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The flag of the People's Republic of China flies at the Embassy of China in Ottawa, on Nov. 22, 2019.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Horse around

Re “How we got here: China’s unrelenting influence campaign, the Liberals’ mishandling and the questions that remain” (May 22): The Trudeau government’s seeming lack of attention to China’s interference in our elections brings to mind Austrian political economist Joseph Schumpeter’s comment that politicians are like horsemen: so engrossed in trying to stay in the saddle that they can’t plan their rides.

Ben D’Andrea North Vancouver

Emissions of war

Re “Russian TV celebrates as it reports the capture of Bakhmut” (May 23): As a Ukrainian by heritage, my heart aches to see the destruction brought by war.

Photos of torched apartments in Bakhmut make me wonder what will be left. Where does all the blackened concrete, twisted rebar and burned-out furniture go? Has anyone asked how much carbon is released from a single bomb?

I don’t know how our planet can survive this senseless war and climate crime.

Alison Pidskalny Calgary

Material statement

Re “There is no cost-free climate plan” (May 22): Perhaps the most significant statement by the Parliamentary Budget Officer has received the least attention.

Among other things, in analyzing the economic effects of Canada’s net zero efforts, he wrote that “Canada’s own emissions are not large enough to materially impact climate change.” In other words, the entire project would have zero effect on global climate change, but maximum effect on our economy, inflation, energy security and national unity.

What are we doing and why?

Rick Gilborn Calgary

Fire fallout

Re “Alberta had one of the best wildfire programs in the world. Budget cuts have left the province at risk” (Opinion, May 20): Nearly 60 years ago, fires threatened the farming area east of Athabasca, Alta. As a 12-year-old, I joined my father and other townsfolk for a day of firefighting armed only with gunny sacks and pails of water.

From time to time, we saw the peril we faced: clusters of red-hot spruce needles drifting southeastward across the Athabasca River, some of which landed on outbuilding roofs or haystacks in various farmyards. Whacking each nascent fire with a wet gunny sack was effective for a time, but we were disheartened to learn that one farmer went home that night to a house on fire.

In those days, Alberta had a strong network of lookout towers and people to man them. It’s disheartening to learn that successive governments have cut funding for the sake of saving a mere $15-million-plus.

Not only is forest-fire risk here to stay, but it is getting increasingly worse.

David Armstrong Edmonton

Two billion reasons

Re “The Liberals promised two billion trees by 2030. Only 2 per cent have been planted. What’s going wrong – and what needs fixing” (May 19): The two billion trees program is worth saving. It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore an area of forests twice the size of Prince Edward Island, and can play a crucial role in reversing the decline of at-risk species, such as the woodland caribou.

There is potential for this to be the most important ecological restoration project in Canadian history. But to do that, the government would need to refocus priorities. They would need to maximize benefits to biodiversity by planting diverse native species and ensure new forests are permanently protected, since most carbon reductions won’t be seen until after 2050.

This program could be a crown jewel of the Liberal legacy, or it could be one of their greatest blunders. It’s up to them to decide which.

David Wallis Reforestation policy manager, Nature Canada Ottawa

Down the line

Re “Nearly half of new nurses registered in Ontario trained abroad” (May 22): In March, my wife and I returned to Botswana where she grew up, trained and practised as a nurse. While home, she took her 82-year-old mother to the local clinic.

They arrived at 8 a.m. to find they were 119th in queue. Most people were elderly and quietly sat waiting for hours. The doctor was approachable and took time to talk to his elderly clients.

In talking with the doctor, I found out he was one of the few Batswana still practising in the country. Same thing in the clinic itself: a shortage of nurses because so many had been enticed to go overseas.

While politicians in the “developed” world think we are solving our problem, we are causing significant hardship on smaller countries such as Botswana. They train people to support their health system, only to lose them to countries that are much better off.

It is not right.

Spencer Hutchison Quinte West, Ont.

Best bet

Re “CAMH calls for ban on gambling advertising during sports broadcasts” (May 22): Televised sports programs attract many young and vulnerable viewers. Gambling ads “are normalizing sports gambling” and making it look like a sure thing for winning, rather than the more usual outcome: losing.

I find that the proposal, that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario adopt guidelines for gambling ads similar to those for alcohol, is appropriate and admirable. As a retired elementary-school teacher, I believe we need to consider human health above financial gain.

Faye Willis London, Ont.

We should all agree that the only reason for gambling ads is to increase industry profit, either by enticing new people (especially the young) to the “big thrills” and “fun,” or to encourage those already gambling to wager even larger sums of money.

I support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s submission, but I think it doesn’t go far enough. Much like cigarette-smoking and its negative health outcomes, gambling ads should be banned entirely.

Michael Gilman Toronto

This call only takes one tiny step. The facts should take it farther.

I believe gambling adds nothing to the quality of society; it destroys thousands of lives while making those without any conscience richer. Online gambling and gambling apps should be illegal.

Improving the quality of society should be the role of our government, unless those in government have already joined those without any conscience.

William Oldfield Waterloo, Ont.

I propose another option: All advertising of gambling, regardless of medium, should tell the public exactly what percentage of dollars finds its way back into the pockets of punters.

Rational bettors would understand that the more they bet, the more likely their return on “investment” would be similar to the average. In short, they would be losers and, knowing the percentages, more likely to spend their hard-earned dollars more wisely.

Michael Craig Owen Sound, Ont.

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