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A new home is displayed for sale in a housing development in Ottawa on July 14, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Children first

Re Variant-driven Third Wave Hits Middle-aged Adults Hard (March 30): I am 80 and getting my vaccine this week. I have two sons in their 50s. What kind of sentimental nonsense was it to give my cohort priority?

Why aren’t parents a priority? I have no responsibilities, can stay home and have already lived a long life. Did anyone seriously think that grandparents would be fine with their children and grandchildren being at risk while they are safe?

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I asked to give my vaccine to my son, but apparently that would upset some divine order.

Irene Tomaszewski Ottawa

Provincial priority

Re Ottawa, Provinces End National Securities Regulator Project (Report on Business, April 1): It seems unbelievable that Canada, alone among G20 countries, cannot organize a national securities regulator. Then I look at the pandemic and the wildly dissimilar approaches of our provinces. Why can’t we get our acts together?

Paul McCormick Ottawa

More or less?

Re It’s Time To Focus On Expanding Our Population (March 31): Both of my parents came from Russia to Canada in the 1920s, so I have a real sense of the opportunity this country offers to immigrants. However, 100 years later, things have changed dramatically. To suggest that Canada can absorb one million immigrants a year would stretch our infrastructure far beyond its capacity.

Immigrants want to live in major cities for obvious reasons, and currently we can’t even manage moving people around well in any of them. With current levels of unemployment, underemployment and sessional, seasonal and part-time work (all lacking meaningful pensions and benefits), more workers would put even more downward pressure on wages.

Combine that with the digital transformation of work, along with automation, globalization and the existing surplus of global labour, and it seems the white paper that Canada needs should firstly be on the new workplace.

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David Enns Cornwall, Ont.

Having just watched David Attenborough’s Extinction: The Facts (Attenborough’s Latest Is A Screaming Siren For The Future Of The Planet – March 31), I was appalled to encounter Brian Mulroney’s plea for increasing our population to 100 million. I believe that kind of foolishness does nothing to confront the true existential crisis confronting our planet.

Michael Richardson Victoria

End result

Re RCMP To Review Record Retention Policy (March 29): One person admits to pulling the trigger, another person ends up dead and the only result is that the RCMP undertakes a review of its record-keeping policy. Strange!

Ivan McMorris Winnipeg

See clearly now

Re In Soaring Housing Market, Blind Bidding Faces Increased Scrutiny (March 25): Blind bidding is in the interests of real estate agents, as is the well-known practice of setting low listing prices to attract numerous offers and create bidding wars. Both increase selling prices and, more importantly, agent commissions.

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Governments should step in and end blind bidding on residential real estate. The current rules seem simply inadequate.

Richard Austin Toronto

For me, blind bidding is up there with low list prices that invite bidding wars, low interest rates, flippers, money launderers and foreign speculators. There should be a review of all real estate practices.

Housing is the largest purchase most consumers will ever make, thus good consumer protections should exist. Real estate agents may claim that sellers have rights to the highest possible prices. However, this is not necessarily compatible with the best choice for society at large. Many things are regulated for the good of all: speed limits, hydro prices and much more.

Theresa Courneyea Toronto

Private vs. public

Re Ontario Considers Making Remote Learning A Permanent Option (March 25): We should be concerned about the Ontario government’s proposal that potentially positions TVO and TFO as parallel revenue-generating educational systems competing with – and siphoning resources from – the public education system.

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Under the guise of advancing online learning, I believe the proposal sets up a framework for privatizing aspects of public education. Diverting government funding, whether through vouchers, charter schools, private schools or for-profit schools, were initiatives advanced by former U.S. education secretary Betsy DeVos, a free-enterprise advocate and staunch opponent of public schools and the teaching profession. The Ontario proposal should be seen as a similar attempt to bring education into the marketplace.

A well-financed public school system, along with a vigorous teaching profession, is essential to the health of a democratic society. Steps to disfranchise public schools and the teaching profession should be vigorously opposed.

David Olson Professor emeritus, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Penticton problems

Re Penticton’s Treatment Of The Homeless Is Appalling (March 27): I believe columnist Gary Mason unfairly attacks our city. While the only shelter for the homeless may get shut down, there are still three supportive housing facilities run by the province and plans for a fourth. And surrounding the existing facilities, many citizens have seen an escalation of activity that may be criminal in nature.

Local services, businesses, seniors and the general public have been affected. The situation has challenged police, city bylaw officers and emergency responders. City council has requested an audit of these facilities.

The city has stated a need for more dedicated treatment facilities to meet the needs of drug addicts and those suffering from mental illness. It is also working hard to address safety issues that affect the whole community.

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Connie Redknap Penticton, B.C.

AI equity

Re Lightning To Lightbulb: Accelerating Canada’s AI Opportunity (Report on Business, March 26): Research and writing on artificial intelligence opportunity ought to move beyond vague recriminations about Canada’s growing AI ecosystem to examine the accountability and transparency of AI technologies. If Canada wants to position itself as a global AI leader, it should do so without a technologically deterministic view of the future.

Canada should confront and address the racism, discrimination and other algorithmic biases that are encoded into and legitimized by AI systems. It should centre the voices, experiences and scholarship of female and BIPOC scholars who critically evaluate AI tools and usage. It should resist the tendency to “over-technologize” solutions to everyday problems. It should develop a comprehensive national AI governance strategy.

Canada should proceed in a careful, thoughtful and nuanced way that balances innovation with humanity.

Helen Hayes PhD student, McGill University; Mississauga

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