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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre greet each other as they gather in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Sept. 15, 2022.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Mirror, mirror

Re “Federal party leaders stake out political turf ahead of Parliament’s return” (Jan. 28): According to the Angus Reid Institute, Liberal voters view the Conservative Leader the same way Conservative voters view the Liberal Leader: arrogant and dishonest. “It is like they’re on different planets.”

I suspect both sets of voters are largely on the same planet in viewing both leaders exactly the same way.

Ira Greenblatt Ottawa

Fake it ‘til …

Re “ChatGPT has convinced users that it thinks like a person. Unlike humans, it has no sense of the real world” (Opinion, Jan. 28): So ChatGPT makes up facts, its calculations are sometimes dead wrong and it’s inclined to offer nonsense when questions exceed its knowledge or grasp of nuance.

ChatGPT sounds remarkably like a lot of people, especially those of the elected variety.

Anita Dermer Toronto

Growing pains

Re “The growing threat of a low-wage future for Canadians” (Editorial, Jan. 28): Kudos to The Globe and Mail for recognizing that we have an ownership problem. But then, rather surprisingly, you go on to argue that if we opened up banks and telecoms, for example, to foreign ownership, we would see a surge in innovation due to increased competition.

Without ownership restrictions, they too, like most of Canada’s private sector, would wind up in foreign hands, which would have no interest in Canadian research and development unless Canadian taxpayers funded it.

Most advanced economies restrict foreign ownership in the private sector. When Couche-Tard tried to buy the French retailer Carrefour in 2021, the French government simply said no, even if it was breaking rules set by the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

As long as Canada allows ownership power to slip away to foreign interests, we can be sure of becoming even more of an economic backwater compared to our erstwhile peers.

Jim Paulin Ottawa

Canada’s policy under Justin Trudeau has been to increase immigration.

The basic laws of supply and demand are that increased labour will drive up unemployment and drive down wages. A bigger population also means we would have to create or keep jobs in areas where we have no competitive advantage. Capital would go to housing or expanding infrastructure, instead of research and development or increasing productivity.

Canada’s problems should be obvious: too much foreign investment and control and too much reliance on commodities. We are competing against Saudi Arabia and Chile instead of Germany, Japan or South Korea.

We need an industrial policy: have our own corporations make high-value products that people want to buy and are even willing to pay a premium for, instead of a policy that prioritizes high population growth.

Brian Graff Toronto

Free speech?

Re “Florida’s book ban takes censorship to the next level” (Opinion, Jan. 28): In Ontario (and presumably in other provinces), I have experienced that school boards impose considerable pressure on English teachers to remove or marginalize particular material which, in the province’s estimation, fails to live up to the progressive standards strongly suggested by the social justice movement and other activists on the left. Of course, such efforts fall well short of actual bans, but the intent (and the implied ramifications for those who do not comply) are clear to me.

While the Florida ban is shockingly regressive, it behooves all book lovers to recognize that those who seek to influence what – and, indeed, if – we read occupy both ends of the political spectrum.

Andrew Milner Retired secondary-school English teacher; Peterborough, Ont.

A tip

Re “Too many tip prompts? Blame business owners and unfair wages” (Opinion, Jan, 28): My husband and I recently went to a restaurant that was recently “recommended” by the Michelin Guide. The meal was disappointing.

When the bill came, the terminal had tip choices up to 28 per cent, which seemed outrageous. We clicked “other” and left 15 per cent.

I was recently in Europe and greatly enjoyed not having to worry about tipping. Restaurants should increase prices, pay decent wages and get rid of this outdated system.

Jane McCall Delta, B.C.

A major problem with tipping is the underreporting of income by the recipients.

With tipping, employers often do not deduct proportionate income tax, vacation pay and payments for employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. The impact of being paid in cash today robs workers of future benefits. There are many who are unable to qualify for mortgages or loans because their official income is so distorted.

Tipping should be abolished. Servers should be paid a living wage, proportionate to the location where they work, and full payroll deductions should occur to benefit the individual worker, the government, the public as well as the business.

If the service industry cannot survive by charging appropriate prices covering living wages, maybe they should not be in business.

Pamela Pastachak Fort Erie, Ont.

While I applaud the suggestion to call restaurant owners and ask if their workers are being paid a living wage, I believe there really is only one solution: Workers need to unionize.

Karen Shortt Nanaimo, B.C.

All the small things

Re “Canada’s SUV obsession is disrupting our climate goals” (Jan. 28): We have driven comfortably from British Columbia to Ontario and back, over a dozen times, in our small 2007 Toyota Yaris.

We’ve had the secret pleasure of watching SUV drivers pay three times as much at the gas pump. We’ve laughed when we’ve been able to pull into a parking spot the SUV driver in front of us couldn’t. We’ve smiled every year when the mechanics had nothing to fix other than wear and tear.

We’re crying now because Toyota no longer imports the Yaris to Canada. The non-promotion of small cars and subsequent lack of availability is, I believe, another reason why people buy big cars.

Miriam Clavir Vancouver

Moment in time

Re “Dispatch from Europe: Are overnight trains more hope or hype?” (Pursuits, Jan. 28): Many years ago, I took the British sleeper train from London to Penzance, on my way to the Isles of Scilly.

Apart from the remarkable comfort of sleeping in a train that rocked gently from side to side, my main memory was of a curious accessory on the wall next to my berth: a small, round, padded piece of suede, with a hook above it. When I asked the porter what it was for, he said, “That is for your pocket watch, sir.”

Nigel Brachi Edmonton

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