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Illusion of solvency

Selling the government's shares in General Motors is a bogus way to balance the budget (Tories Help Balance Budget By Selling GM Shares – April 7). It's like selling the family silver to pay the mortgage, it only creates an illusion of solvency. Next year, the deficit will be back to haunt the government – but the Conservatives won't care, since by then the election will have taken place.

Garth M. Evans, Vancouver


California North

Re Like A Carbon Tax, But Much Worse (April 7): Margaret Wente is right about a carbon tax being better than cap-and-trade.

But her caricature of California's problems is laughable: She suggests Californians are outraged by our Governor's using money from pricing carbon (a public bad) to fund infrastructure projects and poverty-reduction programs (economists would call this good policy), and that we are feeling the pinch of inflated gas prices (I just filled up my Prius for $18).

What we're really concerned about here is water. Our drought is now the worst in 1,200 years, thanks in large part to – you guessed it – climate change. California is taking climate change seriously and our emissions have been falling for the better part of a decade. Ontario becoming California-North? Sounds good to me.

Matt Burgess, Santa Barbara, Calif.


The federal government should step in quickly with a national carbon tax before the provinces try to sell emission permits in a short-sighted, misguided cash grab to balance their budgets. Canada needs a national strategy, not a patchwork of widely divergent provincial regulations.

Peter Legein, Toronto


Who is on trial?

It's become clear that whether Mike Duffy is innocent or guilty is secondary (Public Will Have Own Duffy Trial – April 7). The media is focused on whether the Prime Minister's Office is guilty of something, with the possible bonus that Stephen Harper knew something. This circus is media-driven with the unofficial backing of the opposition, played out against the backdrop of an approaching election. Yet we wonder why people are turning away in droves from bothering to vote.

Jeff Spooner, Kinburn, Ont.


The prospect of a Senate scandal being Stephen Harper's undoing is just more hyperbole in a continuing narrative portraying the Conservatives as an entity to be feared and not to be trusted.

If the public is paying as much attention to the Senate issue as Lawrence Martin gives them credit for, it won't go unnoticed that the alleged sums involved are quite paltry in comparison to Adscam (The Entire Harper Era Is On Trial – April 7).

Principles aside, $90,000 does not invoke the same level of scorn or shock value as the millions that were at issue in the sponsorship scandal.

Darcy Charles Lewis, Calgary


TSO's sour note

Re TSO Drops Pianist Over Anti-Ukraine Comments – April 7): Since when is the political opinion of a musician any business of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra? How does Valentina Lisitsa playing piano, which she does magnificently, make the TSO a stage "for opinions that some believe to be deeply offensive"?

What did those who object to her tweets think she was going to do? Stop playing and hand out pamphlets? Lead a protest march at intermission?

Can we assume that all of the musicians who perform for the symphony are politically correct (or else)?

P.A. Stewart, Inglewood, Ont.


I for one was going to hear Valentina Lisitsa play Rachmaninoff, not her tweets. If "some" find her offensive, no one is forcing them to go to her concerts.

The TSO at least was gracious enough, despite its policy, to refund my tickets, as well as my subscription to the next season. But the truly right thing to do would be for TSO president Jeff Melanson to apologize and reinstate her appearance next season.

Andrew Leith Macrae, Toronto


Surplus population

Those people who are not having kids are selfish? With climate change, pollution and the rapid degradation of our planet, I always thought it was those still having kids – especially more than one – who were selfish (Whose Business? – letters, April 7). Wouldn't the world be a better place if fewer than seven billion people were making demands on the ecosystem?

We should be thanking those who don't add to the overpopulation problem. Instead, society labels them as "selfish, shallow and self-absorbed."

Maybe those terms should be reserved for those who are adding to the problem.

S. I. Petersen, Nanaimo, B.C.


Raccoons: Resistance is futile

Re City Looks To Outsmart Raccoons With New Green Bins (April 7): Rather than "outsmarting" raccoons, it's time to reduce their population, especially in Toronto, "the raccoon capital of the world."

In downtown Toronto, we are overrun by raccoons. They defecate on our decks and all over the back garden (especially the vegetable garden), eat into the roof, and live under the porch.

They fight in the middle of night and wake us up. They come right up on the patio when we are eating. Their feces carry a dangerous disease. We have tried all the various methods of raccoon proofing, with little success (but a lot of wasted money).

Other jurisdictions have culled raccoons, sterilized the population or relocated them.

What is Toronto doing?

Wasting money on keeping them out of green bins!

Linda Briskin, Toronto


About your green bin story, yeah, yeah, we raccoons have heard it all before. Frankly, even the most intelligent humans have admitted the futility of taking us on.

You humans have devised many ways of protecting your garbage, and all of them have failed, according to Michael Pettit, a York University psychologist who has studied our behaviour.

His colleague, Suzanne MacDonald, recently videotaped rural raccoons and us urban raccoons while we toyed with containers baited with cat food.

While both sides of our family readily approached familiar containers, our country cousins took a long time to go near the new ones. But we city types attacked the new receptacles the moment she turned her back.

Some experts, according to Bill Dickens, an economist at Northeastern University, think that as your human engineers invent more complex latches and levers, you may actually be training us to open them and even increasing our overall intelligence.

So give it your best shot, humans. Even now, we're sharpening our flexible claws and organizing advance teams so we're ready for the first green bin pickup involving the "improved" latching device.

As members of the Urban Raccoon Association's technical working committee (a.k.a. green bin busters), we can't wait for the smorgasbord to begin.

Sent on our behalf by Toronto human, Evelyne Michaels


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