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Conrad Black and his wife Barbara Amiel on the grounds of their Toronto home May 4, 2012. Black was released from a Florida jail earlier in the day and returned to Canada. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Conrad Black and his wife Barbara Amiel on the grounds of their Toronto home May 4, 2012. Black was released from a Florida jail earlier in the day and returned to Canada. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

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May 7: Letters to the editor Add to ...

On immigration

Immigration will not solve the aging population dilemma ( The Great Expansion – Focus, May 5). The 6.6:1 ratio of workers to retirees from 1971 existed for the same reasons that we now face a retirement bulge. Affluent societies around the globe are naturally moving to a replacement birth rate, and new immigrants will follow that trend. The pension system must fundamentally change to support a lower ratio.

Also, employers appear to be exceedingly unwilling to train workers or to pay taxes so that the public sector can train them. Unless we address training and making areas of labour shortage more attractive for Canadians, the children of new immigrants are likely to mirror the behaviour of current Canadians.

Mark Wolfgram, Ottawa


Orthodox economic theory suggests that price flexibility ensures economic efficiency, where the latter is considered an end in itself rather than a means to an end (that is, people’s well-being). Thus, orthodox economists oppose the implementation of minimum-wage legislation since it might create inefficiencies in the form of unemployment (that is, an excess supply of labour).

Curiously, when labour markets exert upward pressure on wages, these same economists call for government intervention to increase the supply of labour through greater immigration. But how can they project that a million jobs will go unfilled across Canada between now and 2021? I would suggest exerting intellectual consistency here and conclude that price flexibility will clear all markets – including this “excess demand for labour.”

Of course, we must also conclude that, in the absence of government intervention, by 2021 the income of the average Canadian worker will be greatly improved – an outcome to celebrate given that the share of labour income in total income has continuously fallen for three decades.

Gustavo Indart, senior lecturer, economics department,

University of Toronto


Economist Ross Finnie claims that country of birth of parents is a better indicator of whether a child will attend university, rather than the parents’ level of education. However, the article also informs us that among those in their prime working years, 35 per cent of immigrants hold a degree compared to 22 per cent of those born in Canada.

Is Mr. Finnie seeing something that the rest of us are missing?

David McGrath, Kingston


The international trade in human capital could scarcely be more competitive, according to The Globe’s weekend editorial ( Canada Has To Actively Recruit – May 5). It says Canada has to streamline its creaky immigration system so the highly skilled entrepreneurial immigrants the country needs can come here quicker and easier.

But not a word about the ethics of accepting immigrants from countries that can hardly afford to lose them. Surely a pair of South African MBAs, educated at South African expense, could find plenty to fix economically in their homeland while discharging some of the responsibility they have to their funders.

If Canada wants skilled labour then Canadians should pay for those already here to acquire such skills, not scrounge from other jurisdictions, particularly those places that can least afford to lose their best and brightest.

David Chilton, Toronto


One down

I could not help noticing the juxtaposition on Saturday’s front of The Return Of Conrad Black and What Canada Needs: 1 Million New Immigrants (May 5).

Well, I guess it’s a start.

Daniel Phelan, Kingston


A shared condition

Marsha Lederman moved me to tears with her compassion and truth-seeking in The Collision (Arts – May 5). She bravely and beautifully acknowledges the pain and woundedness inherent in our shared human condition. I admire her grace and honesty.

Terry Vatrt, Victoria


Others threatened

Shimon Peres ranks increasingly implausible paranoia against real threats when he says, “We are the only country that is threatened to be destroyed” ( Even A Dove Likes To Have A Deterrent – Focus, May 5).

While Israel has proven amply able to defend itself militarily, the Maldives face imminent destruction due to climate change. The people of Taiwan might beg to differ, and Somalians would perhaps judge the point moot.

Brian Lowry, Fredericton


One little thing

Jeff Rubin makes some excellent points in his chapter on Denmark ( The Danish Paradox – Business, May 5). He also overlooks a single important issue: human nature.

He writes, “There is nothing stopping civic governments in North America from doing the same,” seeming to mean hereby “promoting a bicycle culture to replace the automobile culture.” In our democracy, no politician can hope to win power by promising a better life in the future for higher taxes now. We, mankind, are masters of self-delusion.

Denmark never had oil or gas, and after all the oaks had been chopped down long, long ago, had to import fuel. No politician could ignore that reality. The Netherlands is very similar to Denmark except for one big difference: It had huge oil and gas reserves. In Denmark, the bicycle still reigns supreme while its use declined in the Netherlands (except for recreation).

The Japanese are reducing electricity usage because they are too scared to turn the nuclear power stations back on. It remains to be seen what will happen there. In North America, urban sprawl will eventually slow down and stop as the cost of living in and maintaining these monster cities cripples us. Mr. Rubin is right: The pocket book is a powerful behaviour motivator, but do not rely on the politicians to be wise. They only gain and retain power by being crafty.

Boudewyn van Oort, Victoria


WWJD? Not that

As a lifelong Christian and student of the Bible, what I find offensive about a T-shirt saying “Life is wasted without Jesus” is that it is inconsistent with Jesus’s life and teaching (Faith At Tee Time – Letters, May 5).

He never suggested any life was wasted, although he would sharp criticism to some. And whom did he rebuke? The very religious people of his day who thought they could judge who was worthy and who was worthless. These same religious people criticized Jesus himself for socializing with the so-called sinners.

Rev. Glenn Cooper, Pictou, N.S.


Tusk, tusk

I found the home office in Brawny Modernism, Hard-Hat Heritage (Real Estate – May 4), decorated with immense elephant tusks, to be somewhat ironic and very problematic.

If real, the look is repugnant. The danger of promoting tusks in a design concept is that, faux or not, they attract interest and help legitimize the poaching trade. According to African elephant expert Winnie Kiiru, last year was the worst slaughter of elephants the world has seen in 23 years, and 2012 is proving to be worse.

Linda Bronfman, co-founder, Everyone Loves Elephants, Toronto

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