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The damage done

Re SNC Outcome Allows Company To Finally Move Forward (Report on Business, Dec. 19): It’s worth noting that SNC-Lavalin, including hundreds of related companies, remains debarred from bidding on any project with financing from the World Bank, or any of the other four major international development banks. These are key participants for raising the trillions of dollars needed for the infrastructure needs of the developing world.

Their mutual debarment was agreed at 10 years, with four remaining.

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Michael Robinson Toronto

Back to back

Re Madrid Ends In Failure As Key Climate Decisions Delayed (Report on Business, Dec. 16): Let me introduce Version 2.0 of the Justin Trudeau climate playbook.

Version 1.0 was released shortly after the Paris Agreement in 2015. What followed looked to be a complicated climate dance where Mr. Trudeau tried to convince Canadians that pipelines help transition to a green economy. By the way, V1.0 included the purchase of our own pipeline for a cool $4.5-billion.

Roll forward to the 2019 climate summit in Madrid. Canada announced a few lofty goals: legislating a net-zero 2050 target, a just-transition act, strengthening our 2030 commitments. But behind the scenes Canada was exposed as a climate laggard, ranking 55th out of the 61 biggest countries in climate performance.

Now back from Spain, Mr. Trudeau must decide on Teck’s Frontier oil sands megamine, which would add a whopping six megatonnes of pollution each year.

Call me crazy, but here’s my wild prediction: Mr. Trudeau will approve the Teck project. The difference between V1.0 and V2.0 is that now we’re in a climate emergency.

Roland Montpellier Kanata, Ont.

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Fixing child welfare

Re One Night Led To Years Of Pain: Canada’s Broken Child-welfare System (Folio, Dec. 14): Reporter Nancy Macdonald’s powerful telling of one woman’s fight to keep her family intact is rife with heartbreakingly familiar details. Since the opening of my constituency office in the summer of 2017, we have had a steady stream of grieving parents – many of them Indigenous – who report feeling powerless against losing their children to a child-protection system that seems punitive, discriminatory, complex and unyielding.

Data show that outcomes for children taken into care decline: They are less likely to graduate, more likely to experience physical or sexual assault and more likely to end up homeless or incarcerated. This evidence should be enough motivation to shift a significant portion of funding away from so-called protection and instead invest in supports that will keep children with their parents, and help communities heal from intergenerational harm.

This past September, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal recognized yet another generation of Indigenous children “willfully and recklessly” harmed by Canada’s child-welfare system, and ordered compensation to families. The courage of Stacey to share her story should move all of us to demand immediate change to a system that is creating both unimaginable suffering for families and enormous costs to all of society.

Sonia Furstenau MLA for Cowichan Valley; Duncan, B.C.


When I worked as a teacher of the deaf, I talked to an Indigenous woman about helping with her newborn. Had she accepted, I would have made trips north to visit the family in their community and helped with hearing aids and language development.

Part of the paperwork was her signing a consent form allowing me to help. Once that was explained, the only question the mother kept asking was: “Are you going to take my baby away?” Any reassurances that I was not with Children’s Aid was met with hesitation. She did finally sign the consent, but I was never successful in contacting her again.

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This makes me think that many more Indigenous families live in fear of being targeted by the child-welfare system. How many children are pulled out of homes and schools and suffer from being separated from their parents? Shouldn’t the focus be on education and marriage counselling for parents if their children are safe and happy?

Deborah McLean Iroquois, Ont.

Analyzing Alberta

Re We Ignore Alberta Anxiety At Our Peril (Opinion, Dec. 14): The locus of anxiety is clear: Columnist Robyn Urback writes that male youth unemployment in Alberta is more than 50 per cent higher than in Ontario and growing rapidly.

However, the sole prescription seems to lie in supporting the oil industry, as “telling young Alberta men to move or find work in other fields will only fuel their feelings of ostracism.” As with the deep cultural attachment to the sea and fisheries in Atlantic provinces, it is understandable to cherish traditionally masculine and well-paid work. But given projections of uncertain oil demand past 2030, shouldn’t we also consider long-term solutions? In 2006, during an oil boom, Ralph Klein gave each Albertan $400 instead of investing to diversify the Alberta economy. Provincial politicians seem reliant on dispensing “cakes and ale” with a low-tax ideology based on the gooey delusion of perpetual oil revenue.

Interestingly, Alberta voters may have more diverse views than government and business leaders. An October, 2019, Angus Reid survey reported that a surprising 38 per cent of Albertans supported the current or increased carbon tax. Perhaps the youth of Alberta deserve to hear more from this sizable, forward-thinking minority.

Chester Fedoruk Toronto

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I believe columnist Robyn Urback sends the wrong message in characterizing Albertans as helplessly bullied by a need to address global warming. Rather, I’ve found that jobs are disappearing because oil producers have accelerated their strategy of displacing workers with technology.

Suncor’s layoffs reached 1,700 in 2015. Chief executive Steve Williams told investors the company’s search for “operational excellence for perfection” meant workers had to go. Suncor pioneered driverless trucks eliminating a further 400 jobs in 2018. Cenovus almost doubled production but laid off more than 2,500. Canadian Natural Resources redlined 400 jobs through attrition.

Big Oil seems to have decided Alberta’s males are disposable. Had Alberta protected its people – as occurred in Norway – perhaps there would be enough money to support displaced workers through the transition.

We should all pull together in the most humane way we know how if we expect to deal with the fallout from rising temperatures. Let’s not fuel the fire of divisiveness in a generation of Albertans. Continuing to pander to a sense of entitlement and seeking scapegoats will likely only keep them from growing up.

Robyn Allan Economist; Whistler, B.C.

Christmas package

Re Overpackaged (Report on Business, Dec. 14): “The season of goodwill.” “The hap-happiest time of the year.” Christmas has been described in many ways, not all of them complimentary. However, the most accurate description of a 21st-century Christmas came from reporter Susan Krashinsky Robertson’s article.

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It’s right on the button on so many levels: “This plastic festival of consumerism” says it all.

Dave Ashby Toronto


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