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Re: A sign church group doesn't want to see, Jan. 30.

It is my understanding that we live in a time of free speech; since when is the possibility of potentially conflicting with or maligning someone's core beliefs and values at some unforeseen time in the future even up for debate? I hate to be the one to inform Rob Charach, Jeff Thiessen, Lorraine de Monye and Glenn Miller that their students and fellow worshippers' core values and beliefs will be challenged and tested through the entirety of their lives, as with all individuals, secular or ecclesiastic.

If they fear that a billboard has the power to corrupt the core values and impede the positive learning that they and their staff impart to their students, then perhaps their larger concern should be with the strength and power of their rooted lessons as opposed to the strength and power of a billboard that has yet to see the light of day.



Give us some numbers

Re: Meaningless numbers, Jan. 28.

Dianne Sawatsky's views on the quality of education are simplistic and unreasonable. Standardized exams are one method to see how students have progressed. It would be lovely for students to make a music video or choreograph a ballet to explain all that they have learned in a semester but this is impossible for a number of reasons. Parents want a number and want to see how their children compare to others. Employers and universities want to know what knowledge these individuals have. Few job interviews have room for self-expression. Unfortunately, our system is increasingly moving away from standards that can be quantified. Schools are removing numbers and percentages from reports, few students are held back if they don't learn what they are supposed to. The entire school system has been "dumbed down" so that students with lower abilities don't feel bad about themselves. It is a true crime that capable, motivated students are being sacrificed to help the recalcitrant and indifferent.



We are what we build

The Jan. 26 article Above it all, which extols the virtues of Winnipeg's downtown walkway system, unfortunately, misses it all. The walkways are a blight on the downtown, marring the esthetics of Winnipeg's foremost avenue and defacing important edifices including the Bay and now the new Hydro building. We become what we build, and if we pay little or no attention to what we build, then few will pay any attention to us. Of course the walkways are convenient and warm, but they would have been just as convenient and just as warm if they had been built underground. It is truly unfortunate that the construction of a first-rate Hydro building did not prompt a rethinking of this debasement of our premiere thoroughfare.



Cut taxes for those over 90

On Jan. 30, your newspaper had an article about provincial taxes being allotted to the Winnipeg School Division (Grant comes with a hitch). The following idea has been on my mind for quite a while. I am now in my mid-90s, and this household has been paying the education tax for something like 72 years -- without having any children. Supporting the education system has been important, because education is a must for every child in this world.

Now, because of my great age, I would like to suggest that there be a cut-off for everyone over 90. There may be other taxpayers who feel the same way, but haven't the courage to put the idea in writing. OK, ninety-ish taxpayers, this is your opportunity to voice your opinions. Let us see how many of you agree or disagree with this proposition.



Hydro power isn't clean

Re: Hydro plans $1-B deal with Minnesota power, Jan. 30.

Many Manitobans, myself included, are proud of Manitoba Hydro. Our Hydro engineering accomplishments are world class. Hydro is a Crown corporation owned by all the people of Manitoba and we are reputed to have the lowest electricity rates in North America. And yet when we hear the phrase "clean, renewable energy," as in the announcement of a plan to sell $1 billion of additional hydro-electricity to Minnesota, and that this will require plans for more new dams in northern Manitoba, we have very mixed feelings.

Manitoba Hydro electricity is not "clean." Visit the Hydro sites and see the damage that has been done to the surrounding land. Listen to the people whose lands have been flooded and destroyed and whose communities have suffered because of Hydro power plants. In good conscience, how can we allow further construction of more Hydro power plants in Manitoba until we have solved the problems created by the existing plants?

In the meantime, we should not use the phrase "clean renewable energy" and we should realize that if you calculate the costs to the people and environment of northern Manitoba, it is not "cheap" electricity.



Profit is name of game

We have a trumpeted sale of $1 billion worth of electricity to Minnesota. However, we are not being told what the price per megawatt will be. My hope is that this time around, Manitoba Hydro will act wisely and price the resource in line with other energy prices and not lock us in at a fixed price. Had we had a variable price in past deals, Hydro's fortunes would have been far greater.

A sale at any price is only good if there is a fitting profit attached. Our Hydro history gloats on the "big" sale rather than profit.



Skating rink battle watched

I have been watching with interest the skating rink battle between Ottawa and Winnipeg. We are living in Ottawa and have attended Winterlude faithfully. Most of our friends call us tourists since we participate in local events. There are numerous permanent residents in Ottawa who have never attended Winterlude or skated on the Rideau Canal. I have stood in the painfully long lineups for a beavertail but would be just as satisfied with a granola bar from my backpack. I am planning on attending Festival du Voyageur in February and am looking forward to skating on the world's longest skating rink. My husband and I are returning to Thunder Bay this year where we have a river in our backyard which may give Winnipeg some competition, since weather-permitting, we, too, will have a long skating rink.


Bishops Mills, Ont.

Ice king crown removed

Re: King of the ice, Jan. 30.

With all due respect to Minny Miklos-Driessen, Holland can no longer be considered king of the ice. Miklos-Driessen mentions that the Eleven City tour occurs every year, weather-permitting. The problem is that the last time the Elfstedentocht was held was 10 years ago and much ice patching had to happen before the event could take place. Global warming wins another one.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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