If It’s Government-Approved – Report on Business, May 31).

Thousands of Canadians will join me. Clayoquot Sound was only a skirmish. This is war, war against the greedy, short-sighted advocates of dirty oil who seek to rob our children of their heritage.

Tom Needham, Haliburton, Ont.

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the Editor

Death by doctor: Proceed

Re Quebec Allows Doctor-Assisted Death (June 6): Kudos to Quebec for its positive action on right-to-die legislation. The rest of Canada should follow suit, although it will unfortunately take a while.

Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper may fight a delaying action, but this is going to happen in Canada sooner or later. They should get on the right side of history and work to ensure the legislation has all the appropriate safeguards.

Time for some leadership.

Peter D. Hambly, Hanover, Ont.

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Death by doctor: Caution

Re Assisted Suicide: Context Is Everything (June 6): I applaud oncologist Harvey Schipper’s advice. I wish I’d known him 10 years ago when my mother fell ill. Without notifying her family, she was taken off food and hydration by medical staff, deemed, I presume, fit for death. I kept her alive using sponges by her bed to feed her water 10 hours a day. She recovered and lived two more years.

There will always be people who will take advantage of this situation, as there were even before assisted suicide was on the table. I urge caution.

Mary Collins, Toronto

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Salary and safety

Various letters this week debated how much police are paid in relation to how dangerous their jobs are. Of course, police deserve the safest possible working conditions, as do others in dangerous occupations, such as nurses and loggers. We all mourn the loss of the RCMP officers in Moncton. Mounties deserve to be paid fairly, as do all workers. (Listening, CEOs?)

But I struggle to see the relationship between salary and safety, unless officers intend to hold up their wallets or investment portfolios in front of their assailants.

Melinda Munro, Windsor, Ont.

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GM’s neglect

Re Study Blames GM’s Culture For Recall Woes (Report on Business, June 6): So the results of an internal investigation at GM regarding faulty ignition switches revealed deep-rooted patterns of incompetence and neglect.

However, top executives were not aware of any of this and are therefore not to blame.

It seems to me these senior decision-makers were all asleep at the switch. When will they get fired?

Fiorenza Hawryluk, Toronto

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