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Oct. 17: Steeltown’s rep – letters to the ROB editor

The Forge is a software incubator/free working space. It’s allied with McMaster University and Innovation Factory.

Steeltown's rep

Re Tech firms aim to reverse Hamilton's brain drain (Oct. 13): As co-chair of the parliamentary steel caucus, I addressed the North American Steel Trade Counsel and in my remarks referenced this article, stating that Hamilton had trouble recruiting software engineers in part because of "the city's industrial reputation for steel mills."

Modern steel-making is at the highest level of advanced manufacturing processes. More steel is recycled each year in North America than paper, plastic, aluminum and glass combined.

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It's also a $14-billion industry in Canada, with more than 20,000 workers in direct employment and average wages of $75,000. While I was mayor of Hamilton, employment in steel-related industries increased by about 2,000. Our manufacturing sector is running out of land to supply the dozens of requests by companies wanting to locate here.

We do have a growing tech sector, but manufacturing is still the largest individual component of our local economy, and we constantly rate well below provincial and national unemployment numbers. Hopefully we can avoid perpetuating common misunderstandings about modern steel-making. – Bob Bratina, MP, Hamilton East Stoney Creek

There and here

Re Women in the work force, then and now (graphic, Oct. 1): It should be no surprise more women in Nordic countries participate in the work force. These countries have superior parental leave benefits, including paid leaves for new fathers that aren't transferable to mothers.

When men take paternity leave, they learn how to be co-parents rather than secondary helpers, and they take responsibility for household duties. This equality of responsibility allows women to be more engaged in the workforce. Simply put, they don't burn out from shouldering more of the parenting and domestic responsibilities while also working.

Canada should adopt similar parental leave policies to help transform our culture from one in which men are still the primary breadwinners and women the primary caregivers to one where there is equality at home and in the work force. – Sheila Judd, Toronto

Prestigious, but …

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Re Committing to Canadian aerospace can foster innovation and prosperity (Oct. 13): Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare paints a rosy picture of his company's contribution to Canada, but omits his company's very existence is almost certainly due to the billions in taxpayer subsidies it has received over the past half-century.

Canadians would be right to ask whether it's been worth it. Building airplanes may be a very prestigious field, but it is not obvious that Canadians are better off by "paying to play" in an industry where giants such as Boeing are backed by governments with deeper pockets.

All Canadians wish Bombardier the best of luck in selling their planes. But if they can't turn a profit, it should not be up to taxpayers to rescue them. – Aaron Wudrick, federal director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Ottawa

Expert opinion

Re The cost of green (ROB letters, Sept. 29): A letter-writer claims that renewables drive up electricity prices, but offers virtually no evidence. On the other hand, there's much expert opinion suggesting the cost of renewables is dropping. For example, former U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu told Scientific American: "Renewable energy is getting cheaper and cheaper. Perhaps within this decade, wind and solar will be as inexpensive as any form of new energy."

When it comes to predictions about the cost of power, whom should we trust? – Gideon Forman, climate change and transportation policy analyst, David Suzuki Foundation

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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 by e-mail, send to:

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