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Saving, tax free

Re Targeted Politics, Targeted Benefits (editorial, April 8): You say that Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that the tax free savings account program (TFSA) is "regressive overall" and "benefits skew to higher income … households." So what?

Higher income households are paying a very significant share of the total tax burden already. Why are people at the higher income levels not entitled to some modest tax relief, relative to the significant tax relief enjoyed by lower income earners by virtue of their markedly lower tax rates and dollar contributions?

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You cite information that the PBO estimates that doubling the TFSA limit will cost federal and provincial governments $39.3-billion a year in 2080. Really? Most economists are about as accurate as weather forecasters in making short-term predictions. But 65 years down the road, this is what doubling TFSA limit now is going to cost?

John Morrison, Burlington, Ont.

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The proposed increase in the TFSA is a terrible idea. It would benefit the very people who need it least. The average person cannot afford to contribute $11,000 per year to a TFSA. Over time, the reduced tax payments from the rich would increase the load on the poor.

Ken Gregory, Guelph, Ont.

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When voters judge …

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Re Who Is On Trial (letters, April 8): "Principles aside?" Lack of principle is where this sorry case began, when Stephen Harper appointed Mike Duffy as a senator for Prince Edward Island.

Due diligence would have revealed that Mr. Duffy had lived in Ontario for decades, and was therefore ineligible to represent PEI, but principles aside, the appointment was made, and here we are.

Elizabeth Woods, Victoria

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Whatever the outcome of the Duffy trial, the facts of the case which are not in dispute should inform the public about the cynical abuse of power.

It is abundantly clear that Mike Duffy was appointed to the Senate to garner financial donations and votes for the Conservative Party: Sober second thought was not in the job description.

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That should be all the public needs to judge Stephen Harper in the court of public opinion – and the public has the appropriate means at its disposal to hold the government accountable and exact the appropriate judgment at the next election.

Adalbert Thornton, Calgary

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The artist, the art

The comments by Valentina Lisitsa appear not to have broken Canadian hate-speech laws (Pianist Says TSO Donor Would Cut Funds – April 8). But that doesn't mean they are without consequences.

She made callous comparisons with Nazis and gas chambers and tweeted heinous comments about Ukraine – and all of this is her right, under Canadian law. But it's also the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's right not to want anything to do with her, and by extension her music, beautiful as it may be.

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Ms. Lisitsa is free to seek employment anywhere she wants, however, she shouldn't be surprised if few want to hire her.

Laryssa Waler, Toronto

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Whatever happened to Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo?

Georgia Henderson, Toronto

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Raccoon smarts

It took a while, but I proved I am smarter than a raccoon – barely (Resistance Is Futile – letters, April 8). For years, raccoons owned my green bin despite bungee cords and various weights. Then I had an epiphany: By hanging my bin on a hook (on a fence, post or wall) so that the bin's bottom is at least 15 inches off the ground, raccoons no longer have the leverage needed to pry open the top and get inside.

A green bin on the street overnight is another story…

Norman Rosencwaig, Toronto

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Drugs, for all

Not to be lost in the pharmacare debate is the human impact (Are We Ready To Open This Pandora's Box? – April 7).

Thanks to research, some conducted in Canada, advanced treatments for arthritis are now available that help manage pain, preserve mobility and prevent irreparable joint damage. Are we really prepared to deny access to life-changing treatments based on someone's age and socioeconomic standing?

We need sustainable solutions to the cost of advanced treatments: solutions that are equitable and protect quality of life for all Canadians.

Janet Yale, CEO, Arthritis Society

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As a physician in Ontario, I agree there is no clear road map to national pharmacare, but we can see a clear starting point. A realistic, incremental approach would be to examine the most egregious gaps – where the system is least fair, least equitable and least affordable – and begin to develop, at the very least, pan-Canadian minimum standards of care for people with cancer.

Cancer will hit two in five Canadians; it's the leading cause of death in Canada. When it strikes, the last thing you want to worry about is how to afford your medications. Cancer patients' families need not be bankrupted while we wait for national pharmacare. It's time to act at the provincial level.

Sandeep Sehdev, MD, oncology, William Osler Health System

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Carbon? Cap it

Re Like A Carbon Tax, But Much Worse (April 7): Cap-and-trade places a hard limit on emissions – hence the "cap." Under a carbon tax system, there's no such limit, so emissions could even rise (especially if the tax is too low).

Textbook economic theory tells us that carbon taxes and cap-and-trade can achieve exactly the same outcome, but this is a stylized, theoretical result which abstracts from real-world considerations such as administrative difficulties, or uncertainty in how emitters will respond to taxes.

The administrative and bureaucratic shortcomings of cap-and-trade – even if they exist to the extent Margaret Wente suggests – should be weighed against the environmental certainty that it brings.

Lyming Huang, Ottawa

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Want that T-shirt

A tip of my sweaty helmet with the cracked shield to the folks at Athabasca University (Searching For Hockey's Steve Jobs: An Online MBA For Top Students Of The Game – April 6).

It is good to know that a Canadian centre of higher learning, albeit one in a somewhat right-wing province, has taken up a defensive position that will allow our hockey-minded people to net their educational goals at home.

Students of the game willing to stickhandle and cherry-pick a course here and there have always been able to score better positions, but having a focused degree will be the icing on the cup – I mean cake.

By the way, where can I obtain a "Puck U" T-shirt, and will the graduate students lace 'em up and challenge my beloved U of A Golden Bears for Canadian interuniversity supremacy?

Bryan Caddy, Red Deer, Alta.

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