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The Globe and Mail

Nov. 5: All that oil – and other letters to the editor

All that oil

On Monday, I read that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is warning us that we must immediately reduce and ultimately eliminate our use of fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic climate change by the end of the century (Dire Warning On Climate Change, Nov. 3).

Now, I read that thanks to lower gas prices, sales of smaller cars are down and sales of big SUVs are up (Lower Gas Prices Fuel Shift Away From Smaller Cars – Report on Business, Nov. 4).

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When will governments introduce an appropriate tax regime to save us from our own folly?

David Holmes, Ottawa


Re All That Oil Won't Move Itself (Nov. 3): Your editorial missed the mark on both the domestic and international implications of TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline.

Statistics Canada data show the unconventional oil and gas sector (primarily the oil sands) contributed 2 per cent to national GDP in 2013. Further, the bitumen transported via Energy East is unlikely to be refined in Canada, given lucrative heavy oil markets in the U.S., Asia and Europe.

With a proposed capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day, filling Energy East would significantly increase Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. Canada can't have it both ways – building new infrastructure to enable oil-sands expansion runs counter to the investments we need to be making now to ensure a climate-safe future and resilient economy.

Erin Flanagan, analyst, Pembina Institute, Calgary

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Here's hoping

Re Fundraising Clout Gives Rich Schools Wider Edge – Nov. 3): What if I told you my neighbourhood is planning pizza lunches to raise funds to fix our local subway station? That we're considering a funfair or magazine drive to raise money to fix the potholes that plague our community's streets?

Ridiculous? Perhaps. Some day, maybe fundraising for public schools – which ought to be considered as integral to our public infrastructure as transit or roads – will also be considered ridiculous.

Here's hoping.

Krista Wylie, Toronto

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It's morally right

Margaret Wente writes that universal daycare targets "parents with kids under 6" (Whose Bribes Do You Like? – Nov. 4).

Wrong: Universal daycare targets all Canadian children.

It evens the playing field for poor children and for all parents who want to work and raise families. It is as morally right as universal health care and education.

Kim Echlin, Toronto


Genius loci, M.I.A.?

I was amazed to learn that it is possible under Canadian law to obtain a patent on a human gene (Hospital Launches Legal Challenge To Patents On Genes – Nov. 4). The notion is so preposterous, it is hard to imagine that anyone even considered it.

It is perfectly reasonable to grant a patent on a technique or process based on the properties of a gene, but to grant ownership rights over the gene itself is simply idiotic. Who could be so ignorant as to equate a phenomenon of nature with a human invention? Who could be so dense as not to foresee the adverse consequences of such a policy?

Oh, right – that would be the Parliament of Canada.

The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and its lawyers deserve our thanks for initiating this legal action. It is greatly to be hoped that we can rely on the wisdom of a well-informed court to correct an incredible mistake.

Douglas Campbell, Vancouver


Roaming rates, eh

A telecom startup offers Canadians an alternative to the big three? Count me incredibly pessimistic (Canadian Upstart Takes Aim At Cutting Roaming Rates – Report on Business, Nov. 3).

The Canadian way doesn't stop at strong beer, puck-slapping and a cup of Tims. Unfortunately for KnowRoaming, a lesser-known Canadian tradition is protecting our big three telecoms.

Yes, recent regulation has seen legislators take steps to make the marketplace fairer, but let's not confuse these steps with anything more than a bone. I lived in the U.S.; I know what quality telecom options are like. So, as much I am rooting for these 28 employees, Canadians have repeatedly read about entrants into the marketplace, only to have them added to the pile of frustrated companies – failed or stunted.

William Trieu, Toronto


Turmoil in Ukraine

Re Poroshenko Threatens Action Against 'Criminals That Crown Themselves' (Oct. 4): While the reports coming out of Ukraine are anything but hopeful, I am still waiting for the popular Western press to delve into the issues the citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk faced with respect to going to the polls. What is the case for separation? Why is there a separatist movement?

While convoys of Russian munitions moving across the Ukrainian border and Vladimir Putin's meddling continually take centre stage, the reasons why this area of Ukraine is so determined to leave remain muted. This seems paramount, given the imminent breakdown of the ceasefire.

Robert Milan, Winnipeg


There is no reason why the separatist regions should have adhered to an election date set unilaterally by Kiev (And Then Putin Took Another Bite – editorial, Nov. 4). Moreover, it is absurd to believe that the leaderships in Donetsk and Lugansk should have allowed supervisors from western Ukraine who have labelled them terrorists and have shelled them indiscriminately to come in and conduct their election for them.

Yes, there were multiple problems with the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could have ameliorated many of them by offering to send monitors.

But the notion that, somehow, an election could be run normally in the circumstances of a raging civil war and accompanying hatreds generated over many months by name-calling and blame-casting from all sides is nonsense.

J.L. Black, Barrie, Ont.


I dream of synergy

Re Traffic Light Synergy An Impossible Dream (Nov. 3): Rather than "throw another $10- or $20-million at it," why not reduce congestion at a profit? Put a bunch of our new police recruits on Toronto streets during rush hour and:

1) Ticket drivers who enter an intersection when there's no chance of getting through before the light turns red (an epidemic all over downtown);

2) Ticket vehicles stopped at the curb with flashers on while someone gets a coffee, pizza, whatever;

3) Ticket taxis that stop virtually anywhere to pick up or drop off;

4) Ticket courier vehicles – enough said about that.

Revenue might even exceed salary costs; any profit could help pay for traffic light synergy.

Would Rob Ford consider this more war on the car?

Don Willoughby, Toronto

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