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Wallonia First Minister Paul Magnette says his government won’t support CETA’s ratification without changes to how disputes settled. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)
Wallonia First Minister Paul Magnette says his government won’t support CETA’s ratification without changes to how disputes settled. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

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March 28: Wallonia’s ‘sabotage.’ Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Wallonia’s ‘sabotage’

Re Wallonia Warns Of New Challenge To Canada-EU Trade Deal (March 27): Wallonia First Minister Paul Magnette is out of step with the rest of the world, not only the European Union.

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) treaties number over 2,600 worldwide. They protect foreign investors from unfair treatment by states which encourage foreign investors, but then change the rules and unfairly harm them.

These treaties have existed since the 1960s and have been a boon to states seeking the investments. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) modernized the dispute-settlement chapter at the EU’s demand to a court-like regime, instead of the normal private international arbitration, adding an appeal court as well.

That a small region of one of 27 EU states can sabotage a world-leading trade and investment treaty cries out to the EU’s leading members to flex their muscles and get their act together at the European Union. Now.

Michael Robinson, Toronto

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Provoke, promote

Re McGill Principal Defends Necessity Of Administrator’s Resignation (March 27): To justify the (arm-twisted?) resignation of Andrew Potter as director of McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada, university principal Suzanne Fortier says the position leading the institute “is not a role to provoke, but to promote good discussion.”

I guess the likes of Socrates, Thomas More, Galileo, Martin Luther or Martin Luther King need not apply for the vacancy. Fortunately for Dr. Potter, punishment for provocative academics no longer includes the forced ingestion of poison, beheading, burning at the stake or assassination.

David Patterson, Ottawa

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The Potter issue is not about academic freedom at all, but about administrative responsibility.

Andrew Potter was in a position of authority, in fact about the nature of Canada. Bashing a whole province because of an ill-managed snowstorm is not only silly, but in his position, irresponsible. Shall we so condemn Ontario for its management of energy?

Quebec “deficient in social capital”? If anything, the opposite is more correct, although better worded as: abundant in human spirit.

The sometimes not-so-hidden agenda, that Quebec is somehow inferior, plays to prejudices that demean all that is wonderful about this place.

Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies, McGill University

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In her letter to the editor, McGill principal Suzanne Fortier writes that Andrew Potter “resigned from his position as director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.” But Dr. Potter himself put it rather differently: “The Institute will best be served by my resignation.”

This discrepancy in English can best be explained by an expression in French (my translation): Dr. Potter “was resigned.” Had he penned a shoddy piece on B.C., he’d still have his job as director. Shame on my alma mater and its principal for succumbing to the firestorm in Quebec.

Norman Spector, Victoria

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Learning to govern

Re Dangers Lurk In Government Plan To Change Parliamentary Rules (March 27): After the cancellation of the vote on President Donald Trump’s health-care bill, Republican House Leader Paul Ryan mused that his party was just learning to govern.

It would appear that our Prime Minister has taken a page from the playbook of former prime minister Stephen Harper by trying to rush through new parliamentary rules. Although the Liberals are perhaps also still learning to govern, it is disappointing that they have already forgotten how they felt when Mr. Harper unilaterally changed election laws with the Fair Elections Act.

As Mr. Trump is discovering, although he is the President, he isn’t the government.

The Liberals and Justin Trudeau have a majority, but they are only one part of the Parliament.

Ann Sullivan, Peterborough, Ont.

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Tapping into housing

Re Budget Miss: What Ottawa Should Have Done (Report on Business, March 25): It’s true that in the 2017 budget, the federal government allocated most of the $11.2-billion for housing to the social and affordable housing sector. But after decades of underinvestment in social housing stock, this should be seen as good news.

For more than 600,000 Canadian households, social housing is the only means to provide a roof over their heads. Without social housing, how would these households complete their education? Hold down a job? Be able to raise their families? Access the health and social services needed to improve their personal lot?

Social housing is a stepping stone for families and individuals and who require affordable housing and the subsequent services and support that are provided. There can be no greater productivity gain for Canadians looking to move into the middle class.

Critics who argue that social housing may not lead to productivity gains for the 1 per cent or big business may be right.

When productivity is seen in a more inclusive light, however, it is clear that social housing is a key component, one that is likely to provide productivity gains for millions of other Canadians.

Jeff Morrison, executive director, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association

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As a retired investor, I am pleased the Finance Minister is not going to raise the capital gains tax on my puny stock holdings.

As a concerned citizen of Canada, I am worried about affordable housing. So why not raise bazillions of tax dollars by putting a capital gains tax on the sale of a primary residence? That just might solve the runaway housing price explosion. Let see, a 25-per-cent levy on a trillion dollars of untapped wealth … that should balance the books.

Michael Harrison, Montreal

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Uncle Norm’s genius

Norman Breakey, the Canadian who invented the paint roller, is a legend in my family, even to the generation born too late to know him personally (Invented In Canada – Folio, March 25).

He was married to my grandmother’s sister and the roller brush was only one of his projects, and not necessarily his favourite. (Uncle Norm owned and lived in a small apartment building on Astley Avenue in Toronto, and worked on the prototypes for the paint roller in the basement, having collected discarded old sofas for the coverings.)

During the Second World War, when gas was rationed, he experimented with many potions to get cars running. Supper was often interrupted in our house when the phone would ring and my dad would be summoned to fetch Uncle Norm, whose car on one occasion was on fire on the Leaside Bridge.

He was a gourmet before it was even a word in our vocabulary, a fantastic story teller and a wonderful presence in our lives.

Forgotten? Not too bloody likely in our family!

Wendy Campbell, Toronto

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