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Toronto mayor-elect Olivia Chow enters City Hall in Toronto, on June 27.Arlyn McAdorey/The Canadian Press

Mayoral powers

Re “Olivia Chow wins Toronto mayoral race, vows to build more affordable city” (June 27): Olivia Chow said reducing Toronto’s $1.4-billion budget shortfall is a high priority. Usually, progressive politicians are good at raising taxes and not so good at cutting spending.

Property tax was also a big issue in Toronto’s mayoral race. In Vancouver, city staff have proposed an average property-tax hike of about 9 per cent for the next five years. Vancouverites should look at their bills and divide the total by about half – that may be the additional amount they pay in five short years.

Torontonians should remember when they get smacked with a Vancouver-style increase: They voted for that.

Dan Petryk Calgary

The number of eligible voters in Toronto is about 1.9 million. Voter turnout was 39 per cent and Olivia Chow won only 37 per cent of those who actually cast ballots, about 270,000.

I congratulate Ms. Chow on her victory, but I don’t agree with her post-election remark that the result represented a “mandate for change.” I don’t believe that 270,000 votes out of a total population of nearly three million Torontonians constitutes anything close to a “mandate.”

I am hopeful she keeps this in mind as she implements her vision for Toronto.

Michael Gilman Toronto

Doug Ford may be unhappy that Olivia Chow is the new mayor of Toronto, but it seems he has only himself to blame.

In 2014, then-premier Kathleen Wynne passed Ontario legislation to allow cities to use a ranked-ballot approach for municipal elections from 2018 on. Toronto chose not to use this approach in 2018, but was close to introducing it for subsequent elections.

However, Mr. Ford revoked this capability for Ontario municipalities in 2020. Given that Ms. Chow got 37 per cent of the vote and former Toronto councillor Ana Bailão was close behind at 32 per cent, it is conceivable that Ms. Bailão could have eventually won under a ranked-ballot system.

The expression “being hoist by your own petard” seems appropriate.

Adam Plackett Toronto

Over time

Re “Opposition MPs united in call for overhaul of access to information system” (June 21): “The current performance of the Access to Information system is not good enough.” This was the first and only useful sentence in the Liberal dissenting opinion to the recent report of the standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.

The government completely ignored the committee’s recommendation of “a process for the automatic release of historical documents that are more than 25 years old.” Our current access system does not recognize that government documents eventually become historical documents.

Britain uses a “30-year rule,” something Canada abandoned with the introduction of the Access to Information Act. The United States uses a mandatory declassification framework that assumes most records can be released after 25 years.

A time-based release process works elsewhere and has worked in Canada. Ignoring this obvious solution suggests no interest in a solution at all.

Timothy Sayle University of Toronto

Robert Bothwell University of Toronto

Norman Hillmer Carleton University, Ottawa

Margaret MacMillan University of Oxford

Slick solution

Re “Canada net zero 2050: A how-to guide” (Editorial, June 23): As a businessman with a strong green bent, I have realized that oil and gas are not the evil they are portrayed as. If everything we make from petrochemicals were made from trees and other natural fibres, there would likely not be any natural ecosystems left.

I believe the real issue is that we willingly accept the lie that we can make disposable products that have short lives and cannot be reused or recycled, and that those who benefit from this fallacy are not responsible for cleaning up their own messes. Think methane-spewing orphan wells and “recycled” plastics shipped to other countries to be burned or dumped in the ocean.

Petrochemicals can and should be part of the solution.

Walter Abicht Kingston

News value

Re “Top Bell Media executive urged CTV to avoid ‘negative spin’ on coverage of parent company” (Report on Business, June 27): Bell Media president Wade Oosterman wants journalists at CTV to be more “balanced,” going on to say that “we actively ignore I would say half of the viewers.” I spent 24 years at CTV News, but it would not take one year for me to know that what he is saying is “more conservative.”

These are shocking statements and a news executive such as Mr. Oosterman should have no business making them. Dating back to the time of Lloyd Robertson and before, CTV News has been as fair-minded a news organization as any I ever saw. Not perfect, but fair. It was not any party’s mouthpiece.

Neither should journalists be told that, where possible, they should put a positive spin on news about Bell. Reputable journalists lay out the facts as honestly and fairly as they can, whether or not that suits meddling executives such as Mr. Oosterman.

Larry Rose Peterborough, Ont.

It’s obvious to me that Bell Media president Wade Oosterman views news divisions as self-serving infotainment profit centres.

What’s disturbing is his heavy-handed interference in the independence of CTV news departments, pushing for more “positive spin” on stories about parent company Bell Canada Enterprises and bemoaning the loss of “eyeballs” because “we don’t force the conflict between two points of view.” Rupert Murdoch couldn’t have put it better.

News divisions should perform a public service. Left to their own devices, the Bell Medias of the world would either drop unprofitable news departments or turn them into purveyors of opinionated infotainment. Does that serve our democracy?

It seems that Mr. Oosterman has made the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s case to say No to Bell Media’s request to drop local news requirements from their licence agreement.

Kevin Bishop Saanich, B.C.

Take and take

Re “The best thing the government could do to save the media is to stop trying to save the media” (June 24): Platforms didn’t just take the content of news organizations: They took the advertising dollars, too.

First Craigslist made newspaper classifieds expensive and irrelevant. Then Google perfected search-based advertising and Facebook used user data to create an ad-targeting social machine.

The other part of the equation is money spent on gathering news. Besides capturing revenue, the smartest thing platforms did, from a business perspective, is spend nothing on journalistic content. That leaves news ventures producing expensive journalism while suffering catastrophic drops in revenue.

I say that’s not a fair distribution.

Bill Doskoch Edmonton

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