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Re The Federal Campaign Shapes Up To Be A Culture War (Sept. 11): There actually is one dominant issue for this election, and it doesn’t care about culture, values and who thinks like you. It’s the climate crisis, and it should be the most important issue for Canada, the world and all living creatures.
We need leaders who are putting the climate crisis at the top of their agendas – each and every day. We need leaders who can make the tough decisions on climate policies – not the popular decisions. We need leaders who are looking to the future – not to the next election.
We need these leaders now.
Leanne Crosby Markham, Ont.
Anyone running for federal public office should be ready to answer two key questions facing everyone on the planet: How are we going to manage the effects of climate change? And what is the jobs plan for the inevitable economic impact of robotics and artificial intelligence?
Both issues are not theoretical problems, but clear and present dangers. Wasting time on a “culture war” is to gamble with our collective future.
Paul Benedetti Hamilton
It’s getting hot in here
Re Let’s Tone Down The Climate Rhetoric (Sept. 11): It’s no wonder that some of us are getting a little hot under the collar. After all, the climate crisis threatens nothing less than our survival.
You can see how quickly a species’ numbers can plummet. This year, a little more than 600,000 sockeye salmon returned to the Fraser River in British Columbia this year; the forecast from Fisheries and Oceans Canada was nearly 4.8 million.
Our forests are also being decimated: An average of 2.5 million hectares are burned every year in Canada. In B.C., pine beetles, which thrive in warmer conditions, have spread over 18 million hectares and, as of 2012, killed roughly half of the province’s merchantable pines.
We are also seeing an economic disaster unfold for many companies and communities. Even more important, we should remember that human beings are not immune to the same biological forces as fish and trees. Thousands of people are unaccounted for in the Bahamas, in the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s destruction.
I know we are Canadians, famous for our restraint. But surely a raised voice – a shout – is not an unreasonable response when your house is on fire.
Claudia Cornwall North Vancouver
By any other name
Re Ottawa Blocks RCMP On SNC Inquiry (Sept. 11): SNC-Lavalin inquiry? Hardly. The government is stymieing an investigation into possible obstruction of justice in how it handled the prosecution of the company. So do call it what it should be: the Trudeau inquiry.
Louis Desjardins Belleville, Ont.
Cleanup in Manitoba
Re Pallister’s Tories Win Reduced Majority In Manitoba (Sept. 11): That the Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Party campaigns in Manitoba were both marked by “a barrage of mudslinging” seems a false equivalence. PC attacks on NDP Leader Wab Kinew as an “angry, Indigenous man,” as one expert put it, are noted alongside NDP criticism of provincial health care. Racially tinged personal attacks are not equivalent to disagreements about health-care management.
In Ontario, as in Manitoba (and Donald Trump’s United States and Boris Johnson’s Britain), we are witnessing a resurgent right-wing populism that places partisanship above dialogue, hatred above understanding and the pursuit of power above truth. This asymmetrical polarization of the public discourse threatens to become a fundamental threat to our collective history, shared institutions and social norms.
It’s a disturbing process that begs to be called out and named.
Marit Stiles NDP MPP for Davenport; Toronto
Give them liberty?
Re Libertarian Student Group Seeks To Shake Up Legal Culture (Sept. 10): As an American who has lived in Canada for 45 years, I have frequently cautioned friends and family that, despite the similarity in fast-food shops, malls and professional sports teams, the cultures of the two countries are quite different. The most explicit example is the phrasing that underlies each legal system: The individual-minded “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of the United States, compared to Canada’s communal “peace, order and good government.”
That a group of law students in Canada is advocating for more “liberty-oriented legal arguments” in the courts implies a push for the individual’s interests over the community’s – in effect, an attack on Canadian values. In the U.S., it does not seem happenstance that the level of gun violence is staggering, nor that access to safe abortions is drying up, nor that medical assistance in dying is still unavailable in most states.
It behooves Canadian law faculties and societies, as well as individual citizens, to be vigilant of this attempt to shift the underlying values of a legal system that have contributed to this country’s distinctly different identity.
Jack Lee Toronto
Despite what they say about judges too often “being guided by their own political preferences,” libertarians seem to actually want more judicial activism under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not less of it.
That’s evident in the persistent call for courts to strike down legislation forbidding, among other things, private health clinics and reasonable limits on speech. Then they criticize these same courts when judges refuse to be activist and choose to uphold such laws.
Professor Joel Bakan Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
To DB, or not DB
Re The DB Pension-plan Business Model Has Failed – And We’re All Paying A Price (Report on Business, Sept. 11): Contributor Brent Simmons worries over the financially difficult times in which defined-benefit pension plans find themselves. I am sufficiently long in the tooth to recall a time when many DB plans found themselves in surplus. But many of these surpluses were then withdrawn by corporate owners – Conrad Black and Dominion Stores, in 1985, comes to mind.
The implicit recommendation is that DB plans be wound up, presumably replaced by defined-contribution plans which transfer risk from owners to participants. I would suggest that the problem actually lies with the corporate owners of pension funds, many of whom have made insufficient contributions, opportunistic withdrawals and poor management decisions over the decades.
Ian Guthrie Ottawa
Let the games begin
Please accept the following wishes for a good campaign and election from an interested American neighbour:
May the process not be subject to hacking and interference from hostile foreign interests. Or even friendly ones.
May no one throw about charges of everything being hopelessly crooked. Or rigged.
May Canadians be happy they don’t have to deal with the difficulties an electoral college or gerrymandered districts can pose.
May the leader debates deliver more useful information than soundbite drama or allegedly shocking video.
May the results be something people can live with in some measure of acceptance, without feeling the need to incite division.
And maybe, just maybe, may Canadians enjoy at least some of the campaign.
Mary Stanik St. Paul, Minn.
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