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Pipes are seen at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain facility in Edmonton on April 6, 2017.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Oil logic? it’s complicated

Re Alberta Set To Buy Rail Cars To Boost Crude Shipments (Nov. 29): Imagine that I own an apple orchard in a valley far from the apple market. The supply of apples in every valley exceeds demand, such that all apples sell for less, and my apples sell for the least.

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Some of the orchard-owning neighbours in my valley – bigger farmers with titles like CEO – and a Mr. Kenney, a local politician, say cutting back on how many apples are grown in our valley will result in my apples selling for more money. But the mayor, a Ms. Notley, says that to get paid more for local apples, we have to spend more money to send more local apples to the big market where my apples sell for the least.

I am trying to understand how economics works in Alberta. Also, can I still switch to growing marijuana?

Murray Moore, Mississauga

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Alberta’s oil patch is in crisis.

GM is closing its Oshawa plant to focus on electric vehicles.

Could there be a connection?

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Chuck Higgins, Toronto

GM’s ‘why’

Consumer tastes in Canada and the U.S. have shifted to light trucks, small SUVs, and crossovers, however, people still buy large numbers of conventional sedans – just not from General Motors.

Chevrolet sold 212,000 Cruze models in Canada and the U.S. in 2017, Toyota sold 359,000 Corollas, and Honda moved 446,000 Civic models. The Civic was the third best-selling vehicle in Canada, behind only the Dodge Ram and Ford F-Series trucks, while the Cruze was 15th in sales. GM is shutting down the Lordstown, Ohio, plant and discontinuing Cruze production as part of the plan announced Monday.

Perhaps more importantly, GM sold 1.2 million Chinese-built Buicks in China in 2017 but only some 238,000 domestically built Buicks in the U.S. and Canada. It could be argued that the company’s future might lie somewhere other than within the borders of North America. GM had to be bailed out for a reason in 2009, and it wasn’t because it was doing a great job managing the business of designing and building category-leading cars that consumers wanted. It appears that some of its problems have yet to be fully resolved.

Closing these plants is probably a sound business decision, albeit delivered behind a smokescreen of “future shift” hyperbole.

Colin Wright, Richmond Hill, Ont.

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The shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles and the related costs of restructuring have been understood for some time. The big question is what automotive plant in Ontario will be next to downsize or close. At least GM has one true electric car in production, the Bolt, unfortunately not made in Ontario, and it also had the sense to kill its hybrid, the Volt.

However, head west across the GTA and you get to Ford in Oakville, which has expressed urgency to shift to electric, but at the moment has only a low-volume, short-range compliance car (a version of the Focus) for sale in the EV segment. North, you have Honda in Alliston, farther west, Toyota in Cambridge and Woodstock. None of these plants is producing anything fully electric, so are they all on a path to obsolescence?

If Ontario really is “Open for business,” let’s hope the new government encourages electric vehicle production, and the related battery manufacturing in Ontario. If Tesla can be successful manufacturing in a high cost region such as California, in a former GM plant, we should be able to establish something here.

Kevin Martyn, Aurora, Ont.

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GM had to sacrifice a Canadian plant to justify killing a few in the States. I sure wish I were a billionaire, I’d buy that Oshawa plant, with its flexible line to produce cars and trucks, and its well-trained work force, available and eager to work. Elon Musk, are you listening? How valuable such an asset could be to a manufacturer of hybrid and electric cars.

It would place Oshawa (and Canada) at the forefront of the inevitable great move from manufacturing polluters to manufacturing the next phase in green transportation.

Claudette Claereboudt, Regina

Governments, gambling

Re Grewal Told Party Official He Had More Than $1-Million In Debt (Nov. 29): As an MP, Raj Grewal asked (perhaps self-serving) questions at finance committee about our government’s tracking, through the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, any transactions exceeding $10,000 at casinos.

It is heartening that he avoided other self-serving questions, such as why governments in Canada condone, and even own and operate, casinos that enable Canadians (such as himself) to rack up debts exceeding a million dollars?

In his absence, is there another courageous MP who will ask that question?

Eric Pelletier, Toronto

Follow the money

Re B.C. To Probe Stay Of Money-Laundering Case (Nov. 29): Following on the heels of The Globe and Mail’s investigation into money laundering in British Columbia, and retired RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German’s examination of the same issue, the federal government must act quickly and forcefully to ensure public confidence in Canada’s criminal justice system.

What is needed is a full-blown judicial inquiry, with a mandate to examine not only the specific details of this case, but also to examine the need for a new and adequately resourced federal agency for addressing organized crime.

Another internal review by the RCMP will not do. The federal government has ignored the growing threat from organized crime for too long.

Scott Burbidge, Port Williams, N.S.

Perfection: a mug’s game

Moment in Time (Nov. 29, 1818) noted the birth of George Brown and underlined his significant and positive contributions to Canadian history.

It did not remark upon his anti-Catholicism, a sentiment which extended to French Canadians. On his way home from the Quebec Conference (1864) which finalized the Confederation deal, he wrote to his wife: “Is it not wonderful? French Canadianism entirely extinguished!”

Should his name be erased from the college which bears his name?

Should your newspaper cease to honour the founder of what became The Globe and Mail?

Or should we realize that seeking perfection from the past and its players is a mug’s game?

Stephen Kenny, professor emeritus (history), University of Regina

Hmm …

Re Stocks Jump As Fed Signals Softer Stance On Rates (Nov. 29): Donald Trump says he trusts his gut more than Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

Could the President be suffering from irritable Powell syndrome?

Paul Park, Ottawa

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