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Federal Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks during a press conference following meetings with provincial and territorial finance ministers in Ottawa on Dec. 17, 2019.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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The Conservative leadership

Re Rona Ambrose Is The Type Of Candidate The Conservative Party Needs (Dec. 17): That Rona Ambrose does not possess enough of a command of French should constitute a major drawback for her electability. The last election demonstrated how vital it is to francophone voters that their prime minister be able to speak and debate proficiently in French – and no party can gain a majority if they don’t do well in Quebec.

The next leader of the Conservatives also cannot be a climate denier if they want to attract swing voters. Social issues are important, but it should be even more important that the Conservatives adopt a responsible environmental platform if they want to unseat the Liberals.

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Josée Letarte Toronto


Re Who Should Be The Conservatives’ Next Leader? Consider This Picture (Dec. 14): The suggestion of lifting the tanker moratorium on the B.C. coast may help the Conservatives in Alberta, but it has the potential to wipe them out in British Columbia. Read my lips – no tankers, ever. I believe this is the most dangerous coast in the country and tankers should have no place on it.

Jane McCall Delta, B.C.


The abuse recently heaped upon Andrew Scheer seems indicative of the Conservative Party’s culture. It feels as though too many politicians have adopted the style of U.S. Republicans, hurling insults and sarcasm instead of offering constructive criticism and articulating clear policies.

I see there are still some Conservatives who are calm, reasonable and genuinely want to govern for the best of the country – people such as Lisa Raitt, Rona Ambrose and Caroline Mulroney. Is it only women who have not been infected by malignant testosterone from the United States?

If voters and media paid less attention to the wardrobes and lifestyles of politicians, they could pay more attention to their policies. Maybe in the next election we’ll all study the issues and be able to say: May the best woman win!

Irene Tomaszewski Ottawa

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The Liberal deficit

Re Liberals Report Larger Deficits Ahead Of First Minority Budget (Dec. 17): Fiscal benchmarks seem to have no economic justification in today’s fiat money system. How else to explain the shifting definition of a fiscal anchor that ranges from “balanced budgets” to “modest deficits” to “stable debt-to-GDP ratios,” differences encompassing tens of billions of dollars?

The determinant restraint on spending should be the economy’s resource capacity. Bill Morneau should focus on real-world effects, particularly the unemployment rate. Through targeted spending, more than one million Canadians could be given the opportunity to earn income and contribute to society. Then fiscal prudence is warranted to forestall inflation.

As Australian economist William Mitchell states: “Focus on what matters – employment, equity, environmental sustainability. … The fiscal balance will just be whatever it is – a relatively uninteresting and irrelevant statistical artifact.”

Larry Kazdan Vancouver


Bill Morneau’s fiscal update reveals what many suspected: The cupboard is actually pretty bare.

Perhaps the government kneecapped itself by making good on promised tax cuts. The majority of taxpayers will save about $300 a year so that, in the words of the Minister for Middle Class Prosperity, Canadians can “send their kids to play hockey or even have different activities” – at a cost of about $6-billion a year. The trade-off? Likely our promised pharmacare program, estimated at $3.5-billion in the first year.

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What a shame that we seem to be blowing an opportunity to strengthen our country’s social fabric to put a few more dollars in people’s pockets.

Dale Hildebrand Toronto


Stephen Harper raised pension eligibility from 65 to 67, recognizing that we are living longer today. Justin Trudeau reduced the eligibility back to 65, for what seemed to be purely electoral reasons. And Bill Morneau discovers that the deficit has to increase because of pension costs!

Joe O’Brien Halifax

The education impasse

Re One-day Strike By High School Teachers At Some Ontario Boards A ‘Virtual Certainty’: Union President (Online, Dec. 17): As an average small-business owner and senior eking out a living, I highly object to the shenanigans of the teachers, the union and the government in Ontario.

Services such as education should be considered necessary and have continuing contracts that ensure benefits and fair wages to all teachers. Teachers set examples for our youth but, at the moment, both sides of the contract dispute are exhibiting bullying tactics that only serve to imbue our young people with the wrong message about what it means to work hard and be paid fairly for it.

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Teachers and bureaucrats both enjoy favourable work situations compared with many of the working public. If they want to hang on to their work-life balance, they should set an example and work things out.

Marian Kingsmill Dundas, Ont.


If you put one crab in a bucket, it can get out. If there are more than one, none can get out because those on the bottom will pull down those on top. It’s a very human phenomenon, too. It seems strange that many discussions about Ontario teachers’ pay can be boiled down to: “They get more than me; take it away from them,” rather than “we should all have the same.”

For benefits, this could be a conversation about expanding national health care to include pharmacare and dental. This would reduce costs for everybody.

For holidays, this could be a conversation about how Canadians get less than half the holidays of many European countries. There should be more time off for all.

For salary, it could be that everyone should get raises that match inflation. Should this not be the norm?

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But like crabs in a bucket, we seem to pull each other down, rather than help each other rise up and escape this petty bucket that entraps our imagination.

Dan Moore Peterborough, Ont.


I found it. Nirvana. Wednesdays off. Seriously. I was on strike last week – my first one. The money lost was well invested. In fact, from a health perspective, it was the best money I never spent.

Holiday Mondays depress the heck out of me, it’s like a double dose of the Sunday blues. But Wednesdays off? Now this I could get used to. Work your hide off for two days, take a day off, then work two more and – voila – it’s the weekend before you know it.

I bet this formula would be a million times more productive, and healthy, than a five-day work week. So cut my salary by 20 per cent in exchange for Wednesdays off. Invest the savings in job creation, job security and balanced budgets. Problem solved.

Glendon Rayworth Psy.D, C.Psych, School Psychologist; Toronto

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