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Cross-border transport trucks cross paths on the Peace Bridge at the Canada-U.S. border in Buffalo, New York, on Jan. 10, 2018.HYUNGWON KANG/Reuters

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The places they’ll go

Re Pandemic Problems (Letters, Jan. 24): I am nearly 75 and still hold a valid A driver’s licence. I have been in the trucking industry since 1971. Truckers are not “sitting alone in their trucks all day,” as a letter-writer believes.

Truckers go into dispatch offices, warehouses, truck stops, public washrooms, coffee shops, repair shops, scale houses, etc., and occasionally, home. Need I go on?

Peter Bryan Welland, Ont.

Russian reasoning

Re Putin’s Paranoia (Opinion, Jan. 22): Vladimir Putin’s bellicose position may be a cynical tactic, attempting to reproduce the 2014 “Crimea effect” that saw his flagging popularity increase by 20 per cent.

An April, 2021, article in Foreign Policy cites changes in Russian attitudes: Positive opinions of the United States rose from 28 per cent in 2016 to 40 per cent in 2021. Of young people, 58 per cent are positive, while only 30 per cent of Russians over 55 feel similarly. Those with fond memories of Russian might are being replaced by those whose lasting perceptions are of economic stagnation, corruption and political repression.

Although receptivity for another round of aggression may be lower than in 2014, Mr. Putin may have no other option after attempts at internal reforms, such as a 2018 proposal to raise the retirement age, proved disastrous. Desperation, rather than delusion, seems to be the driving factor.

We should be worried.

Chester Fedoruk Toronto

For any chance to blunt Russian forces, Ukraine would need defensive weapons, especially shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from Western countries – including Canada. And, yes, troops to support them.

Howard Teasley Vancouver

Common practice

Re Why Rohingya Asylum Seekers Are Trapped In Legal Limbo (Jan. 19): I hadn’t realized how harsh Australia’s asylum system is until reading this article.

It might interest readers that Boris Johnson’s government is setting up an equivalent British system, restricting the ability to claim asylum and making a hostile environment even more hostile. It is likely that detentions will increase, asylum seekers will remain in self-contained camps, and a new temporary status will prevent many refugees from ever feeling secure in their new country.

It is hoped that a community sponsorship program might open Australian hearts to refugees. Britain has had a version of Canada’s sponsorship scheme for some years. Unfortunately take-up is low, and it hasn’t prevented government from believing that demonization is a vote-winner. The new law undermines asylum seekers by positioning them as “illegal” and resettled and sponsored refugees as “good.”

Leslie Topp Toronto

Test time

Re New-era Senate Won’t Be Tested Until Tories Have Power (Jan. 21): A new governing party in Ottawa has always been a defining moment for a Senate largely appointed by the former government. However, I believe the first real test of Trudeau-appointed, but nominally independent, senators is already upon us.

Unburdened by electoral considerations and beyond the disciplinary reach of Liberal party whips, these senators can choose to do what is right, rather than what is momentarily popular. Senators’ perspectives may or may not broadly align with those of the government, but all that should be secondary.

The real test of a senator’s independence should be whether they vote based on their view of national interests, irrespective of that of the government.

Eric LeGresley Ottawa

Ethical investing

Re In A ‘Woke’ And Weary World, Larry Fink Stays Focused On A Kinder, Gentler Greed (Report on Business, Jan. 20): One doesn’t have to dig too deep into the portfolio of Larry Fink’s Blackrock to see huge investments in China. It makes the environmental, social and governance cloak they flaunt seem quite thin.

Rob Woodward Sarnia, Ont.

Re Oil Is Enjoying A Bull Market. Energy Stocks Need To Catch Up (Report on Business, Jan. 20): Given the need to rapidly reduce fossil fuel consumption to avert catastrophic global heating, I wonder whether there should be a toning down of enthusiasm about the recent surge in oil stocks.

The “good news” and “impressive rebounds” of an “increasingly upbeat” oil market is only tempered by concern about the “risks” posed by “environmentally conscious institutional investors,” and “a shift toward renewable energy.” Framing such a long-overdue transition as a “risk” unhelpfully deflects attention away from a much graver danger facing humanity.

Michael Polanyi Toronto

Inflation indeed

Re The Headline Panic Over Inflation Doesn’t Match Realities On The Ground (Report on Business, Jan. 20): I find that this rather rosy picture of price inflation in Canada does not square with other figures Statistics Canada provides respecting household debt.

The ratio of debt-to-income in Canadian households has been increasing more rapidly than even consumer prices have been rising. Many homeowners have borrowed against their properties; the resulting spending poured into economy without a corresponding increase in supply.

In this way, increasing housing prices affect many more Canadians than just first-time homebuyers. Anyone can easily default on their mortgage. When lenders finally wake up, they will either stop lending or demand higher interest rates. That is when economic activity throughout the land, even in the public sector, would have to contract.

That is when everyone would ask what our political leaders were thinking when they continued for so long to spend like drunken sailors.

Patrick Cowan Toronto

My Kiwanis club members have been hyperventilating, but not about inflation. We are alarmed by the ever-increasing use of food banks and food kitchens, increasing homelessness and the need to subsidize postsecondary students, wheelchair athletes, hospitals and basic school programs.

We are alarmed that our children and grandchildren can’t find affordable housing, and that our nurses are prevented from getting higher wages. And we are alarmed that some politicians are willing to make all our worries worse in order to reduce inflation.

Joseph Polito Kingsway Humber Kiwanis Club, Toronto

Re A Wage-driven Inflation Spiral Is No Certainty, But It’s A Key Risk To Weigh (Report on Business, Jan. 17): Royal Bank of Canada’s David McKay says that “we’ve never really gone back as a society and reduced wages because inflation was temporary.” If inflation declines, price levels still rises, albeit more slowly. Why should workers not expect their wages to keep up with a higher price level?

If, amazingly, inflation were to be eliminated, would Mr. McKay wish workers to take a wage cut while price levels remain the same? Nevertheless, if Mr. McKay is still worried about “a more persistent pressure from the wage component,” he can always set a personal example.

Irene Kellow Ip Ottawa

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