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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the province has "been let down" in its efforts to secure the Trans Mountain pipeline.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

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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Pipelines are/aren’t us

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is obviously not seeing clearly due to the intense smoke from B.C. wildfires affecting much of the West (Alberta Ditches Ottawa’s Carbon Plan After Court Blocks Pipeline, Aug. 31). How much more evidence does one need to accept that dependence on fossil fuel production and transport through pipelines, and increased ocean-tanker traffic – including the great risk of spills – just adds to the problem of climate change?

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Ms. Notley’s spiteful backlash in the face of such a problem has no justifiable basis while those residing in Calgary, like my daughter, are struggling just to breathe, hoping there won’t be long-term health effects as a result of the alarmingly bad air quality.

Canadians’ “economic well-being,” achieved while having become too dependent on exporting a waning, ruinous commodity, has far less relative importance than such essentials as clean water – and clean air.

Leslie Cochrane, Ancaster, Ont.

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Perhaps Premier Rachel Notley is overreacting. If the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Trans Mountain expansion were to be understood to mean that the duty to consult First Nations guarantees each and every one a veto over national projects, Canada would face a constitutional crisis of the first order. Clearly an issue of that importance would have to be referred to the Supreme Court, which might be expected to act with appropriate urgency.

Meanwhile, the question of the security of tanker traffic in the Gulf Islands and the adequacy of the provisions put in place by the Trudeau government subsequent to the original submission put forward under the Harper administration can be studied by technical experts. These are matters that can be resolved.

Nicholas Tracy, Fredericton

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Welcome (?) to Canada

Asylum-seeking is an ancient problem with no modern solution. As a practitioner in the field of immigration and refugee services, I see the good, the bad, and the ugly in this area. The humanitarian concerns of Allan Rock and Lloyd Axworthy are certainly well founded (We Disregard Asylum Seekers At Great Peril To Our Humanity – Aug. 27). I come, however, from Lebanon, a tortured land which experienced the results of the influx of millions of refugees, primarily from Palestine post-1967 and Syria since 2011. Lebanon buckled under the weight. It is yet to recover.

Canada, to be sure, is no Lebanon. But a caveat must be stated: No matter how prosperous and powerful a nation is, an orderly, lawful and manageable asylum system must be adhered to, otherwise word will go out to the world that Canada can be taken advantage of. That would be terrible for all concerned in this country, including the asylum-seekers.

Processing refugee claims is not cheap. It is costing millions to process those who are not crossing Canada’s border legally and simply shopping for the easiest country to get into. In the end, humanism must be balanced with the national interest. There are limits to every good intention.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, immigration consultant, Ottawa

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The authors have it right. We live in a world that can be ended in a day through nuclear Armageddon, or in a century through the destruction of the climate we require to exist. The best hope to avoid this is to embrace the fact that we are all equal in terms of fundamental human rights, and that discrimination causes problems rather than solves them. If we as a species can do this, the future is bright. If not, not so much.

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Chris Marriott, Chelsea, Que.

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The authors tell us that those seeking asylum are at the heart of the refugee system, then refer to our obligations under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. But asylum seekers are not refugees. The heart of the convention is that a refugee outside their own country and fearing to return to it, cannot be sent back there. The convention does not condone illegal entry unless the individual has entered directly from the country of persecution. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees does not condone asylum shopping. It is expected that those fleeing persecution should seek asylum in the first country of arrival.

The asylum-seeker problem is an international phenomenon and threatens countries’ ability to deal with real refugees – most of whom are women and children – living in desperate conditions in camps around the world. They need help, not lectures about xenophobia and the rise of strident nationalism by former ministers who should know better.

James Bissett, head of the Canadian Immigration Service (1985-1990); Ottawa

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Welcoming asylum seekers is an essential part of our humanity, and indeed our identity as Canadians. But reducing human migration to an international numbers game is naive and neglects the forces driving right-wing political extremism in developed nations. I’ll wager that Canadians are more concerned with how effectively migrants participate in and contribute to Canada’s social fabric than they are with how many have been admitted.

There is certainly no call for xenophobic thinking on matters related to immigration (legal or otherwise), but governments need to recognize that individual Canadians bear the responsibility and cost for accepting and integrating migrants into their communities.

That is where the seeds of right-wing political extremism are sown and should be the policy focus for all levels of government. On this, the esteemed authors appear to have missed the mark.

Tom Phillips, Toronto

PR is not a miracle cure

Re Stand For Something (Aug. 27): A letter to the editor offers another miraculous cure through proportional-representation voting, this time for the divisions in the Conservative Party. Current “Big Tent” parties in the first-past-the-post system offer voices to many ideologies with the very good chance that their party will come to power. Under PR, who knows how many breakaway parties would result for every different group, such as libertarians, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives etc.? Splintering the vote to single-digit representation in Parliament will not give power to those diverse viewpoints.

The situation between Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and breakaway MP Maxime Bernier is a problem of leadership and strong personality that no electoral system will ever solve.

Anthony Gariano, Ottawa

A street near you

Your Drive section article about cyclists not “obeying the rules” has a cyclist pointing out that “although it’s not legal to ride on the sidewalk in most cities, sometimes it’s less scary than the road.” As someone who occasionally uses the sidewalk for, er, walking, I find that justification a bit scary too (Driving Concerns – Aug. 31).

Then, in the same section in Road Test, we learned of a car touchscreen where “you need to take your eyes off the road and dive into menus to accomplish even simple tasks.”

Don’t worry about global warming or the proliferation of guns: There are enough dangers on a street near you.

Dave Ashby, Toronto