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Green Party Leader Elizabeth May responds to a question as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh look on during the federal leaders' debate in Gatineau, Que., on Oct. 7, 2019.


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How to fix election season

Re A Debate That Was Twitter Come To Life (Oct. 9): According to Elections Canada, the Bloc Québécois received 821,144 votes in the 2015 election, translating to 10 seats in the House of Commons. Despite these results, columnist Gary Mason argues that the BQ should not have been invited to the leaders’ debate and seats should not be used as a standard for inclusion. So what should that standard be?

It seems to me that the BQ’s presence symbolized hard truths, which many English Canadians do not like to be reminded about, including the nature of Canada and Quebec’s place in it. By the logic of exclusion, why not suggest barring BQ MPs from Parliament? Would it be democratic to silence the will of 821,144 voters?

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Yvan Giroux Gatineau, Que.

Columnist Gary Mason makes a convincing case for altering the standards of eligibility for our election debates. I agree with his objections to the Bloc Québécois and People’s Party of Canada. But he goes on to say that the Green Party would have to be excluded for consistency’s sake. I have to take exception with that.

If Justin Trudeau had kept his promise to replace the first-past-the-post system before this election, the Green Party – polling at 10-per-cent support in The Globe and Mail’s Nanos survey – could potentially have at least 33 seats in Parliament. Blocking this party at debates should not be an option.

Cherie Hill Mississauga

What if the call for an election was treated like a request for proposals?

A party’s platform would be its proposal, in the hopes of winning the contract to run the country. In order to be fair to all bidders and the adjudicating Canadian public, complete proposals would be submitted by a set date, reviewed, then presented simultaneously.

Campaigning could be focused on elaboration of proposals and explicitly forbid any attacks on other bidding parties. This format would put the governing of Canada on a similar level as any other complex project. A circus might provide a welcomed distraction, but may not be the best model for running the business of a country.

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Ron Robinson Nelson, B.C.

In the Canadian Student Debating Federation, teams are allowed time-limited opportunities to present their position and rebut their opponent. When I first read about the role of the Leaders’ Debates Commission, I was expecting we would be treated to a productive live debate. However, the reality-television format we ended up with seems vastly inferior to that which Canadian high-school students follow.

Leslie Lavers Lethbridge, Alta.

Perhaps the leaders’ debate could have used a talking stick, passed around from speaker to speaker. It worked really well with my elementary-school students.

Ulla Stenman Toronto

Around the world

Re Foreign Affairs Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought (Oct. 7): Roland Paris calls for a review of Canadian foreign policy in light of “tectonic shifts in international affairs.” He is right about the magnitude of these shifts, but doesn’t mention the greatest: the advent of nuclear weapons. It is because of nuclear weapons that the failure of international institutions to support the rule of law poses dangers of catastrophe.

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We need to ponder the fact that one year ago, North Korea showed that it, the poorest of states, could face down the United States, the richest. There could be no clearer evidence of the shifts in power structures. It will require all the diplomatic skills of the middle powers, of which Canada is one, to block the path to such nuclear sabre-rattling and its dangerous sequels.

Canada should be heard arguing, for example, for an extension of the New START agreement, otherwise the only remaining limit on nuclear weapons will lapse in 2021. The threat of nuclear war is global and consequently everyone’s business.

John Polanyi Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1986), Toronto

Re The Shredding Of American Diplomacy (Oct. 9): In June, Donald Trump said he called off an attack on Iran because he had been told that at least 150 people would be killed, and he "didn’t think it was proportionate.” Now, he has withdrawn U.S. troops from Syria, making it highly likely that many thousands of Kurdish fighters could be killed by Turkish action. Is this “proportionate”? Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw should be stopped immediately.

Geoff P. Williams Victoria

The housing crisis

Re No One’s Home (Opinion, Oct. 5): In highlighting the mobilizing efforts of Canadian war veterans in expanding the National Housing Act in the 1940s, I believe contributor Cathy Crowe’s call for a new national housing strategy overlooks how little power is held by those most affected by the lack of one: Canada’s homeless. Our veterans were respected and consequently heard. How often do we afford the same respect to a person living on the street?

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Tej Grewal Burnaby, B.C.

Lucky me, I have a home. But almost all the young people I encounter are struggling with housing: They’re sharing it; they’re paying too much for it; when they lose it, they despair of finding another place.

Part of the fuel for the Hong Kong protest movement has been the lack of affordable housing for young workers. Cities all over the world are dealing with similar problems. The bandage solutions that our federal and provincial governments have come up with seem laughable. A meaningful national housing strategy should be one of Canada’s highest priorities.

Tom Ferris Victoria

Open to open banking

Re Canada Needs To Prepare For Open Banking Or Risk Being Left Behind (Sept. 30): Several Canadian financial firms and U.S. firms with large Canadian footprints are already making significant progress toward secure open banking.

In fact, Toronto-Dominion Bank, which has a large U.S. retail presence, is a founding member of the Financial Data Exchange, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, composed of fintechs, financial institutions and other financial-services companies, that aims to unify the industry around a free, proprietary standard for sharing financial data that puts consumers first. We also believe an industry-led approach offers the shortest critical path to open banking.

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Open banking, first and foremost, must protect consumers’ data security and privacy. But open banking is also about allowing individuals to simply approve, modify or revoke data access for third-party service providers, as well as the ability to trace their data’s final destination and intended use.

The FDX is beginning to see early adoption: By early 2020, the organization expects more than six million U.S. users on its FDX API.

If simplicity and consensus-driven standards rule the day – not multiple cookie-cutter approaches dictated by a single industry or government authority – everybody should win.

Don Cardinal Managing director, Financial Data Exchange; Reston, Va.

You don’t say

So “universal child care is key to seeing more women in executive roles?” (Report on Business, Oct. 7) Who knew? Women have been shouting this self-evident truth for years.

Lise Hendlisz Toronto

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