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Pols’ drinking water
Re Looser Rules Eyed for Oil-Sands Wastewater (May 20): The federal and Alberta governments are working on regulations that would define when oil-sands water is sufficiently non-toxic to be released into the Athabasca River.
This is a good idea. If we’re going to produce oil-sands oil, we can’t continue to stockpile the liquid byproducts forever. What I don’t understand is why setting the criteria for how non-toxic the water has to be is so complicated.
Clearly, it’s non-toxic enough when it can be piped into the parliamentary dining rooms in Ottawa and Edmonton. That seems a better measure than when it’s non-toxic enough to be dumped into the drinking water of the Indigenous people downstream.
Marc Grushcow, Toronto
As well as the humans who use the Athabasca River for drinking water, it sounds as though the federal government is willing to compromise the lives of millions of birds and fish in order to remove a fiscal liability. The Peace-Athabasca River Delta is designated as an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention. It’s too important to be treated as a science experiment to let industry and government off the financial hook.
Pamela Stagg, Picton, Ont.
Tourists’ wallets. Duh!
Re Ottawa To Launch New Tourism Strategy (May 21): With nearly two million Canadians employed in the tourism sector, Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly and the industry would do well to focus their efforts on encouraging more Canadians to travel within Canada. Why is air travel in Canada more than U.S. fares? Our passenger rail service is from the 19th century: It takes a week, sometimes longer, to cross this country.
In addition to targeting specific markets, Ms. Joly also needs to “target” the taxes and related fees on services charged on every tourist dollar spent. These are becoming a major barrier for many folks when they’re planning a trip and looking for “value.” When trips often include countless service “fees” by one or all three levels of government wanting in on the action is it any wonder staycations are increasingly popular?
After Parks Canada opened its parks to free admission in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, it recorded some of its highest visitor traffic. Duh! Such traffic also had a tremendous impact on support services around those parks, whether it was B&Bs, restaurants or shops. It didn’t cost millions to promote. It just took some imagination and governments to take their hands off the wallets of tourists.
Now, back to that high-speed passenger rail service. If we can buy pipelines … but I digress.
Leo J. Deveau, Halifax
Re Beware Those Who Flirt With Populism (editorial, May 20): The real problem with populists is that they try to impose simple solutions on complex problems. And that never works.
Linda Peritz, Vancouver
Your editorial suggests democracy-loving Canadians “ought to be wary of” populist politicians. Populism, the argument goes, “fuels distrust in institutions…[and] divides people into camps that cannot speak to each other.”
Ah, but it’s not populists who regularly thwart debate or refuse to engage in political dialogue. That would be the plenitude of brain-washed radicals who, in many venues and contexts, exercise that loathsome tactic known as “the heckler’s veto.” As for distrust of our democratic institutions, they frequently need little help from critics in engendering that distrust in the first place.
Wayne Eyre, Saskatoon
Rewrite art-sale rules
Re Canada Loses Steinberg Art Collection In Auction (May 18): If fine art of quality is imported into Canada, as in the case of the Arnold Steinberg family, Canadians have the benefit of its enjoyment when it is loaned to museums.
Affluent Canadians’ generosity of time, goods (including fine art), and money is the foundation of a number of institutions, including art museums. These people give voluntarily, for the benefit of Canadians. The recent fate of a painting by Gustave Caillebotte, under the scrutiny of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board (CCPERB), is evidence of bureaucracy running amok. It sounds an alarm for art collectors in Canada.
Affluent Canadians do not like to be subject to the whims of bureaucrats and tribunals when it comes to where, and at what price, they dispose of their goods. Canadians, including museums, were at liberty to purchase the art works that were exported to auction. At this rate, art collectors who have works that they may, one day, wish to export face: 1) exporting the art before it is subject to the CCPERB and its application of Section 33, which deals with the tax status of art, or 2) not bringing the art into Canada in the first place. The present application of Section 33 by CCPERB is to the long-term detriment of Canadians and Canadian museums, and requires a rewrite.
Alan Klinkhoff, Alan Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal and Toronto
U.S. fight for fairness
Seemingly every day, we hear how the U.S./China trade war is hurting the U.S. economy and many of its workers. For years, we’ve heard about China’s unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, technology theft – the list goes on. Why are Canada, Britain and most EU countries just sitting back and watching this fight? The U.S. is not the only country that will benefit, should China succumb and change its policies, so America should not have to go it alone.
If any other country imposed the rules that China does, it would be scoffed at by the rest of the world. China only gets away with it because it promises access to a large market to those that will play by its rules. China is a bully.
The only way to handle this bully is to bully it back, which is exactly what the U.S. is doing. For this to be effective, we must all get behind the U.S. and show we are all tired of being bullied. Canada and the rest of the world need to join America’s fight for fairness.
Dag Enhorning, Toronto
We’re best at …
Re Canada Is The Model Liberal Nation – And Should Embrace It (Opinion, May 18): “Half Canadian” Adam Gopnik claims that Canada “dislikes boasting and boasters even on its own behalf.”
But aren’t we the best at not boasting? Especially compared to the only other country that matters to Canadians: the United States? This is the Achilles heel of our self-effacement: We think of it as a cardinal virtue.
False modesty is “better than no modesty at all” (Jules Renard), but for virtuous Canadians, it is indeed “the ultimate refinement of vanity” (Jean de la Bruyère).
So Mr. Gopnik’s American “half” can go on praising Canada as a “model” nation: We can’t get enough of it. When Barack Obama and Bono told us “the world needs more Canada,” they knew exactly what they were doing.
Yvon Grenier, Antigonish, N.S.