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May 30: Buying a pipeline in the ‘national interest.’ Plus other letters to the editor

A security vessel patrols the fence of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

Jonathan Hayward/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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The national interest

Re Morneau Buys A Pipeline, And Puts Trudeau’s Government On The Line (online, May 29): Campbell Clark writes that buying the Trans Mountain pipeline was a “gutsy” choice.

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It was. And also a necessary choice, made in the best interests of the country as a whole, to get a project that is critical to Canada’s economic welfare on track.

Nation-building has never been for the faint of heart. It’s great to see the national interest take precedence over political self-interest.

Jean Simpson, Vancouver

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The suits in the Alberta oil patch – and by extension many Alberta residents – tout the province as a bastion of free enterprise and the “less government is best” philosophy. Yet now there’s loud and prolonged applause in Alberta for the federal government’s involvement in Kinder Morgan’s pipeline initiative. Oh, my, what irony!

The definition of “corporate welfare” now has a whole new inflection. A decision in the “national interest”? I think not.

Ken Cuthbertson, Kingston

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s announcement is a great deal for Kinder Morgan. It gets out from under the burden of a problematic – potentially unprofitable – pipeline designed to carry unrefined bitumen in an era when the world needs to move away quickly from fossil fuels.

Of all the energy projects the federal government could invest Canadians’ money in, this is the absolute worst. After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support for the Paris climate accord, this is a giant embarrassment, especially when the world needs countries to take a leadership role in promoting energy alternatives.

Time to start a nationwide petition to reverse this disastrous decision.

Gayle Neilson, Gibsons, B.C.

Sounds delightful

Re Why Quebec’s Literary Culture Is So Much Fun (Arts, May 26): I was born, raised in Toronto. Spent 33 years in Montreal over my life, working for CBC Radio and TV in Quebec as a producer, director/writer.

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I am a lifelong reader, mainly fiction, as I find it often explores truth better than other genres.

I do listen to CBC Radio, and I follow Canada Reads. My heart kind of sinks each year when I hear the earnest, valid choices proposed. I dutifully read most of them.

Where has the joy gone in reading? Surely we are to be allowed the rejoicing to be found in very fine writing, clever phrasing, humour, repartee between characters. And surely we are allowed to also enjoy literature.

What Canada Reads proposes is very fine prose. But, oh, golly, we need a little relief from the dire straits of our world from time to time. An escape from grim and purposeful. The news of our times.

So my thanks to Russell Smith for showing us that we do not have to be dour all the time. Combat des Livres sounds delightful – a description we do not use often in today’s world.

I think it is legitimate to lighten our hearts. Surely it is.

Judith Murray, Burlington, Ont.

Curb screen danger

I wonder how many readers are as nervous as I am that In-Car Screens Have Room To Grow (Drive, May 25). Along with news of the proliferation and increasing size of screens that have to be looked at and/or touched for today’s drivers to get around, we’re also told that as long ago as 1990 we were warned that such things “violate the First Commandment of ergonomics – you must take your eyes off the road to make any adjustments.”

The article goes on to ask, “If it’s illegal to drive while holding an iPad because it’s too distracting, how is it safe to use an iPad-sized screen mounted on the dashboard?”

It’s probably too much to hope that politicians will do anything to apply some rationality to this situation, so it’s up to drivers with a brain to keep their eyes on the road … so they can watch out for those who can’t leave their television obsession at home.

Dave Ashby, Toronto

When democracy kicks in

Your editorial, Cleaning Up After The Party (May 28), suggests it’s perhaps time to regulate nomination contests under existing federal and provincial election-oversight bodies.

Political parties are private associations, free to associate under any administrative rules they choose – including the one in major parties that lets the leader veto any nomination result, regardless of how democratic the process was, or appeared to be.

Your editorialists seem to have borrowed municipal government-style problem solving: Create a new problem to bury or blur the existing one.

The real answer lies in restoring community elections to only the resident citizens; remove political affiliation from the ballot, and reform the federal and provincial election acts to remove the political party advantages.

Since only some 5 per cent of us join those private clubs, why do they have a 95-per-cent head start in our so-called democracy?

Gregory Lang, Toronto

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Your editorial has it exactly wrong: It is the attempt to be “more democratic” that has led political parties astray in their nomination processes.

It is the efforts to broaden the base and give everyone a vote that have led to instant members and banana republic shenanigans. A party seeking to win an election should select a candidate who is best able to represent its philosophy and platform, and the party would be advised to maintain tight control over the selection process.

Obviously, there may be disagreement between riding executives and party central about who the nominee should be, but that should be of concern only to the party and its stalwarts, not to the general public.

The general public will have its say when the election takes place. That’s when democracy kicks in.

Peter Conroy, Ottawa

Postindustrial world

Re The Ontario The Politicians Don’t Mention (editorial, May 26): You suggest that a modern economy for the Rust Belt be built on education, health care and technology.

The bulk of funding for education and health care comes from tax dollars, which would be paid by employees in the education and health-care sectors. Welcome to the postindustrial version of the perpetual motion machine.

Michael Fuerth, Windsor, Ont.

Money management

Re Green Leader May Pleads Guilty In Kinder Morgan Protest Case (May 29): Green Party Leader Elizabeth May pays a measly $1,500 fine and garners publicity that would cost tens of thousands if done through a PR firm. Now that is money management.

Is it too late to bring her to Ontario and make her premier?

Wayne Yetman, Toronto

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