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While agreeing with the bulk of your editorial, The Need To Sell Carbon Pricing (Aug. 13), I note you state that Canada represents less than 2 per cent of global carbon emissions. How about we do some math? Canada represents less than 0.5 per cent of the global population, so what I get from that “2 per cent” line is that we are producing four times “our share”! Yes, we have a cold northern climate, but we are also one of the world’s wealthiest countries.
We should do something about this existential threat to our children’s lives: The best first step is a straightforward carbon tax (revenue neutral).
David Konarek, Toronto
You perpetuate the error made by the Trudeau government when it chose to focus on a policy instrument (a means to the end) rather than on action sufficient to achieving our Paris commitment (the end itself).
While economically efficient, carbon pricing is politically difficult because it increases the price of goods such as gas and heating oil, which are seen as necessary and beneficial rather than “sinful,” and because it’s open to the accurate charge that at levels set by the federal government, it can’t solve the problem by itself – pain without gain.
Rather than selling carbon pricing, Ottawa should focus on our real climate-policy challenge. Policies being implemented by Alberta, our largest emitter, will lower the rate of increase in that province’s emissions by 2030. However, analysis of data in the December, 2017, Alberta Climate Leadership Plan: Progress Report shows provincial emissions in 2030 will nevertheless be 9 per cent above their 2005 level, making achieving our Paris commitment (that total Canadian emissions be 30 per cent below the 2005 level) next to impossible.
Douglas Macdonald, senior lecturer emeritus, School of the Environment, University of Toronto
Ethics, data, parties
Re A Data-Driven Election Can Be Ethical (Aug. 13): Before we start copying other jurisdictions, we should look to our democratic architecture and law. Candidates in each community election are provided voters’ lists in order to identify and communicate with the electors in that community. The law precludes their use of that information for other purposes.
Beyond this basic information, all other personal information should be subject to existing privacy laws, accessible and usable only with the explicit permission of the individual. We should enact legislation that establishes an automatic restriction on the sale or transfer of personal data when for political or electoral purposes, thereby establishing that political parties may only use personal information for which they have the individual’s direct approval.
A political party is a pragmatic organizational expedient, and the parties’ best efforts to the contrary, remain private clubs and do not, and should not, enjoy standing in elections or our democracy.
Our Charter gives us the individual right to vote, while our democratic architecture asks us to exercise that right in making a collective choice for the representation of our community. To succeed in the latter, we must engage in conversation, consideration, and compassion. Parties and the micro-targeting that the data in their hands enables, undermine democracy, disrupt the dialogue, diminish the community voice, and violate personal privacy.
Gregory Lang, Toronto
Searched at security
Re Airport Security: An Exercise In Absurdity (Aug. 11): I’m right there when it comes to griping about security lines and the general unpleasantness of air travel. But asking why passengers must endure security searches and quoting Hans Rosling saying “Since 2001, no terrorist has managed to kill a single individual by hijacking a commercial airliner”?
Isn’t that sort of like saying, “Why did we waste time fixing the roof? We haven’t had a single leak since then.”
Don Orloff, Winnipeg
I had such a horrible experience at Dulles International, I don’t ever want to fly again. I am 87, use a cane, and was carrying my purse and a backpack through security. I was pulled aside because I had “set off alarms.” I have two hip replacements, plus wire and screws in one hip and told them this. However, I was patted down all over – and I do mean everywhere – so roughly, it was hard to keep on my feet. The hands went right up between my legs. I was asked to untuck my blouse: A hand went down my back, inside my underpants. I felt violated. Of course nothing was found, but I am still distressed over the experience.
Shirley J. Williams, Dundas, Ont.
Dialogues with the past
Re Grappling With The Legacy Of Sir John A. (editorial, Aug. 11): Indigenous people are very badly marginalized by Canadian history, but if we hide the statues of every hero, queen, pope, politician, general, scientist, educator, artist and even saint who did not, in their own era, demonstrate the knowledge and compassion we hope for in our time, cities will need much more statue-storage space. Taxpayers are more in touch with reality: What are we to do, in today’s Canada, for Indigenous people to become full participants so the opportunity and prosperity Macdonald envisioned comes to all Canadians?
The good news is that one city council’s distortion of history can’t detract from the most real and lasting monument to Sir John: Canada itself, the country he brought into being.
Carol Clemenhagen, Ottawa
In 1871, B.C. was brought into Confederation. To seal the deal, a railway was to be built to the western coast. This is sometimes called Canada’s National Dream. For the aboriginal peoples of Western Canada, it was a National Nightmare. Because the railway project was incompatible with the Indigenous peoples’ economy, it was deliberately destroyed. They were forcibly removed to ever-more marginal territories, while traditional lands were given by the Crown to settlers. Resistance was crushed, families and communities deliberately ripped apart.
And so, removing a statue of the man most responsible for this policy is not, as your editorial claims a “sort of selective reckoning with Canada’s past.” It is the opposite. It is acknowledging that what was heroic for some, was horror to others. Our challenge is to reconcile these memories into a new, inclusive national ethos.
Ron Chaplin, Ottawa
If we only allow statues of people who are perfect, there will be no statues. We would be well advised to revisit the words of former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau: “I do not think the purpose of a government is to right the past. It cannot rewrite history. It is our purpose to be just in our time.” That is a far better beacon for today’s leaders to steer toward.
Roy Schneider, Regina
It’s hard for me to understand the uproar over the statues of Macdonald et al. When I was growing up in India, cities were littered with statues of the obese Empress sitting on her potty. Crows, pigeons and sparrows expressed our feelings quite adequately.
Rahul Banerjee, Winnipeg