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Creative avoidance

Re: Opposition unites against Tory budget; election likely (March 23). In light of the many highly unusual events of late in Canadian politics (the governing party being found in contempt of parliament, two prorogations in the last 18 months, the recent spate of minority governments, etc.), perhaps we should take another highly unusual approach to creatively avoid an election this spring.

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Within our constitution, it states that, should the house lose confidence in the ruling party, an election may, but does not have to be, the result. With about a year and a half until our next fixed election date, the Governor General could approach the opposition parties to ask if they could form a viable government until that time.

What is stopping the GG from instructing parliament to form a caucus from all sitting representatives? There could be representation from all of the parties, a vote in the House for a leader, and a quick "getting back to the business of governing."

I can see that this would be very difficult for many of the people who have been elected to represent us, but then again, they've been sent there to govern. From my point of view, many people on Parliament Hill have put more effort into undermining one another than simply doing what is right for you, me and the rest of us who love our country. Maybe forcing them to find a way to work it out is exactly what our politicians and our country need.

KRISTIN STEFANSSON

Winnipeg

�ñº

Hey hey ho ho

The NDP and Liberals have to go

For forcing an election

To re-elect Larry, Curly and Moe

BETTY PALEN

Winnipeg

�ñº

Re: Political questions likely to be answered soon (March 21). Unfortunately, the political question not answered for Canadians will be: Regardless of which party we elect, how much corruption, deceit and greed will we elect with it?

Sadly, experience has shown, the answer to that usually comes quite quickly. As Canadians, we need to demand a much higher standard from our elected and appointed representatives.

TIMOTHY CONNELL

Carman

Religion still thrives

I read with interest the front-page teaser on March 23 saying that religion, "statistically speaking," was "nearing extinction in Canada." I flipped to the article, Canadians join nations abandoning religion. Imagine my surprise upon discovering the statistic that 16 per cent of Canadians do not claim a religious affiliation.

This means 84 per cent of Canadians do claim a religious affiliation. Common definitions for the word extinction are: no longer active; extinguished; no longer in existence; complete annihilation.

With 84 per cent of Canadians claiming religious affiliation, it is clear that religion in Canada is neither extinct nor abandoned.

CHERYL DOIRON

Winnipeg

�ñº

I don't have a problem with the supposed decline in religious belief, because I submit it doesn't exist. People who call themselves atheists or agnostics really have more faith than believers in most conventional religions.

Certainly it takes more faith to believe in rational patterns of matter with no source rather than the converse. Some maintain the Church is full of hypocrites, but have they ever checked city hall?

Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins call religion a violent antique, but was it the nation-state or the Church that bombed Hiroshima?

Some days I just wish more people like Nietzsche were around. At least then the Church would have a worthy adversary, rather than the "faitheists" that now abound.

DAN PAETKAU

Winnipeg

�ñº

In his March 22 letter, Disrespectful humour, Tony Zerucha, as a self-described Christian, "takes great offence" at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ being used in another article in the Free Press.

He shouldn't allow his "great offence" to get out of hand. History records that, in another time and place, "great offence" was reason enough for torture and death, in the name of Christianity.

Besides, as far as he and I know, his repeated references to "Him" may be erroneous. God might turn out to be of the feminine gender.

ALLAN MacLEOD

Winnipeg

Debate unlikely

Further to Alex Passey's March 18 letter, Nuclear debate, contesting the basis of the March 15 Free Press editorial Disaster lessons to learn, and Gwynne Dyer's March 18 column, Nuclear hysteria on the rise, until we are to be presented with facts instead of opinion there is really nothing resembling a debate happening.

Passey gives the factual information that there is no known way to dispose of "used" fuel rods from a reactor. He might have added that those fuel rods must be stored under water or they will heat up and become as dangerous as a bomb in their long-term devastation to the environment. Also a fact is that that those same spent fuel rods need to be stored for 500,000 years before they will be safe.

As much as I agree with Passey, I believe there will not be a real debate in Canada because our politicians think in four-year concepts of accountability and re-election. I further realize that we live in a plutocracy, a governmental system run by and for the extreme rich and the economy that maintains their wealth. So it is highly unlikely that "our" government will encourage an honest debate.

SHANE NESTRUCK

Winnipeg

�ñº

I always thought Gwynne Dyer had more common sense than to compare a nuclear meltdown to a crumbling hydro dam. That is ridiculous. The damage done in human costs and to the environment with a burst dam would be of an immediate nature.

But with a nuclear meltdown, we're talking about a mass of a 100 tonnes of material at 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, with hydrogen being generated and burning explosively, melting through concrete into the soil.

Plutonium is the most fiendishly toxic substance ever known. Three tablespoonfuls could cause nine billion human cancers. But each nuclear plant creates thousands of pounds of waste plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,000 years, and there's no way to store it.

So it's all well and good for Dyer to speak about how "we are educated, civilized people, and we understand the way that risk works." But what about the generations that follow? What toll this will take on them?

LOIS TAYLOR

Winnipeg

Fee rise problematic

The March 19 article Community centres hit jackpot appears to be a good-news story. It is wonderful that money will be spent to clean up the city's community clubs and public areas so they are better used and so the users have more pride in their neighbourhood facilities.

But there is no mention that the recreation fees are going up, way up. These fee increases will limit many people's, and especially the kids', access to club activities and sports programs. We know when kids participate in sport, they have the opportunity to develop self-confidence, make healthy choices, feel connected and learn the skills necessary to become the leaders of tomorrow. I would prefer the city raise my property taxes instead of recreation fees.

ANNE GREWAR

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 25, 2011 A15

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