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Trainer Karly Estey has her COVID-19 QR code scanned by Jonathan Gagne, manager of Orangetheory Fitness, in Montreal on Sept. 1.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Path to passports

Re ‘A Balancing Act’: Several Provinces Enter Uncharted Legal Territory With Vaccine Passports (Sept. 8): After we have vaccine passports, why don’t we allow restaurants, gyms, etc., to choose? They could be a passport or non-passport facility. Patrons could then choose where they want to go.

Herbert Belman Toronto

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Following the announcement of vaccine passports, the vaccination rate serves as an effective barometer for Ontario’s ethical priorities. The prospect of being denied a beer, movie or plated sushi is far more daunting than risking the health and safety of fellow human beings.

Alberta has addressed vaccine apathy by invoking the time-honoured approach of bribery. Perhaps we could expand on this by offering free televisions to those who refrain from stunt-driving on highways, or Tim Hortons coupons to reward those who look both ways before crossing the street.

The opportunities for behaviour modification are endless in this brave new world.

Mark Hertzberger Stratford, Ont.

Taxing task

Re Liberal Campaign Vow For Bank Tax Tempers Investor Expectations (Sept. 8): As a former member of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, I applauded directives to Canada’s banks to cease buybacks of shares and refrain from raising dividend payments to shareholders. The objective was to increase retained earnings and thus capital, thereby strengthening banks’ abilities to absorb losses from bad loans, including mortgages.

Ratios of capital to risk assets rose to levels in excess of those prescribed by the international Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Canadian banks are among the best positioned in the world to deal with problematic assets.

Now our Prime Minister and Finance Minister seem ready to undo the success of the OSFI initiative with new taxes on banks and other financial institutions, on the grounds that “they have too much capital.”

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They also overlook the fact that millions of Canadians own directly, or indirectly, as members of pension plans, dividend-paying bank shares.

D. M. Macpherson Oakville, Ont.

What of wealth?

Re What Property Taxes Can Tell Us About A Wealth Tax (Sept. 6): The effect of property tax falls only partially on the owners of property and is not directly related to wealth.

Property tax is theoretically a payment for municipal services, the assumption being that services rendered are in proportion to property value. A wealth tax is not directly related to services provided.

Property tax is also a tax on gross asset value: the equity plus debt associated with a property. A wealth tax only taxes equity.

Property tax mainly shifts forward to the consumers of a property’s services. In the case of residential, retail, commercial and industrial properties, tenants pay in the form of rent.

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Finally, property tax falls on an identifiable asset; a wealth tax does not. Property tax, then, tells us nothing about a wealth tax.

Lawrence Smith Professor emeritus of economics, University of Toronto

Contributor Dylan Reid is in favour of taxing unrealized capital gains. Because we already do this via a property tax based on house valuations, we should use the same model for a wealth tax. I think this is a really bad idea.

In both scenarios, one might have substantial assets on paper, but limited cash flow to pay taxes. It would be fairer to use the square footage of a house to allocate the cost of a city’s hard services. Some would go even further and suggest that property tax be replaced by a city income tax.

A wealth tax would also effectively double-tax the income stream that partly created the wealth in the first place. A better approach would be to introduce estate duty, so as to reduce the ability of one generation to pass wealth onto the next. Focus more on taxing the dead rather than the living.

Adam Plackett Toronto

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Going green

Re The Liberal-Conservative Green Gap (Editorial, Sept. 7): Canada’s record for three decades demonstrates that our federal governments have not made targets just by stating them. From Kyoto to Copenhagen, Canada has missed by wide margins.

Erin O’Toole is criticized for sticking with Justin Trudeau’s 30-per-cent Paris target. Yet emissions have risen on Mr. Trudeau’s watch, not declined. For him to now propose reducing them by at least 40 per cent sounds like nonsense.

The Pathways study of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome, informed by a wide range of technological options and the known plans of governments, shows that Canada will hit neither 30 per cent nor 40 per cent. Both leaders would be spitting in the wind.

There seems no point in drawing comparisons until at least one leader establishes plans to deliver results on the ground, with targets that can be measured promptly every year (such as the number of electric vehicles sold).

John Hollins Ottawa

Are we out of the woods yet?

Re Is Fairy Creek The Clayoquot Sound Of The 2020s? (Opinion, Sept. 4): The world is burning up and here on Vancouver Island, climate activists are obsessing over a relatively insignificant valley. Its chief attributes appear to be that it is close to Victoria, hasn’t been logged and has been given a beguiling name. Activists want the timber rights left to them. That’s not going to happen.

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As an alternative, I give the example of West Kootenay’s Darkwoods Conservation Area, a more significant property bought and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

So here’s my suggestion: Negotiate a sale of timber rights from the logging company and bands with territorial claims, then pass the management to a conservancy. I’m confident the B.C. government would not only agree, but help. Judging from election talk, so would any future federal government.

The only losers in this scenario are, as usual, the loggers here who are experiencing the slow death of a foundational industry.

Justus Havelaar Campbell River, B.C.

As I sit comfortably reading The Globe and Mail on my deck, protected from the hot morning sun by beautiful trees, I think back to the time I saw the majesty of British Columbia’s old-growth forests.

I am thankful that I got to experience the mystique of these living, giving giants. I’m also thankful to the brave people who stand up to the economic powers that would kill them for a buck.

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One hundred years from now, when the trees turned into deck boards have rotted, who will care where that wood came from? But 300 years from now, when generations marvel at the unique living excellence that the people of today fought to protect, there will be so many who give thanks for the irreplaceable gift that is the living history of our planet.

Jamie Brougham Ottawa

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