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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Aug. 25, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Conservative cohorts

Re New Leader O’Toole Works To Broaden Tory Base (Aug. 26): Erin O’Toole said in his acceptance speech, in French, that there is a place in the party for Quebec nationalists.

This says to me that the Conservatives stand ready to accede to a never-ending list of demands, from leaders such as Premier François Legault, for more powers, privileges and money at the expense of the federal government.

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This is a legitimate position for Mr. O’Toole to take, and consistent with a Conservative goal of dismantling the federal government in favour of the provinces. But it ensures that Mr. O’Toole will never get my vote. I would like a federal party that actually believes in Canada and the government that gives expression to our country.

Jim Paulin Ottawa

Re In O’Toole, Trudeau May Meet His Match (Aug. 26): To succeed in federal politics, a party must appeal to a broad base or have a bigger tent, as columnist Gary Mason puts it. He also points out that anti-gay and anti-immigrant positions form part of the Conservatives. If Mr. O’Toole is to succeed Justin Trudeau, he likely must hold on to this faction.

Yet in his victory speech, Mr. O’Toole tried to curry favour with minority groups. He claimed he would welcome all races, sexual orientations and religions. This is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds and, in my opinion, this approach will divide the Conservatives. It is unlikely to lead to their forming a government after the next election.

Ashok Sajnani Toronto

Tory theory

Re The Tories’ Choice Of Leader Doesn’t Matter – Not As Much As What The Party Does Next (Aug. 22): My problem with columnist John Ibbitson’s analysis of current political-economic philosophies is that it seems to confuse those philosophies with party labels. His version of modern conservatism includes fiscal conservatism and progressive social policies. In other words: what the Liberals have been practising for the past 30 years.

Justin Trudeau’s tax increases, along with a willingness to run deficits, are more tweaks than renunciation of the policies of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. They eliminated deficits by offloading spending onto provinces, who in turn offloaded onto cities, accompanied by continuing reductions in taxes, especially corporate ones.

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The resulting imbalance of the economy between the public and private sectors may have eliminated the fiscal deficit, but it also created a huge social deficit: stalled infrastructure, inadequate social housing, postsecondary school debt, increasing income inequality and so on.

“Progressive social policies” should go far beyond accepting LGTBQ rights and abortion – they should go to funding these and other elements that a wealthy society can well afford.

Andrew Leith Macrae Toronto

In Mr. Ibbitson’s commentary on the struggles of the Conservatives to make inroads with younger generations caught in the gig economy, he writes that Conservative governments find success when they are in it “for the little guy” (Doug Ford’s words) and focused on “creating the economic conditions that make [social] mobility possible.”

Excuse my eyebrow raise, but if these economic conditions are to be achieved through minimum wage stagnation and corporate tax cuts – both common features of recent Conservative economic policy – then the party seems to have it backward. Until Conservatives demonstrate that railing against elites can translate into policies that demonstrably support social mobility, being in it “for the little guy” rings hollow to my ears.

Daniel Ribi Ottawa

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If they build it…

Re Reimagining Internet As A Municipal Service Is Key To Connecting Canada (Report on Business, Aug. 24): Thanks to billions of dollars invested by Canada’s facilities-based telecommunications carriers, the country is, despite its size and low population density, home to some of the world’s fastest and far-reaching telecom networks. Like other countries, the challenge Canada faces is filling in coverage gaps in rural and remote regions. This task does not require a “reimagining,” as contributors Alex Benay and Stephen Beatty write – it requires private-sector investment and expertise.

Canadian network operators are poised to invest billions more in expansion, including working with government to fund projects that would not otherwise be economically viable. Hard-pressed and cash-strapped municipalities have plenty of other priorities, especially now, without taking on the additional burden of building and maintaining broadband networks.

Even if this were not the case, it would be far more fiscally responsible for governments to partner with private telecom firms that have the experience and resources.

I believe this is the only way we will achieve a national objective of bringing the internet to everyone.

Robert Ghiz President and CEO, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association; Ottawa

Higher learning

Re Journalist Offered Keen Insights Into Ottawa’s Corridors Of Power (Obituary, Aug. 19): In addition to the various areas of distinction highlighted by contributor Fred Langan’s obituary of Richard Gwyn, one can also add chancellor of a university.

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When I was vice-chancellor and president of St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo (1999 to 2007), Richard was my chancellor. And what a chancellor: Tireless in his advocacy of the university and its mission, inventive when it came to projects (his inspired conference on the spirituality of Pierre Trudeau was just one of his initiatives) and inexhaustibly curious, he found a sympathetic home in the academy. I think that surprised him, as he was not an academic by training or inclination.

He was a thinker, voracious in his wide reading, supportive of the scholarship of the faculty and respected by professional researchers. He was genuinely collegial, committed to being an activist chancellor rather than a titular one. He knew how to get things done.

He was a friend and model to me, personally, and to the university community as a whole.

Michael Higgins President and Principal, St. Mark’s and Corpus Christi colleges, University of British Columbia; Vancouver

God save the Queen

Re In Britain, BBC’s Changes To Music Festival Finale Spark Fury (Aug. 26): Has no one in Britain thought of updating the lyrics to Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory to something less offensive to so many?

There is no shortage of brilliant songwriters in that country: Bernie Taupin, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Estelle, Cat Stevens, to name just a few. The music is indeed stirring, and the songs could be even more meaningful if they changed with the times.

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As an American musician famously sang: “The times they are a-changin'.”

Patricia Moore Paris, Ont.

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