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Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland presents the government's economic update in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Dec. 14.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

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Re Experts Urge Targeted Action On Omicron (Dec. 15): I think the spread of the Omicron variant will rapidly and disastrously continue as long as governments persist in ignoring obvious mitigations: making cheap, high-quality, well-fitting masks available at every drug and convenience store; giving out free rapid tests widely, not just to businesses; reopening mass vaccination sites to deliver boosters to anyone of any age; fixing COVID-19 rules at airports that seem completely illogical and ineffective.

Lesley Barsky Toronto

More, more

Re Ottawa’s ‘Fiscal Guardrails’ On Debt Levels Have Suddenly Gone AWOL (Report on Business, Dec. 15): Chrystia Freeland announced that we remain in the red, but a slightly lighter shade than first projected. Canadians can be forgiven for holding their applause.

The Trudeau government has not balanced a single budget; federal debt now exceeds $1-trillion for the first time in our history. Sadly, there seems no end in sight. Although the worst of COVID-19 is hopefully behind us, Ms. Freeland forecasts deficits all the way through to 2026-27.

The interest alone on this debt costs billions of tax dollars every year. Interest rates will rise at some point and interest charges will mushroom even further. Our children and grandchildren could be paying for this every year of their adult lives.

This government should learn to embrace living within its means and not spending more than it takes in. The profligacy of the Trudeau administration looks to be steering us toward a grim financial future.

Roy Schneider Regina

Road map

Re Taking The Wrong Road To Net Zero (Editorial, Dec. 13): The Globe and Mail’s editorial on the Canada Energy Regulator touches on a salient but much overlooked point: Its forecasts are not keeping up with efforts to mitigate climate heating.

It feels absurd to predict rising oil production as the world races to limit emissions. But the picture is even worse when we consider the downstream emissions of our fossil fuels, which typically amount to about 80 per cent of all oil and gas emissions. Because Canada exports most of its crude oil, these emissions count against the country in which they occur and are overlooked in our own emissions accounting.

Oil and gas will warm our world even as they are burned in other countries. This material fact should receive urgent attention.

Andy Kubrin Calgary

The level of oil and gas production in the Canadian Energy Regulator’s outlook for a net-zero 2050 is alarming. Net zero should mean first reducing emissions as much as possible, then considering how remaining emissions can be offset. This would entail Canada ending exploration and expansion of fossil fuel production, managing declines in existing production and ramping up investment in clean energy sources.

We should not rely on negative emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage to mitigate the impact. Yet the federal government continues to invest heavily in CCS, which would only serve to subsidize oil and gas production further.

CCS remains prohibitively expensive and unready for large-scale implementation. Even the regulator expresses misgivings about negative emissions technologies, stating that they “are not a replacement for conventional mitigation and adaptation methods, due to high costs, potential risks and uncertainties involved.”

Beth Lorimer, Ecological justice program co-ordinator, KAIROS Canada Toronto

Live where?

Re A Divided Nation (Opinion, Dec. 11): Why do the majority of people prefer to live in cities? I believe many of the country’s problems and shortcomings cited by contributor Donald Savoie are caused by dispersed, low-density rural communities.

The average commute-to-work time in Canada is little over an hour. There seems no reason why a wheat farmer or apple grower needs to live on their farm 24/7. If our farmers commuted to work in an electric vehicle, a small, economically viable town could service an area 200 kilometres in diameter. That area covers the whole B.C. Lower Mainland; Red Deer is about 150 kilometres from both Edmonton and Calgary.

Instead of busing children to school, why not bus farmers to their fields and let children walk to school with their urban peers?

Alan Ball New Westminster, B.C.

Re Governments Seem To Be Missing The Point On Canada’s Housing Crisis (Opinion, Dec. 11): It’s outrageous to me that the contributors would suggest that people move away from cities to solve a housing problem of our own making, especially when they acknowledge the problem is that we can’t build fast enough.

So many opportunities are in our great cities. We are not out of land, lumber, nails or even money, but simply permission to “build, baby, build.” When private individuals and developers, with their own money, stop wanting to build, then governments might have to step in.

In the meantime, governments should just get out of the way.

Sam Wong Toronto

In and out

Re House Divided (Letters, Dec. 14): A letter-writer suggests that Canada Pension Plan Investment Board invest in single-family housing in Canada, rather than in Arizona. “After all, the funds are from Canadian investors.” Until 1991, Canadian pension funds were allowed to invest only 10 per cent of their assets outside the country.

This “foreign basket” limit was the tradeoff pension funds made to not be taxed. But in 1985, laws changed to require that the “prudent person” rule be applied to pension portfolios.

Fund managers then made a convincing argument that leaving 90 per cent of their assets in Canada was simply not “prudent.” So in 1991, the 10-per-cent foreign limit rose to 20 per cent. Since 2005, there has been no limit.

It is because of this that Canadian pension funds have done so well in providing for our retirements. To revert to the days of foreign limits would be imprudent.

Nelson Smith Toronto

Moment of Zen

On Tuesday, The Globe and Mail’s editorial cartoon focused on COVID-19 – as did the editorial and all three op-ed columns. After nearly two years of living under this storm cloud, I think we’re all finding the tidal wave of pandemic-related news to be wearying.

On Wednesday’s front page, there’s a photo of three young people in Libya practising their parkour skills, spinning in midair as if defying gravity (Flipping Out On The Beach – Dec. 15). No virus, no Omicron variant, no doom and gloom – just three children being awesome. Thank you for the break, if only a brief one.

David Brooks Toronto

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: