Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti and President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair look on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks about the Public Order Emergency Commission report on the Liberal government’s use of the Emergencies Act, in Ottawa, on Feb.17.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

No excuses

Re “The eight excuses of Liberal MPs to duck a public inquiry (and none of them are good enough)” (Editorial, March 13): In my dictionary, an inquiry need not be time-consuming, costly, redundant, dislikable, presumptive, dangerous, unintelligible or confidential. It can be as simple as one question.

So let’s have a trusted Canadian ask a senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service professional: Did the top leadership of the government fail to act on information regarding Chinese interference in our elections?

If the answer is yes, then an election is due.

John Budreski Vancouver

The most important questions should not be about what the Prime Minister knew, when he knew it and what he did about it. Reporting has made those answers clear to Canadians and voters can decide, in due course, if they are important.

Rather, the point of a public inquiry should be to establish the extent to which China interferes in our affairs, and what we must do to block such malevolent behaviour from China and, perhaps, other hostile foreign powers.

Ian Thompson Halifax

There has been much discussion around the problem of Chinese interference in Canadian politics. Less discussed is the tension between protecting democracy and national sovereignty.

With what right do citizens in a free society compel other citizens to guard against influences on their beliefs and actions, foreign or otherwise? Is it wrong for a dual citizen, for instance, to promote the values of one country while voting in another?

Some might say that it becomes wrong if the values promoted are undemocratic. But one can express undemocratic values in a liberal society.

Are we concerned about protecting Canadian democracy or Canadian sovereignty? Perhaps we will have to decide.

Morgan Tait Kitchener, Ont.

Budget proposal

Re “Freeland sets March 28 budget date as economists urge finance minister to curb spending” (March 11): Chrystia Freeland plans fiscal restraint so as not to fuel inflation. However, as economist Jim Stanford tweeted, “An economy that was really ‘running hot’ would have much stronger GDP growth, strong growth in leading indicators and rising real incomes. Canada has the opposite on all.”

Supply-side factors such as pandemic-induced work slowdowns and transportation bottlenecks, weather events and the war in Ukraine are driving inflation. Tightening fiscal policy along with sharply hiked rates will likely only hinder recovery efforts.

In contrast, targeted stimulus and a full employment policy would not only increase availability of goods and services, but also likely achieve a reduction in costs related to crime, addictions and family breakdowns.

Fiscal responsibility means policy settings that benefit most Canadians and should not be equated with monetary and fiscal restraint, which favours creditors over debtors, increases unemployment, exacerbates inequality and shifts burdens ever more onto our most vulnerable citizens.

Larry Kazdan Vancouver

Out of balance

Re “As Alberta battles Ottawa in court, the Liberals are right to seek balance between the economy and environment” (Editorial, March 10): From 1983 to 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development travelled the globe and talked to people facing the full range of problems related to our collective disregard for the natural environment that sustains us. It offered a concept – “sustainable development” – to direct a new path.

What became known as the Brundtland Report was principally written by Jim MacNeill, a Canadian and international civil servant. Mr. MacNeill explained with infinite patience that truly sustainable development is not a balancing act between different interests or actions, but a core value that needs to be integrated into our development and consumption practices.

Humanity’s insistence on “balancing” has led us to the very precipice where we now stand. Beyond politics, constitutional squabbles and “efficiency,” the federal Impact Assessment Act should have much greater rigour if it is to help us move away from that precipice.

Hugh Benevides Victoria

Now or later

Re “Ottawa claws back $82.5-million in health transfers for private fees charged to patients” (March 11): This decision shows me how the federal government is out of touch with reality.

A few years ago, I needed knee surgery. The surgeon wanted an MRI. I had a choice: Wait six months or more in pain to get it for free, or pay and have it done the next day. I paid and, as a result, got my knee replacement faster.

Canada’s health care ranks among the worst of member countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Yet all Justin Trudeau does, it seems, is resort to pettiness.

Roger Emsley Delta, B.C.

Digital morals

Re “Digital literacy will be key in a world transformed by AI” (Opinion, March 11): Society’s problems with artificial intelligence seem to go beyond understanding how it works, or doesn’t. AI, like so much of its supporting technology and funding, has no moral compass.

Our educational focus on science, technology, engineering and math has been at the cost of humanities. Millennia of social customs and moral virtues have been subsumed by the worship of Mammon.

In his book Technology Run Amok: Crisis Management in the Digital Age (2018), crisis-management expert Ian Mitroff speaks to the “technological mindset” and its blindness to the bad or unintended consequences of new technology. The elimination of “soft” subjects from contemporary education is a primary cause.

We cannot stop technological advances, but we should instill in our technologists a solid core of values that have nurtured humanity through previous generations.

Len Ashby Toronto

Bill of goods

Re “Meta to end Canadians’ access to news on Facebook and Instagram if Bill C-18 becomes law” (March 11): I do not understand the fuss about Bill C-18.

But I do understand that free services from Google (search, maps, etc.) are an appreciable benefit to me, while offerings from the Ottawa establishment can often be marginal at best. Think the Phoenix payroll system, passport operations, $66-million for McKinsey & Company, etc.

Thus in choosing between the competing narratives of Google and the Ottawa crowd, I have no hesitancy in aligning with the former and not the latter.

Richard Patterson Collingwood, Ont.

Dance off

Re “Ontario bans TikTok on government-issued devices” (March 10): Now that the federal and Ontario governments have banned TikTok on government devices, will the Toronto Maple Leafs erase the sponsored TikTok logo from their helmets?

Andy Thomson Toronto

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