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Letters to the Editor July 10: More eyes on transit dangers. Plus other letters to the editor

The bus stop at Calgary's Sandstone Drive and Berkshire Boulevard NW, where a young woman was violently attacked while waiting for a bus.

Todd Korol/for The Globe and Mail

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: letters@globeandmail.com

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An eye on transit

It appears that using transit systems in Canadian cities is much more dangerous than I realized (Thousands Of Transit Passengers Target Of Sexual Violence Between 2013 And 2017, Globe Analysis Finds, July 9).

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This article once again highlights the vulnerability for women in our society, and in particular it suggests that poor training of transit staff and a lack of safety infrastructure are contributing to passenger risk.

While the overall use of CCTV in some cities around the world hasn’t shown conclusive safety benefits, it has shown to be successful in public transit areas, specifically. A 2009 meta-analysis of 44 studies showed when CCTV surveillance was used in public transit systems, there was a 23-per-cent drop in crime in those areas.

Cameras on transit vehicles and at stops, and staff who know how to interpret the recordings, are needed to make those places safer.

Marlene Schellenberg, Winnipeg

Plastics predicament

“Bioplastics” is a misleading term that epitomizes green washing (Businesses Face Challenge Of Managing Bioplastics, July 9).

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry discourages the use of this term as it implies the product is environmentally friendly and superior to petrochemical-based products. It recommends the term “biobased polymers.”

Use of food crops to produce biofuels has driven up food prices around the globe. This product will likely have the same effect.

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Bioplastics do not have the versatility of petrochemical products and compose less than 1 per cent of plastics production. They are not carbon neutral. It would be wiser to change our approach to single use products. Do we really need to buy cases of plastic bottles of water to drink in homes and offices that already have safe, palatable and much, much cheaper water?

Moses Shuldiner, Toronto

Root of food inequity

Re Curbside Cupboards Aim To Tackle Local Food Insecurity (July 8):

For decades, Canadians have stepped up to help neighbours struggling with food insecurity. But while grassroots interventions are a moving testimony to peoples’ compassion, we must keep focused on progressive income security policies and living wages that will ensure people can afford the food they need.

Accurate data on the problem is the first step. The food bank usage numbers cited in the article vastly under-represent the scale of the problem, as research from the University of Toronto’s PROOF project has found. Close to four million people in Canada are food insecure – most don’t use food banks because of stigma or service barriers.

Yes, action is needed to address food insecurity. But that action must ultimately come from more inclusive public policy and a more just economy, not the curb.

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Nick Saul, chief executive officer, Community Food Centres Canada, Toronto

Fumbled fund

A letter writer suggests Alberta Premier Jason Kenney study Norway’s sovereign wealth fund to understand its success (Lessons From Norway, July 9).

Ironically, Norway’s fund (created in the early 1990s) was based on Alberta’s heritage fund (created in 1976). Then-premier Peter Lougheed had a clear vision of what the fund should be. Unfortunately, his predecessors mismanaged the fund.

I’m certain that former and current overseers will lament that the fund’s condition is the fault of unfriendly federal regimes. But an honest examination will prove they have no one to blame but themselves for the heritage fund’s present state.

Agostino Di Millo, Toronto

Alberta’s taxes are responsible for approximately $250-billion of the federal equalization program. That money, saved even at simple interest, would rival Norway’s trust fund. Alberta shares.

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What do we get for sharing with Canada? Scorn. I would be happy with a simple thank you. Anyone wonder why Western alienation is alive and well and Mr. Kenney was elected promising to defend Alberta?

Dan Petryk, Calgary

Old age, new thinking

Margaret Wente recently addressed our aging brains (My Declining Years – And Yours, July 6).

Yes, our powers of abstract thinking decline. By the time we reach 65, we can’t keep up with the “kids” in their 30s. That certainly happened to me. But abstract thinking isn’t the only valuable kind of thought. There can be a compensating awareness of context, with sensitivity to and understanding of the myriad factors which shape our reality, in organizations and in society.

After 65, I began to pay attention to urban planning, instructing courses at Ryerson University’s LIFE Institute in Toronto, helping to start our neighbourhood association and contributing to a number of downtown Toronto plans. That required a contextual awareness that would have been beyond me in my 30s.

Our third age can provide opportunities for meaningful contribution. But don’t expect abstract thinking to be central to that contribution.

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Robert Fabian, Toronto

Fame no exemption

Re Malala Could Not Teach In Quebec With Head Scarf, Premier Says (July 9):

Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious symbols in the public sector, is a contemptible law, pandering to contemptible attitudes. Malala Yousafzai is a brave, inspiring young woman.

But what magical thinking does it take to assume Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge “made a mistake” in saying the law would apply to her if she were to teach in Quebec? How does this thinking extend to asking Premier François Legault to reaffirm this?

A contemptible law doesn’t become less contemptible because it exempts the famous and inspiring. If anything, it becomes worse. And I doubt Ms. Yousafzai would want it to exempt her anyway while others are forced to choose between religion and career.

Tom Sullivan, Toronto

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Was never meant to be

With hindsight, it is obvious to see that Kawhi Leonard made up his mind to move back to California long ago (Leonard Heads To L.A., Butler To Miami After Weekend Of Free-Agency Deals, July 8). What other explanation could there be for his reluctance to allow any emotional attachment to his admiring fan base?

We read this as stoicism. He did his utmost for us on the court for the Toronto Raptors while maintaining emotional distance so that we would not fall too much in love with him just to be disappointed when the inevitable was revealed.

Laurie Kochen, Toronto

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