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Mona Fortier poses with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette after being sworn-in as Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance during the presentation of Trudeau's new cabinet, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Nov. 20, 2019.

BLAIR GABLE/X02562

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Live long and prosper?

Re Trudeau Turns The Elusive Middle Class Into An Unnecessary Ministry (Nov. 27): New Minister of Middle Class Prosperity Mona Fortier goes straight to the hockey analogy to define the middle class. How Canadian. And then Finance Minister Bill Morneau estimates the middle class is somewhere between $45,000 and $140,000 in annual income. That is some range.

Someone like Mr. Morneau should try to raise two children, have them play hockey and afford food on a monthly take-home of about $2,700 a month. And consider that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is now roughly $2,200 a month. So much for that extra hockey stick – or a bedroom for the children.

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Ms. Fortier should take note of a recent survey from Manulife that found 40 per cent of Canadians believe they will never be out of debt in their lifetime. How is that for a statement on the confidence of Canadians in their present and future prosperity?

Stewart Ellis Toronto


I am irritated by the Trudeau government’s creation of a Minister of Middle Class Prosperity. People in the middle class – and who cares how this amorphous term is defined? – are considerably more affluent and able to pay for the basic pleasures of life, than people who live in poverty.

Limited progress has been made to reduce poverty. According to Citizens for Public Justice, 5.8 million people in Canada still lived in poverty in 2018. If our government wanted to show a heart for the country’s most disadvantaged citizens, it would institute a ministry of poverty eradication and get on with this most important job.

Michael Craig Owen Sound, Ont.


The middle class is certainly not hurting by any measure, nor is the upper class. All things considered, a ministry of the poor makes a lot more sense than one for the middle class. But, oh yes – they don’t have any impact on votes, do they?

William Maes Bedford, N.S.

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Trade-in value

Re Canada Should More Than Quadruple Carbon Tax To Meet 2030 Targets, Report From Ecofiscal Commission Says (Nov. 27): A severe carbon tax, equal to about 40 cents a litre of gas and refunded through tax rebates, would only lead to significant carbon reductions if Canadians are prepared to trade their trucks and SUVs for buses, bicycles and electric vehicles.

Since almost 70 per cent of new vehicle sales are such gas guzzlers, it appears we are not ready for this sacrifice.

Jonathan Bamberger Toronto

Beyond drugs

Re More Teens Using Over-the-counter Drugs To Overdose, Data Show (Nov. 25): Limiting public access to acetaminophen as a means to reduce teen overdoses seems to me just a panacea. Teens will find another drug.

I suggest the most important question that should be asked is: Why are teens trying to take their lives? This would require investigation into the root causes of their despair and the lack of care for them.

Diane Weber Bederman Caledon, Ont.

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Top tier

Re Health-care Deliberations (Letters, Nov. 26): A letter-writer comments that "only individuals who have freedom to access private clinics are the affluent in our society.” I do not believe this to be a truism when reviewing the health-care systems in almost all of Europe.

All in all, these countries do indeed provide good care for their citizens, yet all offer state-run systems together with private medical and surgical facilities. These countries don’t have two-tiered systems of health care, but rather various tiers offering quality services as needs arise.

A. Geoffrey Dawrant MD, Edmonton

Driver’s test

Re Bad Drivers, Good Ideas (Letters, Nov. 25): If drivers can’t answer this question, perhaps they shouldn’t drive.

Imagine cruising down a residential street at the posted 40-kilometres-an-hour limit, when a child on a tricycle pops out from between parked cars. All a person can do is slam on the brakes and hope, and the car stops one centimetre from the trike. The question: If the driver had been going 60 km/h, how fast would the car be travelling when hitting the child?

As a matter of Newtonian physics, the driver would still be exceeding the speed limit when running over that toddler. But if that answer wasn’t obvious, please take the bus or call a taxi.

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G. M. Norris Toronto

Union environment

Re Tilray Union Vote Seen As Tipping Point For Cannabis Industry (Report on Business, Nov. 23): Human-resources consultant Alison McMahon says that unionization in the cannabis industry “has significant costs and challenges associated with it,” and that unions “would be the last thing [cannabis companies] need.” But at the same time, two Tilray employees describe a “a high-pressure working environment with extremely low job security.” Poor management and oppressive working conditions are among the main reasons why workers decide to unionize.

Rather than blaming unions for creating potentially significant costs and challenges, these employers should be looking at their own workplace practices. If unions are indeed the last thing the cannabis industry needs, then the industry should not have workplace conditions that make workers want to unionize.

Fiona McQuarrie Professor, school of business, University of the Fraser Valley; Abbotsford, B.C.

Epilogue

Re RBC Taylor Prize Helped Change Perception Of Literary Non-fiction In Canada (Nov. 25): The soon-to-end Taylor Prize exposed me to Canadian people and issues in a way that was much deeper than the news we read each day. Each book recognized by the prize was a life lesson – in humanity, love, courage and the diversity of our country.

The Taylor Prize was a trailblazer. It changed lives, offered opportunities to writers and told us stories we would have never known without it.

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Susan Wortzman Toronto

Party of one

Re Older Women Don’t Want To Live With Their Boyfriends (Nov. 26): I get it. My mother Majorie Pepper was seventysomething when my father died. She was highly regarded for her design aesthetic and great personal style. So much so that some of Canada’s top interior designers called her their friend and frequently “borrowed” her decorating ideas, including Budd Sugarman, the unofficial mayor of Yorkville in Toronto.

Several eligible bachelors pursued marriage with her. As her son, I wondered why this lively widow preferred to live alone. And her reply: What would I do with their furniture?

Anthony Pepper Toronto


As a woman of a certain age, I was widowed at 54. Since then, I’ve enjoyed male company and, at the same time, valued my own space by living alone. I enjoy the best of both worlds!

Esther Schrieder Toronto

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