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China’s population shrank in 2022 for the first time since the Mao-era famine, pointing to a demographic crisis that will dominate the agenda of the country’s leaders in coming years.STR/AFP/Getty Images

Get down

Re Demographic Crisis On Horizon As China’s Population Declines (Jan. 18): Poor China, down to its last 1.41175 billion people. Near extinction.

Undoubtedly, China’s economy will face challenges as a smaller working population supports a much larger retired population. But that is hardly unknown to nations such as Japan.

China has a long lead time to deal with the problem and the government has a wide range of options, including cuts to wasteful programs and especially its military.

Larry Rose Peterborough, Ont.

Given that increased global population has resulted in more pollution, environmental degradation, species extinction and global warming, one would think that lower birth rates are moving in the direction of averting crisis – not creating one.

Andrew Vanderwal Toronto

Bill, please

Re Morneau’s Talents Were Wasted In Ottawa (Opinion, Jan. 14) and Paths To Prosperity (Report on Business, Jan. 14): I found Bill Morneau’s book an insightful look into the inner workings of the Trudeau government. After five years, he realized that the Prime Minister’s Office had no interest in monetary policy other than for the votes it could buy.

Mr. Morneau offers suggestions to increase our country’s productivity, but all of them require courageous leadership. We would be well served if Mr. Morneau were still in cabinet.

I cannot help but wonder how many other talented MPs have quit, or just feel unappreciated by Justin Trudeau.

Tim Hall Aurora, Ont.

For the life of me, I can’t make any sense of the enthusiasm being splashed about for Bill Morneau, his book or his possible return to politics.

As finance minister, Mr. Morneau was surprised there was so much short-term political thinking in the Prime Minister’s Office. Really? I found every observation cited from his book to be one banality after another.

Mr. Morneau has “business credentials.” He sure does – at a firm his father started. The kids today would call him a “nepo baby.” (So are Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford, but that’s a whole other conversation.)

If Mr. Morneau returns to political life, he’ll be welcomed by people who seem to think governing a country is just like managing a human-resources firm. It would be a disaster for anybody seeking inspired, responsible thinking to take Canada into the future.

Peter Mountford Hamilton

If you build it

Re Why I’m Welcoming A Housing Crash (Opinion, Jan. 21): The claim that Canada does not face a housing shortage should be put to bed.

Canada’s housing-stock-to-population ratio is in the bottom 40 per cent of countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. France, for example, has approximately 38 per cent more units of housing per thousand people than Canada.

Contributor John Rapley argues that there is not a Canadian housing shortage because the level of housing stock relative to population has not changed much over the years. But this should only mean that a bad undersupply has remained bad.

I find the anti-construction NIMBYs are wrong. Canada’s notoriously overheated demand for housing has an obvious solution, and it is to build more houses.

Eric Protzer Senior research fellow, Harvard University’s Growth Lab; Cambridge, Mass.

Before and after

Re A Weight-loss Drug Everyone Wants Is Exposing Myths About Obesity (Jan. 14): The old story about an ounce of prevention being equivalent to a pound of cure seems appropriate when considering weight-loss drugs, and the rapid increase of the disease known as obesity.

Preventive measures such as seat belts and smoking bans have been far more effective at preventing death from motor vehicle accidents and lung cancers than improved medicines and surgical procedures, yet obesity prevention doesn’t seem to inspire the same impetus compared to new medical treatments for after the disease has progressed.

Certainly, the interests of pharmaceutical companies do not lie with prevention.

David Barker MD (retired); Whitby, Ont.

Inherent vice

Re Alcohol-use Guidelines Advise Fewer Drinks (Jan. 17): My takeaway from the new alcohol intake guidelines is how different this approach is to the well-documented evolution of tobacco warnings over the decades.

Warnings on cigarette packages came extremely late in the game. Tobacco bans for television ads, billboards and sports sponsorships happened long before tobacco companies were forced by legislation to put warnings on their products.

As long as the federal government allows alcohol peddlers to have advertising right that tobacco companies no longer have, the average Canadian is unlikely to be influenced to change their alcohol consumption because of a label on a bottle.

Trevor Amon Victoria

One for all

Re The Long Takeoff Of Skyrocketing Food Prices (Opinion, Jan. 13): In 2006, I invested $50 to become what today is one of 15,000 owners of my grocery store: the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, B.C.

The profit at my grocery store is not a mystery nor a point of contention. As a co-operative, our profit remains right here in Nelson, reinvested back into the store or returned to customers.

Just last week, I received $9 as my share of profit, calculated as a percentage of my purchases. That $9 is a powerful symbol, a message from my grocery store that reads, “Dear, Jon: We’re sorry we charged you a little more than necessary this past year and we’d like to return some of that excess.”

The co-operative model democratizes the economy and democratizes grocery shopping. From Grise Fiord, Nunavut, to Clarenville, Nfld., and Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, it offers Canadians the opportunity to hold grocery stores accountable – to us.

Jon Steinman Author, Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants Nelson, B.C.

Taste test

Re Copenhagen’s Noma Shuttered Because Fine Dining Is Dying (Report on Business, Jan. 14): Admittedly I have never dined at Noma, but have routinely been disappointed by “high-end” dining experiences.

While I agree about the underlying demographic and economic factors leading to the restaurant’s demise, I part ways with cultural analysis that seems based on a Eurocentric definition of fine dining, which permits $30 plates of pasta while bemoaning as unreasonable any plate of noodles in Chinatown costing more than $6.

Thankfully, social media has made accessible alternative voices who have guided me to outstanding food experiences in Toronto’s outer suburbs. All the better if completed in an atmosphere where I don’t understand the language and use wooden utensils, while wearing an elasticized waist.

Stephen Halman Toronto

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