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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Dec. 10, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Own it

Re Is ‘Owning The Libs’ All O’Toole’s Got? (Opinion, Dec. 19): Columnist Robyn Urback describes the flaws in Erin O’Toole’s “new” Conservative thinking as “silly and amateurish.” It should be described as uncivil, undemocratic and dangerous.

I believe such partisan language and strategies are not merely silly, but set the stage for the erosion of civil discourse. Mr. O’Toole seems to think nasty partisan talk will win him the next election. I certainly hope not.

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We have only to look at our neighbours to the south to see where uncivil talk can lead.

Katharina Czerny Ottawa

Re The Talk (Letters, Dec. 21): Erin O’Toole is not fresh out of school. He is a seasoned politician and the Leader of the Opposition. Saying that residential schools “became” a horrible program shows a gross lack of understanding of why they were formed in the first place.

His mind, therefore, should not have to be “changed,” as a letter-writer says. If it is Mr. O’Toole’s desire to be prime minister, then he proved sorely lacking in an area that many Canadians expect him to know better.

JoAnne Johnsen Toronto

Fight back

Re Court Rejects HBC Application For Lockdown Review (Report on Business, Dec. 21): A lawyer for the province of Ontario argued that government is not obligated to act fairly during this pandemic. I disagree. Whether managing a once-in-a-century event or day-to-day affairs, government can, and therefore should, act fairly toward individuals and businesses.

Our legal rights are not absolute, but fairness should be an ethical obligation. Instead, it feels like the Ontario Superior Court has opened the door to excuses for all manners of injustice against citizens.

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If we don’t object now, there may come a time when there will be no one left to speak out for us.

Kristina Bendikas London, Ont.

Public speaking

Re New Transit Is Possible. Just Ask Montreal (Editorial, Dec. 18): While offering praise, The Globe’s editorial also highlights significant problems with the REM, Montreal’s privatized light-rail megaproject.

It’s late and over budget (with the final tally still to come). It’s shrouded in secrecy. And it’s been designed from the ground up to meet the profit objectives of pension-fund owners, not public needs. This troubled project was also the first to receive support from the Liberal’s Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Now Michael Sabia, the man behind the REM and a major privatization advocate, is Canada’s deputy finance minister. He will help shape federal budgets and policies to steer our economy through a postpandemic recovery. There’s a real danger the same flawed REM model could spread to other cities.

It’s crucial we get the biggest bang for our buck on major infrastructure investments by keeping them fully public. The “big worries” that The Globe rightly identifies about the REM should stop further private, for-profit transit projects in their tracks.

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Mark Hancock National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees; Ottawa

True blue?

Re Ottawa’s Hydrogen Strategy Hinges On Tax Incentives, Private Investment (Report on Business, Dec. 16): Proponents of natural-gas-based hydrogen fuel would use carbon capture and storage to negate the pollution created in its production. However, they offer little evidence that CCS technology is economically scalable – and thus feasible – for the large-scale production that is foreseen.

These private projects may need some upfront boost for research, but they should not depend on continued public subsidies and incentives for their profit. Without adequate CCS, not only would we not meet our climate targets, but how would we apply the “polluter pays” principle? Will “blue hydrogen” become our next orphan wells?

Doug Green Toronto

Re Alberta, Oil Sector Laud Changes In Climate Plan (Report on Business, Dec. 14): We can all appreciate why the oil and gas sector would laud the removal of gaseous and solid fuels from the Clean Fuel Standard program. Losing investors in any industry is a problem. But the provinces and various oil and gas groups are not offering proven mitigation tools to help reduce carbon emissions.

Keeping all fuels in the CFS program would send a clear message to industry and encourage a more rapid change. We can’t lose sight of the rationale for doing all this.

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Ron Robinson Nelson, B.C.

No credit

Re MindGeek Suspends Unverified Content Across Its Platforms, Including Pornhub (Dec. 15): I’m glad that Mastercard and Visa have cancelled or suspended the use of credit cards on Pornhub. However, I believe the Criminal Code should be amended so that credit-card companies and other payment systems must forfeit any fees or other revenues from transactions involving child pornography or sexual assault. This should be a strict liability offence without any requirement that a company have knowledge that a criminal offence was involved.

There is also a distinction between a deterrent penalty and the forfeiture of revenue. Forfeiting fees would simply put a company back into a position as if those transactions never occurred. It should be liable for a deterrent penalty if it had knowledge that a transaction involved illegal content.

Bruce Couchman Ottawa

Too much

Re A Deadly Cocktail For Bars And Restaurants (Dec. 14): Contributor Christine Sismondo posits the social value derived from drinking in neighbourhood bars (along with the alcohol industry’s significant impact on the economy and taxation). There is no doubt of the social value in people gathering to talk and share their thoughts. But how imbibing alcohol helps or hinders this verbal intercourse seems debatable.

Conversely, consider the potential consequences of alcohol overconsumption: roadway carnage, intensive health interventions, domestic violence, lost workplace productivity and shortened lifespans. And during this pandemic, numerous “superspreaders” were traced back to group alcohol consumption where public-health guidelines were ignored.

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Perhaps it’s time for a sober second look at societal alcohol consumption.

Steve Sanderson Quispamsis, N.B.

Tap, tap

Re Journalists’ Phones Hacked By Saudis, UAE, Security Group Finds (Dec. 21): It used to be much simpler.

In the early 1960s, an activist acquaintance began hearing funny noises on her phone, and contacted the telephone company to complain that her phone was bugged. A few days later, she was contacted by an apparently conflicted company official, who reassured her that “there’s nothing wrong with your phone – you’re just upset because of your divorce.”

Greg Michalenko Waterloo, Ont.

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:

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