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Feb. 18: The future of mail delivery, plus other letters to the editor

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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Return to sender

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Former Canada Post president Michael Warren explains why community mailboxes are the only viable alternative for Canada Post to save money, but he didn't seem to factor in the accelerated revenue loss that those mailboxes are likely to engender (Why Community Mailboxes Are The Future For Canada Post, Feb. 16).

The inconvenience of community boxes will only hasten the demise of regular mail. I would continue using letters with reduced home delivery frequency, but with community boxes I would ensure that all my bills were electronic and that my friends and family use online cards for birthdays and holidays.

Mr. Warren seems to be missing the point that, in his search for savings, he is destroying the very reason for the business to exist.

Mike Jensen, Calgary

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Mr. Warren's article on the future of Canada Post is very 20th-century. It compares door-to-door delivery and community mailboxes. The key element that is missing is a 21st-century perspective. It will soon be possible to use a fleet of robots to deliver mail to homes. This will allow door-to-door delivery without the associated expense of mail carrier salaries.

Canada has an excellent technology ecosystem that includes robotics, artificial intelligence, universities and many hardware and software companies that are part of the supply chain for future autonomous vehicles. Together they can develop a robot for mail delivery.

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I propose that Canada Post launch a challenge to develop and demonstrate a prototype of a robot to deliver mail to homes. Each team competing in the challenge would comprise a university and a company. And there would be a prize for the winner – as well as bragging rights.

Barrie Kirk, executive director, Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, Kanata, Ont.

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Give a little more

I agree with Gerald Caplan that our governments only give "paltry amounts of foreign aid" while extracting trillions of dollars from poor countries (The Truth For Trudeau: We've Been Ripping Off Africa For Decades, Feb. 15).

In 1969, Canada committed to increasing foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of our national income in 1969. Yet now we give just 0.28 per cent. Increasing this to 0.34 per cent in 2017 will ensure the most vulnerable people, particularly women and girls, get the needed services to not only survive but thrive.

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Investing in health, education and nutrition will help break the cycle of poverty and empower economic growth in low-income countries. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "Canada is back." Let's get back on track to eradicating global poverty for good and commit to reaching 0.7 per cent to end extreme poverty for everyone by 2030. It's the least we can do to pay back some of what we've taken.

Mary-Sue Atkinson, North Vancouver, B.C.

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Media obligations

Guest columnist Kim Campbell is right to sound the alarm about fake news (How Journalism Will Protect Our Democracy From Fake News, Feb. 15). Solid investigative journalism is as critical to democracy as voting in governments that allow their scientists and academics to disclose their work to their peers and the public at large.

Certainly, all consumers, and particularly children, should be more discerning and media literate. But legitimate media outlets also have a role to play in disputing and disempowering "alternative facts." To maintain their credibility, they need to be ready to invest more in the people who actually create real, fact-based news and in the editors and fact-checkers who work with them. This would go a long way toward demonstrating they are more committed to democracy than to "likes" and "shares."

Martha Lynch, Toronto

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It is naive to expect journalism, as Ms. Campbell argues, to protect democracy from fake news for several reasons.

First, conventional media such as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines cannot fact-check all the myths, errors and lies presented on social media. Second, surely social media themselves should be held responsible for what they publish. They should be required to edit and block obvious lies and libels, just as conventional media are. Finally, democratic governments need to regulate social media and bring them under laws that apply, the same as conventional media. Freedom of speech should not be a licence to allow social media to blatantly lie.

Vincent di Norcia, Barrie, Ont.

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Please stop using the phrases "fake news" and "alternative facts." They are misleading and dangerous. When we allow untruths to put on a cloak of credibility, no matter how thin and threadbare, powerful scoundrels get to do what they want with impunity.

Use "falsehood" for a self-serving statement made without foundation in reality. Use "lie" for a statement that blatantly flies in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Howard Goodman, Toronto

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One final ride

As an octogenarian, about to submit to the requirements for biennial renewal of my driver's licence, I was fascinated by Moses Schuldiner's letter with its plan for a brave new world in which seniors who are no longer able to drive could ride around in autonomous cars (Saviour For Seniors, Feb. 15). These cars could even monitor the drivers' vital signs and "summon emergency aid or drive them to a medical facility" if needed. A simple and obvious extension would be to have the car drive to a funeral home if the driver died.

Ian McCausland, Toronto

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