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A crowd gathers before the We Day red carpet in Toronto, on Sept. 20, 2018.Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

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How we volunteer

Re Trudeau Praises WE Charity’s ‘Excellent Work’ (Aug. 1): My sister and fellow workers have been going to Africa for the past 10 years to build homes for people in need of safe places to live.

The cost of each visit is about $5,000 per person. Fundraising for these projects covers the cost of travel and the build, which takes approximately 10 days. Money is raised in many different ways: bake sales, donations, selling paintings, etc. The last build included two teenagers who raised their own funds to participate.

Many of the homes built are for single mothers with children. There are also many photos showing the builds, and the happy families upon completion.

There are no corporate donations, just a passion to help – this is what a true charity is.

Yvonne Smyth Calgary

No mistake about it, volunteering one’s time and services is admirable. But I think a person has to be careful that one is not taking work away from the community.

A small example: In my community, the local hospital has volunteers caring for a garden. It’s a beautiful garden, but 25 years ago, that work was encompassed in a decently paid job with benefits and the protections of workers compensation.

I’ve been wondering what kind of “volunteer” work WE Charity promotes. Besides these young people being paid less than minimum wage, I’m suspicious that well-paying jobs are being jeopardized.

Cathy Harrop Canmore, Alta.

Say what?

Re Silenced (July 25) and Auditor-General To Probe Lapse In Pandemic Warning System (July 30): “What you present up the chain has to be dumbed down,” said one epidemiologist quoted by reporter Grant Robertson. This eyeopening exposé of the Global Public Health Intelligence Network reveals to me a crucial communication gap.

That this brilliant system fell into disuse, because analysts couldn’t get their messages through to bureaucrats who lack scientific backgrounds, indicates more science communicators should be placed in public health and public policy.

Hopefully the Auditor-General will come to this conclusion, too.

Hayley McKay Molecular genetics graduate student, University of Toronto

What’s right

Re If The U.S. Was Ever A Safe Third Country, It’s Undoubtedly Perilous Now (Opinion, July 25): How many court rulings will it take before the federal government realizes there is something wrong with the way human rights are often dismissed in policy-making? The latest Federal Court ruling – that the Canada-U.S. refugee pact is unconstitutional – adds to a long list of rulings on a range of human rights involving refugees, women, Indigenous people, dying people, etc.

Canada should replace a check-box approach to human-rights compliance with substantive analysis of reality, and shift resources from expensive court cases to preventing violations. Such an approach would benefit all Canadians and save money in the long run.

Kathy Vandergrift Ottawa

Police report

Re A Civil Answer: Without Political Will, The Flaws Of Canadian Policing Will Never Be Fixed (Opinion, Aug. 1): I believe contributor Christian Leuprecht is right in asserting that only political will can fix the flaws in Canadian policing.

Indeed, that was the working assumption driving the 1977 McDonald Commission of inquiry into RCMP wrongdoing, which resulted in the removal of national security service from its responsibilities and the creation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and of robust oversight and governance structures for both organizations.

Almost 50 years on, Canadian policing and its governing arrangements are in crisis once more. May I suggest that we need a national commission? One mandated to address organizational, cultural and governance issues in policing, and to determine what reforms are required given the challenges of policing in the 21st century.

The starting point for this overdue examination should be the RCMP, which in the 20th century was the undoubted lead policing agency in Canada. Today, it’s clear to me that the RCMP is failing to deliver on the force’s core responsibilities.

Scott Burbidge Port Williams, N.S.

Tax time

Re Dare We Raise The Subject Of Higher Taxes? (Editorial, July 30): Ironically, and perhaps surprisingly, one need look no further than south of our border for three very feasible suggestions on taxation.

Firstly, the United States has an inheritance tax. Canada has none.

Secondly, the U.S. taxes the worldwide income of its citizens, including those who live in low-tax regimes such as the Bahamas. Canada does not tax the same for its citizens, like the owner of the Ottawa Senators who officially resides in Barbados.

Thirdly, the U.S. payroll tax of 6.2 per cent for social security applies to incomes up to US$137,700, whereas the maximum in Canada is only $58,700. As a result of higher taxes, U.S. public pensions and social security are more generous than in Canada.

Canada should do better than the U.S. in designing, collecting and administering these taxes. As well, our country should consider a wealth tax such as exists in Norway, Spain and Belgium. We should also eliminate the tax-free savings account (TFSA), almost all benefits of which accrue to well-off people like me.

It would be a good start anyhow.

Lewis Auerbach Ottawa

Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of natural resources and innovative private-sector workers. The country should not need new and higher taxes to get itself out of massive debt created by the Trudeau government.

We should have lower taxes and policies that encourage – not discourage – private investment (and not from China, thanks very much!) in our mining, agricultural, fishing and oil and gas resources to meet global demand and provide profit to reduce debt. That money should also go toward new technologies to extract those resources while lowering pollution.

Consider that $100 taxed at 50 per cent creates less government revenue than $200 taxed at 40 per cent. Rapid economic growth, not increased taxation on the wealth of those who make this country strong, should be prioritized.

Dave Love Oakville, Ont.

I do

Re I Donated My Kidney To Help A Stranger. But What About The Person I Couldn’t Help? (Opinion, June 27): Nova Scotia unanimously passed an organ donor law, which it recently announced would take effect next year. It is unique in that all adults are deemed to be organ donors, but may opt out if they choose. This greatly reduces wait times to receive organs and saves more lives.

I respectfully suggest the same legislation be adopted by all Canadian provinces.

John Hungar Victoria

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