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Federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, left, and Quebec Premier Francois Legault get set to start their meeting in Montreal, on Sept. 14, 2020.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

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Their time to lead

Re The Infinite Flexibility Of Erin O’Toole (Sept. 16): Another Conservative Leader chooses to pander to Quebec nationalists instead of defending Canadian rights and freedoms. In fact, he would welcome an expansion of Quebec language laws to federally regulated businesses.

This feels disrespectful of the Charter and Constitution and it will do nothing to strengthen Canadian unity. He’s lost my vote, and I suspect the votes of most anglophones and allophones in Quebec.

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Harold Sookman Montreal

Re Trudeau Shifts Focus To Avoiding Lockdowns As COVID-19 Resurges (Sept. 15): So the rise in COVID-19 cases has forced Justin Trudeau to concentrate on avoiding lockdowns. This is good, because the idea of Liberal involvement in the “greening of Canada” frightens the hell out of me. I remember back in 2009, when another Liberal team tried “the greening of Ontario,” with dire consequences.

The McGuinty and Wynne Liberals introduced green policies which were disastrous. Electricity rates went sky-high; so-called green jobs never fully materialized or were part-time at best. Can one imagine if these results were countrywide? That many of the people from that former government are now working with the Trudeau Liberals should concern every Canadian.

If the government is so convinced of this great, ambitious plan, then let them dissolve Parliament, call an election and take the decision to Canadians. Don’t foist it on us.

Barry Seligman Waterford, Ont.

More or less

Re Public And Private? (Letters, Sept. 16): A letter-writer wonders what’s not to like about private health care. The answer: a reduction in staff available for the public sector, as doctors might prefer to work in a more lucrative private system. More for the rich and less for the rest – again.

Ann Sullivan Peterborough, Ont.

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Tit for tat

Re U.S. Abandons Tariffs On Aluminum, Imposes Quotas (Sept. 16): With the United States prompted to drop tariffs on Canadian aluminum sales, primarily because the country does not have the capacity to produce enough, our position should be to have Canadian producers raise prices to the U.S. and enjoy medium-term gains in profit.

This would infuriate Donald Trump and show that we can play the tariff game in other ways.

T.A. Bryk Toronto

Musical chairs?

Re Ottawa Appoints New Management For Pandemic Warning Unit (Sept. 15): So we now have the considered response of the government to the “dumbing down” of our one-time highly effective pandemic surveillance group: replace one person with no scientific expertise with another person who appears similarly short of such credentials.

A chorus from the 1963 musical Oh, What a Lovely War! comes readily to mind: “They were only playing leapfrog, when one staff officer jumped right over the other staff officer’s back."

John Merritt Ottawa

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Re Bureaucratic Rebuild (Letters, Sept. 14): I believe a letter-writer is correct to conclude that “the recent decision to investigate Canada’s pandemic early-warning system is symptomatic of systemic wide-ranging failures across Ottawa’s bureaucracy,” due to senior managers being “frequently moved around and parachuted into departments, knowing little about the work." I fear, however, this is such an ingrained situation that nothing but a major overhaul would be effective.

In the 1980s, I witnessed the hiring of managers into a scientific department with diverse non-scientific backgrounds. Though capable, I found that they were not equipped to make science-based decisions on budgets, staff and programs. This situation was soon exacerbated by an inappropriate introduction of cost-recovery programs.

I fear that mismanagement of federal science-based departments, where senior bureaucracy indulges in musical chairs, is a fact of life that will be very difficult to reverse.

Louis Cabri PhD, FRSC, former principal scientist; Ottawa

Bank shot

Re Inequality Is Not BoC’s Problem To Solve (Sept. 16): If one accepts that income inequality is a critical issue facing governments in Canada, to my mind it seems foolish to think that the Bank of Canada, whose primary role is managing monetary policy, should not be taking into account how its actions could positively affect and reduce wealth disparities.

Columnist Konrad Yakabuski suggests that following this path would jeopardize the BoC’s independence from elected government, but it is difficult for me to see why recognizing this issue, in the context of delivering a monetary policy mandate, would have any appreciable impact on autonomy.

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Frank Malone Aurora, Ont.

Re What If We Never Repay The National Debt? (Report on Business, Sept. 11): I would add that any debt purchased by the Bank of Canada is interest-free, which would reduce both the cost of servicing that debt, and the uncertainty around future interest rates and economic growth.

The BoC started purchasing provincial debt for the first time in its history this spring, a policy tool it has had at its disposal for decades, but chose not to use until a pandemic froze our economy. Provinces will now also benefit from some portion of their debt being interest-free.

The money supply is an accounting tool which can be tweaked. We may disagree on approaches to that tweaking, but the cost of not borrowing or creating money, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, is human lives. To take the lives of health care workers and loved ones for granted, while worrying about hypothetical economic trajectories, seems callous to me.

Andrew Cichocki Toronto

I believe that commentators who speak of the risk associated with the ever-increasing federal debt in isolation are doing a disservice to taxpayers. It should be the aggregate national debt, including both provincial and federal figures, that is considered in what can be serviced by Canadians.

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If a province defaulted, it is unimaginable that Canada’s credit rating would not be adversely affected. Is there nothing to be learned from Newfoundland and Labrador’s recent inability to issue debt without Ottawa stepping in to effectively backstop the province?

Richard Austin Toronto

Yes I’ve seen it before

Re Plague Riots Erupt In Moscow (Moment in Time, Sept. 15): Those who study history understand the consistency of human behaviour. For all our technology and other advancements, social unrest continues to accompany events like plagues and pandemics.

As the Moment in Time points out, only strong leadership – which effectively communicated the necessity of strict measures and financial relief – restored order during the plague in Moscow of 1771. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. In the midst of this pandemic, both the public and government should pay attention to the lessons that history can teach us.

Suzette Blom Toronto


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