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Jim Balsillie warns that provisions tucked into the Trans-Pacific Partnership could cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars.J.P. Moczulski/The Canadian Press

IP and TPP

Jim Balsillie's condemnation of the intellectual property chapter in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (Balsillie Fears TPP Will Cost Canada Billions – Nov. 9, online) should open a few eyes.

Constitutional lawyers should also be engaged in the proposal to commit Canada, in perpetuity, to a treaty limiting national sovereignty. I wonder what happened to the principle that no parliament can tie the hands of a subsequent parliament? Dr. Nicholas Tracy, Fredericton

Need more data?

Ben Bernanke, former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, says he won't second-guess Janet Yellen in her expected interest rate hike (Bernanke Warns Of Outside Threats – Nov. 9). He then does precisely and explicitly that, saying of the recent U.S. strength: "We'll need more data."

Since the former chairman is undoubtedly aware that this would normally be inappropriate, he must be genuinely fearful of a rate hike for weaker players, notably two members of the once-glamorous BRICS, Brazil and China. Nick Kelly, Nanaimo, B.C.

'Free' trade

Mark Milke makes the sterile neo-conservative argument against government investment in businesses such as Bombardier (It's Not An Investment; It's Corporate Welfare – Nov. 4). What he overlooks is the relationship between military expenditures and private (corporate) investment.

The last time I looked, the U.S. military was still largely funded by taxpayers. Washington's military expenditure (2014) was $577-billion (U.S.). China's (2015) was $145-billion. Presumably, this all entails a mighty investment in corporate or state enterprise of one kind or another.

So-called "free" trade cannot work when the biggest powers are also the biggest subsidizers. Countries with relatively modest amount of military expenditure on a population basis (such as Canada) need to make direct investment in crucial industries. The challenge is how it's managed and how taxpayers' interests are protected. Peter Saunders, Toronto

Bad to worse

It's bad enough that the national house-price-to-income ratio (HPI) is 5.4. It's nightmarish that the HPI is a whopping 11.2 in Vancouver and 8.2 in Toronto. But these out-of-reach costs bite some more than others, as always (A House For Three Times Your Income? Think Again – Nov. 6). It's been reported that in Vancouver's wealthy Shaughnessy Heights neighbourhood, the HPI is 3.9, and in Toronto's wealthy Bridle Path neighbourhood, it's just 2.4.

Renters, whose shelter payments don't build any equity, have it even worse. A TD Economics report shows that rents, like house prices, are growing faster than incomes.

In addition, Statistics Canada's 2013 National Household Survey revealed that renters were more than twice as likely as home-owners to shell out more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter.

Does this look like Canada? Raj Singh, Ottawa

A laudable case

Glen Hodgson makes a laudable case for bringing fiscal policy out of the closet, where it has languished since the stimulus measures of 2008-2009 (How Fiscal Policy Can Be Applied To Stimulate Canada's Economy – Nov. 4).

Mr. Hodgson is right in arguing that countercyclical fiscal policy is the only responsible fiscal policy for governments. In contrast, a balanced budget policy, as advocated by both the New Democrats and the Conservatives during the election campaign, is irresponsible – too restrictive during downturns, too expansive during upturns.

Missing is the need to curtail tax evasion by corporations and wealthy individuals. Tax evasion by global corporations alone is estimated conservatively by the OECD at between $100-billion and $240-billion (U.S.) – 4 per cent to 10 per cent of corporate income tax. Perhaps the new Liberal government will put this item on the agenda for a more progressive tax policy. Roy Culpeper, Ottawa

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