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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks as newly named Liberal cabinet ministers look on following the swearing-in of the new cabinet at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Climate talk

Re Trudeau, His Cabinet And Climate Change (Editorial, Nov. 19): The most recent election gave us a chance to fight climate change. Now, whatever we think of Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet, it’s imperative to up our game.

Foreign competition, real or feared, is a drag on every country’s national will to do what is required. The app for that may be a common, global carbon price – not a far-fetched idea. According to the World Bank Carbon Pricing Dashboard, there are currently 57 carbon pricing initiatives implemented or scheduled around the world, covering about 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, less than 5 per cent are currently priced at a level consistent with achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Prices are kept down by the fear of competitors free-riding.

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The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, partly consisting of 34 national and subnational governments including Canada, has agreed to work together toward "the long-term objective of a carbon price applied throughout the global economy.” But in the long term, we may be dead. Let’s have immediate Canadian leadership in international forums not just for accelerated use, but accelerated convergence on a high common carbon price. The poorer countries will only agree when capital aid is a sine qua non. Let it be.

John Stephenson Toronto

It’s disappointing to see the claim that, on a per capita basis, Canada “is one of the planet’s largest emitters.” To relate a country’s percentage of total world population to its responsibility for a percentage of the world’s greenhouse gases makes no sense to me. There is no such thing as a per capita GHG allowance. Nor does GHG stay within a producing country’s boundaries, but, as many only now realize, GHG readily moves across international borders.

These relevant figures are too seldom seen paired: a country’s share of the world’s GHG emissions and percentage of the world’s land mass. Canada’s share of GHG emissions is about 1.6 per cent. Couple that with a 6.1-per-cent share of land and, by those measures, we rank among the 10 least-polluting industrialized countries.

Ron Johnson Victoria

China and the law

Re China Rebukes Hong Kong Court For Overturning Face-mask Ban (Nov. 20): I was a law professor at the University of Hong Kong in the 1990s, as well as a former judge, and thus a not-disinterested observer of the current crisis. I applaud foreign correspondent Nathan Vanderklippe’s coverage which quotes, among other experts, three of my former colleagues, one of whom is one of the protest leaders.

It should also be noted that, in the normal course, the final determination of the validity of the law at issue would be in the hands of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, established at the time of the handover in 1997. This court comprises numerous distinguished Hong Kong jurists, as well as a panel of non-permanent former senior judges from Commonwealth jurisdictions, including Canada’s Beverley McLachlin. This latter feature of the court – the inclusion of foreign judges – was viewed as a further safeguard of judicial independence.

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In my opinion, any interference by China in the workings of this court will signal the beginning of the end of the rule of law in Hong Kong.

J. David Murphy Barrie, Ont.

China and technology

Re Huawei Is The First National Security Test For The New Minority Government (Nov. 20): I don’t understand why the issue of Huawei and 5G networks seems so difficult.

If we’d ticked the No box back when the United States and Australia did, it would be water long under the bridge by now. Instead, we now risk further escalation of tensions if we don’t play along and, if approved, there may also be “rigorous and continuing testing.” For how long? At what cost?

First, I don’t buy the woe-is-us cost scare by the telecoms that charge us some of the highest rates in the world, particularly if it is spread over several years. Second, what is stopping us from manufacturing this equipment in North America? And last, you should not allow a communist country to build your communication network – period, exclamation mark, full stop.

Art Dewan Kentville, N.S.

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Vaping rules? Part 2

Re Ontario Considers Ban On Vaping Flavours, But Worries About Impact On Adult Users (Nov. 19): Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says “many adults who are using vaping as a smoking-cessation tool like flavours, so this is something we are still studying,” referring to a possible ban on flavoured e-cigarettes. As a health-care professional who has helped countless patients reach their smoking-cessation goals without ever mentioning e-cigarettes or vaping, I was absolutely shocked to read this.

There are a number of options that have been studied extensively for their safety and efficacy, such as nicotine gum, inhalers and patches. There are also prescription medications such as Zyban and Champix. As well in Ontario, there are support programs such as Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients, and another where smokers who want to quit can be coached one-on-one by their pharmacist.

I fail to see the need to further study vaping’s role in smoking cessation when we already have so many safe and effective methods. It’s been said over and over again that e-cigarette companies’ methods of advertising are reminiscent of Big Tobacco’s aggressive marketing decades ago. Have we really come this far, after decades of research, only to be stuck in the same place?

Zenah Surani Pharmacist, The Glebe Apothecary; Ottawa

Re The Dual Challenge Of Vaping (Nov. 19): André Picard’s column seems to continue much of the old line: Smoking is so harmful that vaping has to be better. Is it? How many long-time adult smokers have actually quit thanks to taking up vaping? Is there any evidence yet?

Public Health England estimates that vaping is 95 per cent safer than cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes have fewer toxins than regular cigarettes, but do they result in fewer deaths? There simply has not been time for long-term studies. We do not know if those who vape will be better off than if they smoked cigarettes, the same or worse off.

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For years, the cigarette industry fought regulations on their products, denying harm. If they are serious about helping smokers quit, they should support the restriction of vaping sales so that only long-time unsuccessful quitters can obtain e-cigarettes, with a prescription from their doctor.

Lynn McDonald Former MP, author of the Non-smokers’ Health Act (1988); Toronto

Some time ago, the anti-smoking lobby discouraged smoking by placing horrific pictures on cigarette packages, to some effect. With teenage vaping, perhaps we should try to replace fear with vanity.

I imagine a billboard, on one side of which is a picture of a handsome 18-year-old vaping. Next to that would be a picture of an 18-month-old baby sucking on a comforter. The caption would read: “Different ages, same need.”

Dave Ashby Toronto


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