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Letters to the Editor Dec. 11: China, Canada, the United States ... in whose interests? Plus other letters to the editor

An ad for Huawei in downtown Toronto on Dec. 10, 2018.

Fred Lum

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: letters@globeandmail.com

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In whose interests?

Re China, Huawei And The Next Cold War (editorial, Dec. 10): Canada is a rule-of-law country, you say, and China is not. Therefore, you suggest, China is not trustworthy. The U.S., you imply, is a rule-of-law country, and is thus trustworthy. You need to re-examine your premises. The U.S. is a rule-of-national-interest country. Politics, law, and international actions are determined by economic interest. Post Second World War history provides verification.

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Wayne Valleau, Calgary

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The telcos are complaining that getting Huawei out of their 5G networks would cost more than $1-billion. This seems somewhat akin to complaining that condoms are too expensive.

It’s been said that nations do not have friends, only interests. Either way, China is not our friend and its interests are not our interests. Huawei is bound by law to assist the Chinese government in its intelligence activities, and in furthering the state’s goals. Giving it a doorway into our government systems, hospitals, power plants and other critical infrastructure doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Marc Grushcow, Toronto

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If Stephen Harper had been truly concerned about Huawei when he was prime minister, he would have created a Canadian foreign intelligence service, as he promised in the 2006 election. Such an agency would have been able to make an independent assessment of Huawei, so Canada would not be reliant on a Sinophobic U.S.

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Americans share only that intelligence which is in their national interest to share. If the government wants to have a made-in-Canada foreign policy, then a foreign intelligence agency is a necessary instrument of that policy.

Alistair Hensler, former assistant director, CSIS; Ottawa

This oil crisis

Re Hey, Alberta: This Oil Crisis Is Not Our Doing (Report on Business, Dec. 8): Albertans do not blame the rest of Canada for fluctuations in world oil and gas prices. Canada is, however, to blame for the huge differential between world prices and the prices being paid for Alberta’s oil and gas.

Albertans don’t want handouts, or even sympathy, from the rest of Canada. We simply want the federal government to do its job in enabling the oil and gas industry, and pipeline companies to transport oil and gas across this country and to markets.

Barrie McKenna ridicules the suggestion that it is the responsibility of the federal government to enforce applicable laws by whatever means necessary: “And you’re living in the wrong country if you think Ottawa should declare martial law, overthrow the B.C. government and deploy the armed forces to stifle pipeline opponents.” Living in the wrong country? That is exactly the conclusion many of us in Alberta are coming to.

William Rice, Calgary

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Before any Canadian rushes to create a crowd-funding site for the residents of Alberta who claim to be in such desperate straits, go to the Government of Alberta website. There, things seem rosy for Albertans: “Alberta continues to have an overall tax advantage compared to other provinces, with no sales tax, no payroll tax and no health premium … If Alberta had the same taxes and carbon charges as any other province, Albertans and Alberta businesses would pay at least $11.2-billion more in total taxes in 2018-19.” That “favourable” $11.2-billion annually is based on a comparison to taxes paid by residents of B.C. A more appropriate comparison is to Quebec, where the figure is $20.6-billion.

Albertans expect royalties from oil companies to take the place of various taxes, and that is obviously no longer the case. Time to develop a balanced economy and put in place a sales tax, a payroll tax and a health premium.

Wayne Robbins, Toronto

Pilots still fly aircraft

Re Without Work, Who Do We Become? (Opinion, Dec. 8): To claim that large commercial airliners are regularly landed by computers and that “the four-stripe human pilot, while doubtless reassuring on the intercom, was there mostly for show” is wrong. In my 20 years and more than 12,000 hours of flying, most of it in large, modern commercial airliners, the “computer” has landed the aircraft a grand total of two times. The primary reason for this low number is that humans are still more reliable than machines.

Think of how many times your computer/smartphone has frozen and needs to be rebooted – it happens in airplanes, too. Now imagine it at 50 feet, right before touchdown. It is only when the weather is really bad that an autoland is required because the pilots literally cannot see the runway until touchdown. While automation does allow the pilot to direct his/her attention to more appropriate tasks, and reduces the workload in cruise flight considerably, pilots still fly aircraft.

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Claiming computers fly aircraft and pilots are there just for show is like claiming that AutoCAD does the engineering, and the engineer is just for show. All modern professions benefit from automation, but for now, there is still a massive amount of judgment and decision-making to ensure that the automation does what it’s supposed to – not to mention, correct the automation when it fails.

Francis Hane, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Working through it

The weekend Opinion Section offered a sobering view of work on a number of fronts.

The danger at work of harassment if you’re a woman, or the absence of journalistic freedom in places such as the Philippines or Mideast, speak to weak or non-existent worker rights. In a similar vein, we read about reduced overall union density, the shelving of postal workers’ bargaining rights and the loss of autoworker jobs as emblematic of a weakening of Canadian democracy.

In a moving piece about the disappearance of the family farm, we learned again that not all change, or rising productivity, represents progress for communities.

A former First Lady rebutted the notion that modern-day women can “lean in” and “have it all.” A new Mexican leader offered hope to a society where workers’ expectations have been held down. And we read that the French President’s job may well be on the line as the wave of protests of the “yellow vests” gives voice to French frustration with rising inequality and stagnant wages.

Two observations from this cascade of articles are first that the world of work and the workplace is not static, and our ability to meet workers’ legitimate needs and aspirations may well define politics as time unfolds.

Second, it seems clear that the arc of the moral universe is indeed long, and at that at least at this moment in time, it does not appear to be bending toward justice for workers.

Paul Moist, former national president, CUPE; Winnipeg

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Re The Last Harvest (Opinion, Dec. 8): Joanne Will’s sad but ultimately hopeful story of the state of the family farm brings to mind the tale of the farmer who won the lottery: He just kept farming anyway … until it was all gone.

John Edmond, Ottawa

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