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Ambassador of China to Canada Lu Shaye says the bilateral relationship is at 'rock bottom' compared to any time since diplomatic ties were first established decades ago.Justin Tang/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:


ITB sense? Perfect sense

Re Critics Press Ottawa On Irving’s IRB Credit From French Fry Plant (May 31): People who hear of Canada’s system of Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRBs) – generically known as offsets, and since renamed the Industrial and Technological Benefits policy (ITB) – especially when they learn our government almost always requires 100 per cent of the procurement to be offset, invariably say, “Well, how could that make sense?”

As somebody who has been involved in the global offset business for 30 years, I’ll try to explain. It makes perfect sense. At least politically. And arguably perfect economic sense.

Governments the world over who spend public dollars want to ensure the benefits of procurement are spread over a diverse constituency. Canada’s policy is becoming more focused on the development of 16 Key Industrial Capabilities (KIC), which include areas of emerging technologies, and existing areas where Canada is already competent.

The policy is also becoming intensely more complex. Some in the industry say it is now the world’s most complex, as it attempts to be all things to all people (for example, requiring bidders to address Indigenous issues and gender diversity).

Drawing attention to French fry factories as being less important than, for example, AI or robotics investments, will not help bidders as they go about developing solid and economically beneficial ITB proposals, as one can only expect that bureaucrats will become more sensitive to optics, refusing good projects as costs to taxpayers increase.

While I am not familiar with the details of this particular investment, does employing AI and robotics in a French fry plant make them any less valuable?

Tim Runge, partner, Constructive Edge; Guelph, Ont.

Making (not-so) nice

Re China Needs To Listen To Its Own Speeches (editorial, May 29): In the phony war between Canada and China, China is acting like the worst kind of thug and it doesn’t seem to get it. It’s time to get out the big guns. A healthy public debate about the merits of official recognition of Taiwan and Tibet might get Chain’s attention. Most Canadians would likely support both as the right thing to do.

Rob Adams, Vancouver


China’s Ambassador to Canada has been rude, condescending, arrogant, threatening and otherwise downright offensive. So why have we not requested a new ambassador? Isn’t that normally what happens when a country is unhappy with another country’s representative?

Nelson Smith, Toronto

Oh, The lies pols tell

Re Oh, The Things Democracy Has To Put Up With (May 30): Your advocacy of immunizing politicians against being taken to court for spreading falsehoods is at best naive, at worse dangerous.

Democracy today across Europe, South and North America is being trampled upon by populist nationalist parties that are out to destroy democratic institutions in order to solidify unchecked, pseudo-autocratic power. There’s a simple and unfortunately proven recipe: Tap into voters’ populist grievances, anxieties and fears, direct it toward a foil (elites, immigrants, ethnic minorities), shower voters with outlandish promises delivered by a charismatic demagogue who has no intention or ability to deliver on them. Proceed to demonize the free press as “fake news” and seduce gullible voters to vote against their own interests.

This is no different than false advertising by corporations that lure consumers into buying their products under false pretenses, which is illegal. Following your advice is what created the Trumps, Bolsonaros, Salvinis, Orbans and Modis of the world.

Amnon Zohar, Toronto


In order to accept fibs and outright falsehoods as legitimate in political debate, your lamentable editorial fails to distinguish between facts and interpretations.

Of course pessimists and optimists may argue over calling the glass half-empty or half-full, but if they cannot agree on the factual measure of liquid in the glass, real debate is impossible.

Robert E. Czerny, Ottawa

AI’s human price

Re The Rise Of Artificial Intelligence Could Drive A Rise In Mental Illness (May 27): In an age when robots aren’t just calling us during dinner to ask if we’d like our ducts cleaned, it’s important to realize great changes to economic efficiency always come at a human price.

The Industrial Revolution may have given us the automobile and railways; factory production provided jobs. But the global move toward increased urbanization means local businesses and small towns suffer as a result of poor local support.

That said, will robots really affect us so negatively, or are we just Luddites by candlelight with poor vision?

On a small scale, when my local pharmacy and supermarket introduced self-check-in counters, I understood both sides of the argument. It’s faster, requires fewer or no cashiers, and some customers really don’t want to chit-chat over their purchases.

But then I thought of our increasingly isolated communities, where online shopping is surely convenient, but risks reducing social interaction, which all humans need. Would I rather a robot or a person come to my table to tell me the specials? A person surely. And what of older members of our society, whose outings to the grocery store are a significant source of social interaction? Would a robot do there?

Robots may be more efficient (unless there’s a power outage), but we risk forcing ourselves – and conversation and social interaction – into redundancy.

Catherine Brennan, Toronto

Narrow hate’s definition

Re On Campus, Unpopular Views Also Deserve A Platform (Opinion, May 25): Amy Lai says as long as speakers’ talks do not constitute hate speech or harassment, a marketplace of ideas would be facilitated. The problem is: Who defines hate speech and harassment? It seems that, these days, the social definition is based on no one getting offended.

At a university, ideas are discussed. Feelings are not ideas. You have to be willing to accept being offended in order to grow. Society has to accept a more narrow definition of hate so that people with different ideas can discuss them without fear.

Adrian Stonell, Oakville, Ont.

Nostalgia? No way

Re Millennials Are Making Motels Cool Again (May 22): What do you mean, “nostalgia”? Nostalgia, nothing!

Who likes dragging belongings into a lobby, then transporting them down a long corridor to find the allotted room? If we can find a motel, we go for one every time. Far better to park in front of your room and unload with relative ease. It’s far superior to all these multistoried buildings.

Maribel Conover, Mississauga

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