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Sept. 6: With activist courts, who needs parliaments? Plus other letters to the editor

Members of the Ceremonial Guard band play as the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday Aug. 21, 2018.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Who needs parliament?

Why bother using my democratic right to elect members of the government and opposition when I can pass on this futile exercise and use activist courts to push my agenda? It appears, based on recent court challenges to our Liberal federal government and now a Conservative provincial government, that this is a more effective avenue (The Trans Mountain Ruling Was A Fiasco; Union Takes Ford’s Sex-Ed Repeal To Court – both Sept. 5).

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All I need to do is wait until they pass legislation I find offensive, self-identify with a collective, then file for a judicial review claiming “our” rights under the Charter have been infringed. Best case, legislation quashed, worst case, deferred indefinitely.

Who needs a parliament when I can directly influence legislation through our courts?

Paul Hookham, Edmonton

Prelates in court

Re The Radical Change Needed For The Catholic Church To Survive (Sept. 4): As have others, Michael Higgins identifies clericalism as the root cause of the current crisis in the Catholic Church.

This is far too general. The problem is episcopal clericalism. A small minority of priests commits sexual abuse, and a small minority of priests becomes bishops. A minority of bishops moves offending priests to another parish when they are found out, instead of removing them from ministry. This is why a small number of priests has been able to do such extensive damage.

The bishops who have thus enabled the abusers need to be turned over to the civil authorities to be dealt with to the full extent of the law. The sight of a few prominent handcuffed prelates in court would be purifying and salutary, but it won’t happen without the Pope’s clear backing. And Francis clearly has no stomach for such a course of action, guided as he is by the principles of discernment and mercy. The time for discernment is over, and mercy without justice is simply acquiescence.

John Sheppard, Toronto

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Despair has a place

Re No Place For Despair On The Climate Front (Sept. 3). Alas, I fear your optimism is mistaken and misleading: The ice caps are melting, so are the glaciers. Humanity’s burning of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution is taking its toll on the climate.

The Personal Carbon Allowance (allotment) System is an idea whose time has come. This is a system wherein the total carbon emission allowance (per country, per province, per municipality) is divided by the number of adults, which then becomes their annual allotment. The lion’s share of the population would use less than their allotment. The rest may have to buy fewer and/or smaller cars, rein in air travel, and otherwise make judicious use of their allowance, which could be tracked with chip cards. Unused personal allocations could be traded on a Personal Carbon Allowance Commodity Exchange, where individuals could buy allotments to run industries, set up businesses, buy investments.

This system would tweak industry in the low-carbon direction. Perhaps to get the ball rolling, the federal government could use the $4.5-billion for a pipeline to kick-start a project to turn Alberta into Canada’s photovoltaic cell-production capital.

Renate Manthei, Hamilton

Pipeline consultations

Re Trudeau Says Ottawa Is Determined To Proceed With The Trans Mountain Expansion (Sept. 5): Politicians seem to think that if only the government had done a better, more meaningful job of consulting First Nations (and the orcas), the pipeline would be going ahead. So – verdict first, consultation later.

The Globe and Mail has editorialized that just because you need to be consulted doesn’t mean you get a veto (Canada’s Real Problem With Pipelines – Aug. 31). Well, it sort of does, doesn’t it? Isn’t a consultation meaningless otherwise?

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Zachary Jacobson, Ottawa

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Entangled with the issues of Indigenous land rights, environmental activism, economic export demands and the role of the courts, is again – at a very deep level – the divide between the perspectives and values of various segments of society.

Should the survival of one group of resident whales just outside Vancouver’s port have a higher priority than the economic well-being of the country? If one lived on the B.C. coast, the answer might be that the economic well-being of the West Coast is, in the long run, far more attached to a pristine coastline and oceans than the short-term flow of a product needed by society at this point in time. Increased tanker traffic puts at risk our whales and our future: That is a perspective held by an increasing number of British Columbians.

The Eastern economic worldview I see in the media, including The Globe and Mail and CBC, is blind to the deep longing that West Coasters have for the survival of their oceans.

I’m not an environmentalist, just a woman with a longer view. Whales have become the symbol of our greatest asset.

Ruth McMonagle, Campbell River, B.C.

Forests on fire

Re B.C. Is Burning. Is Climate Change Really To Blame? (Sept. 1): Fire is a natural part of the forest eco-system, but Margaret Wente has virtually ignored the increased risk of more frequent and devastating fires that can be attributed to climate change: namely, whole forests of standing, dead timber, killed by the mountain pine beetle. Historical fire-suppression policies set the table, and because winters are no longer cold enough, nor do they last long enough to keep the beetles in check, they have made a meal of it. The kindling is there, waiting for a careless match.

Dawn Brockington, Edmonton

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“In B.C., about 40 per cent of the wildfires that have burned in the past decade were caused by humans … In California, it’s as high as 95 per cent. … The causes range from carelessness with campfires and cigarettes, to tire rims scraping on asphalt, to arson.”

Here’s an idea. Perhaps we should recruit Smokey The Bear to remind us that “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” But then again, in 2018, taking personal responsibility for one’s actions is almost a thing of the past. Causing a forest fire because YOU were careless? My, my! It’s much easier to just step aside and, as Margaret Wente says: “We’ll just blame global warming and watch the province burn.”

Kathy Gemin, Guelph, Ont.

Hmm …

Re Aides Sought To Thwart Trump On NAFTA, New Book Reveals (Sept. 5): I must thank Bob Woodward for clarifying how Donald Trump’s mind works. It’s now clear to me how to prevent nuclear war from ever being initiated by the White House. Quite simply, a Secret Service agent has to gain access to the Trump bedroom and switch the sign on the Red Button from “Bomb” to “Obama Hotline.” Problem solved!

Ted Parkinson, Toronto

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