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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the media while attending the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., Sept. 26, 2019.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

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A decent proposal

Re This Is The Federal Election Campaign That Decency Forgot (Oct. 17): Columnist Gary Mason tells us we are now witnessing the most depressing election campaign ever. I do think it’s fair to say that we have seen a hardening of attitudes over the past 20 years or so, and social media has been a major component of that. There is more than enough evidence to suggest that the fewer relevant facts a person has in regard to a given subject, the more fiercely held their opinion on that matter will be.

Niceness has also become a major problem. People seem to have gotten into the habit of telling themselves that because they are nice, their opinions are nice – and beyond contradiction – and any person who disagrees with them is by definition not nice and deserving of abuse – which doesn’t seem very nice.

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That’s a reason to feel depressed, I would say. The current election campaign’s divisiveness is merely symptomatic of a far larger problem.

Steve Soloman Toronto

Nobody’s perfect

Re The Man In The Middle (Oct. 16): For me, the most important point in Adam Radwanski’s consideration of Justin Trudeau is this: “Canada is further along toward addressing everything from inequality to climate change to reconciliation than it was four years ago, but not as far as many might wish.” No, it’s not perfect, but we are moving forward with Mr. Trudeau, which is no small feat in these troubled times.

Susan Neale Victoria

Just a drop

Re Indigenous Issues And The 2019 Election (Editorial, Oct. 16): Incorporating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into the bosom of domestic law will, in my mind, be the slow drip eroding Canadian sovereignty. If you think minority governments are a recipe for legislative logjam, try giving a single group perpetual veto over land and resources development.

Howard Greenfield Montreal


In discussions about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the bone of contention is whether incorporating UNDRIP into Canadian law will give Indigenous peoples the power to veto resource projects. I believe the evidence is clear that such integration would simply formalize the duty to consult with Indigenous peoples.

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The UNDRIP right of free, prior and informed consent requires that Indigenous peoples have access to all relevant information and enough time to make decisions, based on their own forms of decision-making, while free from coercion. The term “veto” is not used. If Indigenous peoples say no to a project, the project’s proponent has the option of seeking a judicial review, as would happen in any other similar situation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls UNDRIP the framework of reconciliation in the country. Those that support the well-being of Indigenous peoples should fully support its legislative implementation.

Chrystal Désilets Indigenous rights program co-ordinator, KAIROS Canada; Ottawa

Writing the rails

Re Come On, Ride The Train: Why Canada Needs A National Rail Strategy (Oct.12) When speaking to high-speed rail being better for our environment than cars and planes, it’s vital to consider the full environmental costs.

Since high-speed rail operates most efficiently using straight rail lines, two processes are essential to its implementation: high levels of land appropriation (and subsequent displacement of people and communities) and a huge amount of construction – raised viaducts or bore tunnels are vital to accommodate the preferred straight rail lines. There is also the massive amounts of raw materials: cement, steel, gravel, stone. That’s all before any additional construction to build or expand stations with links to other transit, including, surely, to airports.

We already have roads, highways and airports, and the environmental costs for repairing this existing infrastructure would be nowhere near that of building a high-speed rail service in Canada

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Esther Shannon Vancouver


I believe many Canadians would like to see regular, lower-speed passenger rail service between many cities countrywide, rather than a high-speed one between our largest metropolises.

Withdrawal of long-distance bus services in the West has left many of us without any options. Re-establishment of regular trains on the southern prairies between Winnipeg and Calgary, or even further west to Kamloops, B.C., would be a good start.

Gary Soucey Medicine Hat, Alta.


Although Canada is the only Group of Seven nation without high-speed rail, we likely lead the world in high-speed rail studies. I’m sure we can look forward to many more before we catch up to the likes of, say, Uzbekistan.

Tim Jeffery Toronto

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What about it?

Re What About Alberta (Oct. 12): I understand that Albertans are frustrated. But I’m still trying to figure out why Albertans now think their economic problems are caused by Eastern Canada. When times were good for so long, was the boom created by Eastern Canada? I don’t think so, because I still have a copy of a book titled Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark by Mary Janigan.

To solve this regionalism, we have to see this East-West confrontation dropped in favour of trying to support each other.

William Baldwin Toronto


A few thoughts on the problems in Alberta.

First, the energy crunch didn’t just happen overnight – why wasn’t Alberta prepared for it? Second, Alberta had a very healthy contingency fund during Peter Lougheed’s premiership – what happened to it? Third, I believe it’s time Albertans started paying provincial sales taxes. And finally, with its vast open spaces, why isn’t Alberta seriously investigating alternative energy sources such as solar and wind?

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Alberta seems to be a significant architect of is own economic malaise. It should stop pointing the finger at everyone else.

Richard Begin Kelowna, B.C.


Albertans seem to have swallowed hook, line and sinker Jason Kenney and Andrew Scheer’s message that Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau are solely responsible for the prolonged delay of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Had their predecessors Jim Prentice and Stephen Harper remained in power, the Federal Court of Appeal likely would have ruled the same way, and TMX would be sitting pretty much where it is now.

George Haeh Lethbridge, Alta.

Backstory

Re Plot Twist: Booker Prize Jury Defies Rules And Splits Award Between Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo (Oct. 15): I sympathize with the Booker Prize judges who ended up crowning Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo as joint winners. In fact, this is not Ms. Atwood’s first experience in sharing a literary prize – an act that she performs with grace.

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In 1977, she shared the limelight when the judges of the Toronto Book Awards were divided on the relative claims of her Lady Oracle and Margaret Gibson Gilboord’s The Butterfly Ward. The judges on that occasion were Jack Granatstein, Beth Appeldoorn, Marian Engel and the undersigned.

John Robert Colombo Toronto


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