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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks with the provincial finance ministers during the Finance Ministers' Meeting in Toronto, on Feb. 3.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Generational wealth

Re “A simple way to ensure government budgets are fair for all generations” (Report on Business, Feb. 4): We senior citizens cannot help consuming more health care dollars than the young, but there must be ways of making the division of wealth more equitable.

The government reversed previous plans to gradually increase the age for Old Age Security eligibility. The result, unsurprisingly, is an unconscionably large OAS expenditure. Perhaps land or wealth taxes could also be brought to bear.

I suspect that most seniors would see the justice in paying their proportionate share, if they were made aware of the harm that they are unknowingly causing to younger folks.

Bob Seiler Pickering, Ont.

Contributor Paul Kershaw seeks to ensure that government budgets are “fair for all generations,” comparing budgetary allocations to the over-65 population with those under-45 to highlight discrepancies in spending.

In doing so, he completely ignores the cohort in between. Which generation is this? Once again, X marks the spot.

Shan Janmohamed Toronto

As an early boomer, I have long decried my generation’s selfishness.

In our early years, we consistently voted for governments that made unfunded promises. Subsequently, we used our demographic heft to ensure that benefits were delivered by later governments. Now our health and aging costs are demanding further massive expenditures at the expense of younger generations.

It is suggested to report government expenditures by age groups, a simple first step. A more difficult but necessary measure would be to redefine our priorities toward a better future for the young.

Governments cannot be all things to all people. It’s time for boomers to stand up for our children – then take a backseat.

Len Ashby Toronto


Re “Agtech pushes the boundaries of food production and fuels a debate about who is considered a farmer” (Report on Business, Feb. 4): There are crops that are the least economically viable in vertical farms, particularly those that require a lot of space, light or pollination. Those crops should be grown in the most fertile soil available, which in British Columbia is the Fraser River delta that includes Richmond.

That is why Richmond does not want vertical farms and greenhouses on its crop-growing farmland, almost all of which is in B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve. Although about 5 per cent of the province falls under the ALR, only about 0.6 per cent is used for growing crops.

That leaves a lot of room for vertical farming on less fertile land elsewhere.

John Roston Richmond, B.C.

As a former B.C. Agricultural Land Commission employee and member of the advisory committee on revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve, I question the use of agricultural land for “agtech” farming.

Vertical farming feels like another excuse to use agricultural land for something that could be located elsewhere, since it doesn’t require soil or natural light. Why not put them on top of single-storey big-box warehouses? In the Netherlands, the majority of agtech businesses are located outside of agricultural areas.

The ALR can’t be viewed as the place for land uses not accommodated elsewhere or because other land is too expensive. This is exactly the kind of pressure that led to its creation 50 years ago.

Those who stand to benefit would be agtech proponents, not farmers and not British Columbians. Once it’s paved over, the option for soil-bound agriculture is lost forever.

Shaundehl Runka Gibsons, B.C.

I have no real problem with vertical farms, but covering farmland in the Fraser Valley with great whacks of concrete strikes me as a foolish idea.

Concrete, as many cities have learned recently, is awful at soaking up floodwater. Has everyone already forgotten the Pacific Northwest floods of 2021?

James Romanow Sasktatoon


Re “Margaret Atwood on Bill C-11 and why bureaucrats shouldn’t tell authors what to write” (Feb. 4): Once more, we descend into the absurdities of defining what’s Canadian in broadcasting. To make matters worse, we now need to consider excluding “user-generated content,” a recipe for confusion if ever there was one.

But I believe Margaret Atwood goes too far in labelling the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, a long-established regulator, as “shadowy” and “secret,” and questioning “how many of them are there.” With five minutes on the CRTC website, she can see exactly who and how many “they” are. She can also put on her calendar a half-dozen public hearings over the next few months, and submit comments to some 80 proceedings and consultations.

Not much material here, it seems, for another award-winning novel of postapocalyptic tyranny.

Gerry Salembier Ottawa

Re “The concept of CanCon is pure folly. That’s the problem at the heart of Bill C-11″ (Feb. 8): Columnist Andrew Coyne writes that “there is no theory of aesthetics that prefers that Canadian artists should make Canadian art that teaches Canadians how Canadian they are.” That’s ridiculous; it was the dominant way of understanding and valuing Canadian cultural production for the better part of 50 years.

As a professor of Canadian literature, I spend a lot of time explaining the anxieties and aspirations behind “CanCon” to increasingly incredulous students. But when I tell them that the same logic underpins decolonizing and social justice imperatives with respect to literature, they get it.

Canadians may no longer be worried about American cultural imperialism, but they still mostly think art should be socially useful. Like Mr. Coyne, I’m not so keen on that perspective.

But I find his argument oversimplifies matters: It’s simply not possible to draw a line between a “theory of aesthetics” and a “political project.”

Robert Stacey Ottawa

Lasting legacy

Re “My aunt Caroline Andrew built bridges between English and French Canada” (Opinion, Feb. 4): I was touched and informed by reporter Eric Andrew-Gee’s tribute to his aunt Caroline Andrew. Caroline was responsible for building another important bridge between the academic community and those living in precarious circumstances.

In 2004, she joined with First Baptist Church, the Ottawa Mission and Cornerstone Housing for Women to establish Discovery University, a project to provide non-credit university courses for those who had been denied this experience through poor health, a lack of income or homelessness. Thanks to her indefatigable efforts, the University of Ottawa provided modest startup funding, classroom space and faculty to teach a wide range of courses in the humanities.

From its founding, Discovery University has expanded to include faculty from Carleton and St. Paul universities, and approximately 60 students benefit each year from an institution that owes much to Professor Andrew.

Martha Musgrove Ottawa

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