Letters and tweets — April 2015

CPA Magazine readers respond to the January/February issue via mail and Twitter.

ASSURANCE PLEASE

I read with concern David Descôteaux’s "Capitalism is Compatible with the Environment" (January/February online edition). My concern is one of informational accuracy, because we accountants are, after all, in that business.

Descôteaux makes statements about air and water quality, forest cover, food production, consumption and cost, and development of natural gas production and hydropower, all attributed to a Pierre Desrochers, associate researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute and associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto.

He extends these statements, saying that capitalism, "the benefits of competition and the quest for profits," is the main reason for these positive things that have happened. He concludes by stating that he thinks our economic system and sustainable development go hand in hand.

If I were to apply rudimentary assurance standards to the information in this article, I would find Descôteaux is currently listed as a staff member of the Montreal Economic Institute, his source of facts, showing a clear lack of independence from his sources. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in political science. A quick review of articles he has written show nothing recent with even a passing reference to the environment. He seems to equate "the environment" and "good for the environment" and "sustainable development," and implies that all his positive statements about improvements in the human condition support his argument. There is no standard to compare these various facts with, nor even definitions of the interchangeable terms that he uses.

Byron Reynolds, Saskatoon

RELEVANT, BUT…

I’ve just read some of the special digital issue (January/February) sourced through the CPA Canada website. Looks like relevant, well-written material, including good feature articles, although I’d have liked to have seen more about the ways in which the profession (through the CPA Canada legacy bodies) has been and is contributing in the areas covered and others, and more about broader opportunities and initiatives than those noted in this issue. I suspect that the authors may have been short on facts and background information about such broader historical and forward- looking perspectives, or simply did not have the space for such matters.

Alan Willis, Toronto

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