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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, centre, addresses attendees at a press conference to announce the launch of the Canadian Energy Centre at SAIT in Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

Greg Fulmes/The Canadian Press

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Dateline: Washington

Re Countries Agree To Revised USMCA (Dec. 11): Perhaps the biggest accomplishment in these North American trade negotiations is having persuaded Donald Trump to embrace the concept of North America as a bloc. The United States still dominates, but has given room to the others to thrive.

What could go wrong? As long as Canada and Mexico continue to prove we play nicely (but firmly), will that be enough to prevent Mr. Trump from eventually seeing us as an extension of himself? Will he wish to become the king of North America?

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Good things can have unintended consequences.

Colleen Pellatt Guelph, Ont.

Meanwhile in Alberta

Re Anger Over Oil Industry’s Image Hits Alberta Classrooms (Dec. 11): One of the most effective ways to nurture critical thinking is to present students with alternative views on a controversial topic and let them hash it out among themselves. Alberta’s determination to prohibit the learning process when the topic is oil sands development is appalling to me.

It was the success of many U.S. school boards in stamping out such informed pedagogy that seemed to help pave the way for the Trump presidency.

Jeff Fairless Kanata, Ont.

Meanwhile in Quebec

Re Parsing Pallister (Letters, Dec. 11): A letter writer highlights the fundamental difference between the Québécois view on rights compared with the rest of Canada.

In Quebec, as in France, collective rights are seen as needing protection from individuals seeking to erode them. In English Canada, individual rights are seen as needing protection from the tyranny of the majority. As a Quaker, I know a little something about persecution from the majority or those in power. Yet, I tend to agree with English Canada.

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Despite also being old-stock Québécois, I still have trouble understanding what threat is feared by some Québécois. I can only ascribe it to the siege mentality exhibited by so many.

Jacques Loranger Pointe-Claire, Que.

Brian Pallister presents himself as a champion of rights and freedoms of Quebeckers, but in reality seems to ignore the right of everyone to freedom from religion. What people believe cannot be legislated, but what they impose on others can – and should – be, and Quebec’s progressive character should be an example for all Canadians.

The province dislodged the stranglehold of Catholicism that I experienced growing up in Montreal years ago. Today, opposition to Bill 21 seems to be a reactionary response to Quebec’s continued progress toward critical thinking and logic. The concerted effort to undermine the bill also disregards the fact that a majority of Quebeckers support the bill.

Albert Howard Calgary

Meanwhile in Saskatchewan

Re Against The Grain (Report on Business, Dec. 7): We should put carbon costs into perspective: For natural-gas users, carbon costs are dwarfed by recent price drops, and farmers’ energy costs remain at historic lows. Pricing carbon ensures a payoff for energy-efficient investments and innovation.

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The agriculture lobby’s preferred solution, exemption from the carbon tax, should not be the answer. Why should one group’s planetary footprint be valued less than another’s? Rather, they should ask for a different allocation of revenue. Saskatchewan has had ample opportunity to craft a qualifying climate policy that takes provincial needs into account, but opted instead for the Federal backstop. In short, it seems prairie farmers are asking the wrong people for the wrong remedy.

Family farmers are on the front lines of climate change in Canada, including more frequent and intense droughts across the prairies. Let’s support them, not exclude them, in contributing to solutions.

Carolyn Fischer Canada 150 Research Chair in Climate Economics, Innovation and Policy; University of Ottawa

To reduce its reliance on coal-fired electricity generation, Saskatchewan should obviously go nuclear. After all, it has Canada’s richest deposit of uranium.

Thomas Frisch Ottawa

Meanwhile in Toronto

Re Toronto Needs Higher Taxes. Yes, Really (Editorial, Dec. 6): Toronto Mayor John Tory has called for higher property taxes and “we are going to praise his driving skills and his sense of direction,” The Globe’s editorial says. But as the editorial also points out, many of the services the city provides have been downloaded from the province.

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I own my house, an asset that delivers no income. I have been retired for 16 years on a pension that has not changed, nor will it change in the future. Yet, I will be expected to pay more taxes to support services such as social housing, highways and transit.

If Mr. Tory wishes to deal with these fiscal challenges then, yes, the target of his efforts is within the borders of Toronto. But it’s not City Hall – it’s Queen’s Park. Levels of government with progressive powers of taxation on income have the means to fund solutions to these issues. Property taxes should not be the tool.

David Kister Toronto

To load homeowners with Toronto’s tax burden seems short-sighted and insufficient. I believe that Toronto should become a city state, like Vienna, with the ability to tax in myriad ways: sales tax, income tax, commuter tax, road tolls – thereby taxing the user, not just the resident.

Rick Walker Toronto

Re Why Tory Was Wrong To Break His Promise To Taxpayers (Dec. 7): As situations change in Toronto related to infrastructure, climate change and phenomenal growth, waiting three years until the next election for a mandate to increase property taxes seems short-sighted.

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Delaying may ultimately prove more expensive.

In the end, voters will make the final decision, but I hope we see evidence of improvements before then. I believe it’s better to be safe than sorry, and better to pay now than pay later.

John Myers Toronto

Toronto needs a significant increase in property taxes, but such an increase should be proposed honestly as a result of a mandate obtained when our municipal leaders seek election.

Toronto Mayor John Tory ran in 2014 and 2018 on a pledge of no tax increases beyond the rate of inflation.

Now, he seeks to justify reneging on that promise. It sounds like just one more politician promising one thing and doing another.

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I believe we are fuelling cynicism and jeopardizing our democracy if we accept the betrayal of our elected leaders as the norm.

Brian Schnurr Toronto

Meanwhile across the pond

Re As Britain’s Election Tightens, Brexit Upends Traditional Party Ties (Dec. 11): So Britain gets to vote today. Ironically, they will wake up the next day on Friday the 13th.

Black Friday indeed, no matter the result.

Gordon Salisbury Mississauga


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