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Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:


Five planet Earths …

Last Monday, July 29, 2019, was Earth Overshoot Day, the date by which humans had used up all the resources our planet can renew during the entire year. It’s only 50 years since humanity started “overdrawing” on Earth’s capacity to sustain our needs because of rapid demographic growth and increased standards of living. Earth Overshoot Day occurs earlier every year (mid-October, 25 years ago) as humanity’s “ecological footprint” grows.

Some countries don’t have an Overshoot Day, as they use natural resources within Earth’s regenerative capacity. We Canadians didn’t even make it past the end of winter. Our Overshoot Day was March 18 this year – nine and a half months of living at the expense of most of the rest of the world! If every woman, man, and child on Earth used resources as we do, it would take almost five planet Earths to sustain that appetite.

All the countries that “celebrate” national Overshoot Days (63 in 2019) must act to stop overusing – and too often, wasting – precious natural resources. We could aim to incrementally move Canada’s Overshoot Day forward in each of the next five decades – for example, April 15 (Singapore’s Overshoot Day in 2019) by 2030, and all the way to Dec. 15 (Ecuador’s) by 2070.

It would be an extremely painful national exercise. But, do we really have a choice?

Claude Laguë, Ottawa

Taxing credibility

Re Average Canadian Household Paid More In Taxes Than Living Costs In 2018, Report Says (Aug. 2): Finn Poschmann calculates the “average tax burden” for a Canadian household at $39,299 (2018). To arrive at the claim that the average household paid more in taxes than living costs, Mr. Poschmann, resident scholar at the Fraser Institute, apportions corporate taxes as if they were paid by individuals, since “the cost of corporate taxes are ultimately borne by employees and consumers.”

Corporate profits are also costs borne by employees and consumers, so let’s add those in, too, and create wholly fanciful data.

I’m no economist but the tendentious methodology of this report is misleading.

Kate Lawson, Kitchener, Ont.


Is the Fraser Institute’s Finn Poschmann trying to shame Canada by including us in the term, “Western welfare state countries”? Organizations such as the Fraser Institute and the Conservative Party have tried to equate welfare with entitlement, and a populace milking the system at the cost of hardworking taxpayers.

I’m happy to pay taxes in Canada. Yes, my money is hard-earned. I expect the taxes I pay to be well spent: universal health care, Old Age Security, education, roads, sewers. All, okay by me. Sometimes I will benefit from these services, sometimes they will help my neighbour more than they do me. Taxes are my contribution to my society’s welfare. See, the word is not derogatory.

David Kinahan, Toronto

Imbalance in the oil patch

Re Finding The Right Balance in The Oil Patch (editorial, Aug. 2): When I moved to Calgary more than 30 years ago, I noticed that many companies had the word “energy” in their name. I asked a long-time resident if they were truly energy companies – investing in many forms of energy – or strictly oil and gas. The response: “Just oil and gas.” Today, I would get a similar response.

Investment in greener, renewable forms of energy remains minimal. Blessed with abundant sunshine and wind, a young, educated and energetic (pardon the pun) work force, Alberta could be leading the transition from fossil fuels. However, with the knowledge that the transition will be long and slow (several decades or more), industry and local governments see little reason to change focus – despite the dire warning of climate change and the ultimate obsolescence of fossil fuels. Pity.

Mark Roberts, Calgary

E-ledgers on eco-assets

Re Slick Science (July 31): The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), established in 1968, was a radical innovation in experimental ecology at the level of ecosystems over extensive areas. For only $2-million a year, the project has helped preempt wide-scale, costly damage by acid rain to lakes and forests, as well as dangerous levels of phosphate-laden detergent residues in the Great Lakes. It alerted us to the oncoming cumulative effects of global warming, and problems with tar-sands hydrology.

Experiments there have resulted in more than 1,000 scientific articles, reports, and theses.

We need to be reminded about how this valuable asset was almost lost to the anti-science ideology of the Stephen Harper government through a section of an omnibus bill, “Jobs, Growth, and Long-Term Prosperity.” It took widespread condemnation from the international scientific community to force a rescue of the facility under new institutional arrangements.

Unfortunately, we still don’t appreciate the importance of institutions, whether physical entities or government policies, for understanding and coping with such problems. In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has chosen to mount a highly personal onslaught against them, including removing climate change from the environment ministry, cancelling the position of chief scientist, ditching a cap-and-trade agreement, and gutting the Endangered Species Act. Some of the worst of his carnage was also proposed through an omnibus bill, “Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act.”

Mr. Ford and Mr. Harper may go down as the most peevish political leaders in Canadian history, but much of their damage cannot be undone.

Greg Michalenko, Waterloo, Ont.

Hands off the medicine

Re Americans Raiding Canadian Pharmacies? Just Say No (Aug. 2): After reading your articles and some in the U.S. print media, I’m tempted to say very respectfully that Bernie Sanders should keep his socialist hands off our socialist medical system.

As for the arrogance of the Trump administration in not even consulting our government before announcing its plans to make it easier for Americans to import Canadian drugs, I would remind the President and his health czar that Canada was not and is not a 14th colony.

Kathryn Hamer Edwards, Sackville, N.B.

A Canadian treasure

Re Adventures From Sea To Sky, And Everything In Between (Pursuits, July 27): My favourite discovery was a site at the top end of Newfoundland that is unique in Canada – the Dorset quarry at Fleur des Lys. It’s described to visitors as the “only known soapstone outcrop in the Northern Hemisphere with evidence of Palaeo-Eskimo vessel carvings dating back 1,600 years”!

There’s nothing like it in the rest of Canada. There you can see an unfinished soapstone vessel that was being carved out of the quarry wall.

While it’s not a UNESCO World Heritage Site yet, it should be.

David Enns, Cornwall, Ont.


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