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Andrew Scheer, right, is congratulated by Maxime Bernier after being elected the new leader of the federal Conservative party at the federal Conservative leadership convention in Toronto on May 27, 2017.

The Canadian Press

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:

Capital C

Re Do Canadian Conservatives Even Know What Conservatism Means? (Opinion, Dec. 28): Whether the Conservatives know what conservatism means any more or not, small-C conservatives certainly do. We want a party that will shape the times, not one that will merely move with the times.

Ricardo Di Cecca Burlington, Ont.

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Capital idea

Re Hey Canada, Mind The New Generation Gap (Editorial, Dec. 27): Congratulations to The Globe for raising the idea of taxing capital gains on principal residences. To make a new tax more palatable to the majority of taxpayers, perhaps a lifetime exemption of $500,000 could be implemented. Undoubtedly, I believe such a tax would put the brakes to the rampant speculation in our major urban centres and end the practice of serial developers who build and own homes for a very short period of time, making what should be business income into tax-free capital gains.

Richard Austin Toronto

Congratulations on recognizing that taxing capital gains on the sale of principal residences would be a fiscally sound measure. I shall argue that this $6-billion, and a good deal more, should be directed away from our largest cities and toward our smaller communities.

I believe the exemption of gains on principal residences drives an enormous wedge between rural and urban Canada. Governments and businesses are constantly subsidizing our largest cities using taxes paid by all Canadians. Our major schools and hospitals are built there without commensurate effort to improve employment prospects, education and health services elsewhere. We suck people and resources out of the hinterland and into urban centres, then proceed to spend even greater sums improving the infrastructure in these destinations.

Canada is not alone: Brexit is the reaction of a deprived hinterland to decades of economic policy that has disproportionately favoured London. The rise of Donald Trump is a reaction of the heartland to the generations of coddling of major U.S. cities, many of which have become Democratic enclaves.

We should ensure that our smaller centres remain good places for young people to live and raise families. Otherwise, we too may become so polarized along the urban-rural axis that we invite exactly the kinds of unrest we decry in the United States and Britain.

Patrick Cowan Toronto

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Capital, lack thereof

Re Canadians’ Debt Burden Rises, Sparking Concern (Online, Dec. 13): I’m a licensed insolvency trustee, and the rising rate of personal insolvencies – despite the jobless rate near an all-time low and some of the strongest wage gains in years – is not at all confounding.

The vast majority of my clients are employed, with many in that subset earning very good incomes. Despite this, they come to my practice in search of debt relief because over the past few years, the rate of increase in housing costs has greatly exceeded the rate of increase in wages.

My average client spends between 40 per cent to 50 per cent of their income on rent or the carrying costs of home ownership. And after accounting for transportation and groceries, there isn’t much money left over for servicing credit-card payments and other unsecured debt. Consequently, they end up seeing someone in my profession for debt relief.

Victor Fong President, Fong and Partners; Toronto

'Tis the season

Re O Come, All Ye Ache-full: The ER Is Open (Dec. 24): I challenge columnist André Picard’s suggestion that hospitals do not gear up to accommodate the forecastable seasonal demand.

Hospitals can only work within their funded means. By legislation, hospitals may not run deficits and cannot unilaterally staff up for seasonal surges or just add beds. In Ontario, the government has been providing additional in-year funding to accommodate seasonal demand, but getting highly qualified staff for short-term employment is not as easy as hiring seasonal staff in a retail environment. Hospitals plan for the flu season months ahead of its arrival and do everything possible to free up bed space and add staff on a planned, programmed basis.

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I believe the provincial government’s move to establish Ontario Health Teams, which are custom-designed to support the geographic areas they serve, is the best hope for a radically new health-service delivery model. Bringing together the private and public sector to comprehensively cover regional health needs offers the potential to redefine roles and to have hospitals positioned to deal with what they were designed for.

Stuart Wright Board chair, Quinte Health Care; Trenton, Ont.

Before Bill 21

Re Ottawa’s Blind Eye To Quebec’s Prejudice (Opinion, Dec. 28): Bill 21 seems to have derailed the career hopes of religious minorities who are made to feel like second-class citizens. As a retired senior community relations agent at Canadian Heritage, I take an interest in this exclusionary action within our rich diversity.

I was in a lead action to help modify the RCMP dress code whereby Sikh Canadians could wear their religious and cultural turban. After much national debate, the issue went to the Supreme Court, which clearly ruled in favour of the turban’s inclusion in the dress code. This was, indeed, a historic decision.

The Quebec government should learn from such exemplary incidents of the full expression of religious freedom and the respect for cultural diversity that is embodied in the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. There should really be no need to reinvent the wheel.

Roman Mukerjee Ottawa

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No substitutions

Re Prem Watsa Tried To Revive A Food Giant. The Turnaround Has Hit A Wall (Report on Business, Dec. 23): Perhaps chief executive officer Frank Hennessey could suggest the next board meeting of Recipe Unlimited be held at Swiss Chalet. The experience might provide them with some insight that bank analysts seem to lack, and might even be a reminder of what business they are supposed to be in.

My gang’s local Chalet used to have a lineup out the door on Tuesday nights. Then Recipe decided to “improve” the place. It now boasts a ghastly generic decor with no relationship to the restaurant’s name or its cuisine; new dinner plates too small for entrées; no side plates for one’s dinner roll; and a previously dependable garden salad that has morphed into mainly iceberg lettuce and, well, iceberg lettuce.

Should Mr. Hennessey and his colleagues opt for a Festive Special while they meet, I am sure they will notice the marked upside of their “improvements” – the lineups at the door are shorter.

Helen Thibodeau Cobourg, Ont.

Let bylines be bygones

Re I’ve Had It With Those Guys Who Think Christmas ‘Just Happens’ (First Person, Dec. 24): Hilarious, but I had to look twice to see if my wife was the author.

John Cadiz Toronto

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