That green light
Jeffrey Simpson's column (Keystone A Green Light? Not So Fast – Feb. 5) points out the extensive research and conversation taking place in the United States about this project. A variety of impacts are being considered, including the realistic economic benefits and the environmental impacts.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government seems to be frustrated by Washington's slow movement on this file, but perhaps Ottawa should be taking the time to further and more honestly evaluate the full impacts of such projects, rather than beginning the conversation with the assumption that all pipelines are good. Strong, decisive leadership is great – but only when it is based on the most accurate and complete information possible, rather than on preconceived biases or loyalties.
Elise Sammons, Vancouver
The Keystone XL decision process just might be easier to understand than some think.
Before U.S. President Barack Obama gives any green light, he is going to make sure he doesn't lose the anti-Keystone, predominantly Democratic green voters and their political contribution greenbacks ahead of this fall's midterms. Any green-coloured money generated in the form of jobs, possibly more secure oil supply and transport by those favouring Keystone (not all of whom are Democrats) will be considered and weighed once the election is over.
Okay? It's as green as day to see.
Mary Stanik, Minneapolis
Rash and rasher
Re Rash Constitutional Adventurism (Feb. 5):
Has Justin Trudeau halted the practice of the prime minister appointing senators? No. Has he altered the roles, powers and responsibilities of senators? No. Has he changed the number of senators? No. Ergo, his Senate decision has absolutely nothing to do with constitutional change of any kind. If anything, Gordon Gibson makes the case for not electing senators under any circumstances.
Peter McKenna, chair and professor, political science department, University of Prince Edward Island
I'm a little surprised at Mr. Gibson. I knew him when he lived here and admired him as a man who would suggest some bold political change to a problem that obviously bothers such large majority of people in our country. I don't criticize him for thinking Mr. Trudeau is wrong, but to suggest to that we do nothing is singularly unhelpful.
Henry Wright, Ottawa
Drink more water
Your headline The Value Of Homeopathic Remedies Is Far From Conclusive (Life – Feb. 5) misrepresents an otherwise decent article, and the truth. The value of homeopathic remedies is indeed conclusive: It is zero.
Diana Macpherson, Toronto
Homeopathic remedies do nothing because they are based on principles that are false. Take a substance, dilute it heavily, agitate the solution, repeat, and you've imparted the substance's curative powers to every molecule in the solution, according to practitioners. From the solution, you can then make a pill for what ails you.
But over billions of years, every element, molecule and compound on the planet has been in contact with water at some point, and been subsequently diluted and agitated naturally. So, if homeopathic "science" were real, every mouthful of water we drank would provide us with the curative benefit of every substance on the planet. If you think there's anything to homeopathy, you should skip the expensive pills and drink more water.
Chris Sasaki, Toronto
As a pay-equity specialist for Canada's largest union, I see it as welcome news that labour movement membership is growing (It Still Pays To Be In A Union – But For How Long? – online, Feb. 5). However, it is by no means certain that people join unions purely for the wage premium.
Unionization cuts the wage gap in half for working women, according to Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey. That may help explain why women in Canada have been joining unions at almost twice the average rate since 1997. Similarly, the increasing participation of women in the labour movement could be why union coverage has increased since the Great Recession of 2008.
This resurgence suggests that union members are acting from more than a sense of simple self-interest. Even in hard times, fairness is fostering renewed interest in working together.
Tom Baker, job evaluation representative, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Markham, Ont.
The Glaring Threat From Shale (ROB Magazine – Jan. 31) is based on a study that is inconsistent with ongoing scientific research and industry performance in Canada.
A 2012 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which examines hydraulic fracturing in the United States, says "the production of shale gas and specifically the associated hydraulic fracturing operations, have not materially altered the total GHG emissions from the natural gas sector." A 2012 report commissioned by Natural Resources Canada says "lifecycle GHG emissions of natural gas produced from shale resources are only slightly higher than those of natural gas produced from more conventional sources."
Natural gas is the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon. It burns about 50 per cent cleaner than coal when used in electricity generation. In the U.S., carbon dioxide emissions from energy use were the lowest in 20 years in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration, partially as the result of increased natural gas use to generate electricity.
Canadians want energy solutions focused on a lower carbon future. Natural gas has a vital role in achieving those ends.
Alex Ferguson, vice-president, policy and environment, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Calgary
While I am all in favour with appropriately honouring Sir John A. Macdonald, particularly as we approach the bicentennial of his birth, renaming Toronto's historic Union Station (Union Station Has Earned Right To Keep Name – Feb. 5) is not a venture I support.
"Union Station" itself is a special place name in Toronto. It has been part of this city for more than 150 years and the moniker is lyrical and evocative of the centre of the city and all that surrounds it.
Renaming it after anyone is to turn our back on all that has happened there for decades, whether it was picking up friends and family or remembering the 200,000 people who jammed into it in 1928 to celebrate the return of the Matchless Six women's track and field team from the Olympics. All this happened at Union Station. The name and history should be preserved.
J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto
If Macdonald is to be recognized for his role in the building of the railroad, so should the Chinese workers who put their sweat and blood into making the "national dream" a reality.
If council is seeking a new name, perhaps they should also consider Elijah McCoy, the Canadian-born son of former slaves and a great inventor of the 19th century. McCoy's automatic lubricator for locomotive steam engines greatly improved the efficiency of railway transportation. It's time we honour the "real McCoy"!
Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Toronto