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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney delivers remarks at a conference in Calgary on February 26, 2020. Mr. Kenney's budget plans have sparked a debate among Albertans.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

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One for all

Re Conservative Conundrum (Letters, March 6): I believe a letter-writer is mistaken in saying that returning the federal carbon tax as a per-capita dividend makes the policy ineffective.

Some people have no low-cost ways to reduce emissions; they can’t trade in for a more fuel-efficient vehicle, take transit or cut marginal trips. Because high-income households spend more on fossil fuels (being less sensitive to gas prices) and thus pay a disproportionate share of the tax, the result of returning that amount equally is that about 70 per cent of households come out ahead, even if they can’t cut emissions at all. For people who can, their incentive is to collect the dividend and save money by continuing to reduce their fuel consumption. This should lower Canada’s total output.

The question is whether the Conservatives will accept this, or continue trying to change the subject.

Russil Wvong Vancouver

PEI to Quebec

Re The Politics Of Voting In Quebec (Editorial, March 6): Speaking from painful experience after three failed provincial referendums or plebiscites on electoral reform, allow me to make a few suggestions to François Legault.

First, stipulate from the outset a strong threshold for acceptance, and stay away from 50 per cent plus one.

Second, pick a single model, such as mixed-member proportional, and make it a simple yes-or-no proposition.

Third, introduce a multi-pronged public-education campaign no less than one year before the referendum.

Fourth, spell out how party-list candidates will be chosen; avoid the use of suspect committees to explore both yes and no positions; encourage the media to engage in spirited debate.

Fifth, reassure rural communities that their electoral weight (and voice) will not be diminished.

Lastly, and most important: If not all mainline parties agree on the need for reform, it is probably best to shelve the idea until a consensus is reached.

In the absence of these recommendations, at least on Prince Edward Island, the whole process tends to descend into little more than a political gong show.

Peter McKenna Professor of political science, University of Prince Edward Island; Charlottetown

A tax upon you

Re An Alberta Budget Still Betting On Oil (Editorial, March 5): The UCP government astounds me. It will balance Alberta’s debt with cuts to education, health care and parks while offering tax incentives to large companies. Has it considered all options to balance the coffers?

Why not propose a sales tax? God forbid we consider this, an Albertan might shudder. But Jason Kenney would be the first to take a swipe at other premiers, Indigenous leaders and the Prime Minister about their perceived lack of interest in the well-being of Albertans. I think he should stand up and demonstrate leadership in these challenging times.

Catherine Moore Canmore, Alta.

When will Alberta turn its focus to diversifying the provincial economy? It might be politically easier than bringing in a sales tax.

Susan Morrison Kelowna, B.C.

Virus policies

Re Experts Criticize Ontario Virus Policy (March 4): The article refers to mounting evidence that shows COVID-19 spreads through droplets. However, the Public Health Agency of Canada has stated that “significant additional information is still required … to fully understand how the disease is transmitted." It is precisely because we do not yet fully understand how the disease is transmitted that the United States, European Union and Britain recommend health-care workers use airborne precautions when caring for patients who may have COVID-19. This means they should wear, at minimum, a fit-tested N-95 respirator. This is what Chinese health-care workers are now wearing, according to the World Health Organization.

I believe Ontario and other international jurisdictions are correctly following the precautionary principle. This holds that when there is scientific uncertainty about the transmission and severity of a virus, one should err on the side of safety. PHAC should follow Ontario’s lead to avoid needless risk to workers and the public.

Linda Silas President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions; Ottawa

No more

Re Ontario Won’t Renew Extra Funding For Sexual-assault Centres, Advocates Say (March 5): The failure of Ontario to renew extra funding for sexual-assault centres seems nothing more and nothing less than the revictimization of the vulnerable. I find it beyond tragic that the government has no appreciation for the lifetime of pain mostly women will endure. To go from victim to survivor is difficult enough without cutting off a potential lifeline.

Marvin Zuker Toronto

High time

Re Ontario Providing $20-million Boost For Psychotherapy Access (March 2) and As Cannabis Stocks Cool, Will Psychedelic Drugs Be The Next Market Frenzy? (Report on Business, March 3): There is research from the United States, Canada, Israel and beyond that suggests a strong recovery rate for PTSD sufferers when psychotherapy is combined with the guided use of the psychoactive material MDMA. Psilocybin is also being studied thus. I find it too bad the Ontario government could not offer a combination of psychotherapy with MDMA or psilocybin for more positive effects.

Well-known in psychedelic support circles is that one well-guided trip with MDMA or psilocybin may affect inner healing that psychotherapy alone does not. For me, one guided trip with legal ayahuasca brought profound inner healing unaddressed in 15 years of psychotherapy.

Our laws, which criminalize these psychoactive substances, should be changed to make such deeper entheogenic healing legal and possible.

Katherine Kimbell Founding member, Ottawa Psychedelic Education Network

This is how we do it

Re The CRA Should Do Our Taxes For Us (Report on Business, March 6): We would need to have a lot of trust to let the government do our taxes, and columnist Rita Trichur has reason to complain about the complexity of the ordeal.

A few changes this year further complicate the procedure: Provincial tax papers are no longer pink, so one is forced to shuffle through all the forms to find information. Also, line 150, which used to be total income, is now line 15000. Is the government planning to complicate this process by a factor of 100?

I am a senior, and every year I sit down with pencil and calculator to work on my husband’s and my taxes. I refuse to buy a program or online service because it shouldn’t be necessary to pay to do taxes. It should be much simpler.

My main reason for doing taxes the old-fashioned way is to know how the system works. There is no way to truly find out other than to sit down with that pencil and calculator, and search through all those darned forms.

Leslie Martel Mississauga

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