Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/6/2011 (2200 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Wheat board politics
Before our premier launches a costly ad campaign to save the Canadian Wheat Board, he should have reviewed the CWB's mandate. The CWB's purpose is to support revenues of western Canadian farmers, not payrolls in the province of Manitoba. I have friends who work at the CWB and I regret the uncertainty they are facing, but farmers should be the only factor behind the decision about maintaining the monopoly. In that regard, an economic study I worked on for Informa Economics in 2008 showed that, under an open market, grain farmers would be better off by $450 million to $600 million per year due to increased competition for their grain and increased cost efficiency.
Re: Province fights for wheat board (June 14). We are surprised that Martin Cash did not seek opinions from the many farmers who strongly support the CWB. Nor did he mention the tremendous ongoing pressure from the U.S. and the WTO, as well as the big share-holder-owned grain marketing companies like Calgary-based Viterra, to end the CWB marketing board that, once closed, will be closed forever.
Why didn't Cash ask Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen where he stands on the loss of jobs to the Manitoba economy and why he, a provincial leader, so blindly follows the federal agenda at the expense of Manitoba? Where do the Manitoba Conservative MPs stand, those who were elected to take their constituents' concerns to Ottawa? Why are the Conservatives afraid of the farmers' voting on this issue? Where are the democratic principles that the Conservatives claim to embrace?
I am sick and tired of people saying the federal government is dismantling the wheat board. All they have said is that they are removing its monopoly. If it dies, then it will likely be due to one of two things that are inter-related: a) grain farmers kill it themselves by selling their grain elsewhere or b) the Canadian Wheat Board is so inept that there is no way it can survive in an open marketplace.
If they are truly the great grain marketers they say they are, then they have nothing to fear and should be embracing the opportunity to show the country their skill and business savvy. But from the stance taken by the Canadian Wheat Board, it appears they believe it is the latter and that only by maintaining their monopoly can they save themselves from their own ineptitude.
When cost/benefit fails
Premier Greg Selinger's decision to force Manitoba Hydro to abandon the east side for Bipole III was supported last month by David Suzuki. Acknowledging that support in Suzuki slams PC bipole stand (May 28), Selinger is quoted as saying "The point he makes is that you can argue and bicker about the numbers, but we're talking about a priceless asset."
Here's a response without numbers: What do you do when all of the conventional approaches to decision-making do not produce the conclusion you want? Cost-benefit ratios fail. Return on investment analysis produces a decision you do not want. Debt repayment capacity doesn't work. The impact on hydro bills is too large, especially with an election looming. Loan repayment period produces a result too far into the future. After all, you do not want to admit that the decision you want to make would leave your rate-paying great-grandchildren responsible for your mistake.
If you are the NDP premier of Manitoba and David Suzuki talking about Bipole III, you simply call the boreal forest a "priceless asset." This saves you from having to do all the mundane financial analyses that are traditionally done to support decisions on capital expenditures. And it allows you to proceed with the technically and environmentally inferior west-side route for Bipole III, running the line through the farms in the best agro-climatic region of western Canada, disrupting operations like our own along the way. All to save a few trees where very few people ever go.
Bipole III Coalition
Rethink Met support
While realizing the Metropolitan theatre owns a special place in the heart of many a Winnipeg resident, any attempt at reviving it as a performing arts venue ought to be broached with eyes wide open. This city possesses an embarrassment of riches when it comes to theatres and, if truth be told, we need to find the means by which we can ensure the future viability of the infrastructure we've already paid dearly for.
While a private-sector initiative to build a rock-and-roll-theme nightclub and thus resurrect the old Met might seem like a great idea, if it only serves to further dilute the pool of available performing spaces, then it's the wrong approach and, in the end, it only serves to place at risk the millions of dollars already spent by taxpayers to maintain what we already own.
Quite frankly, I don't want my tax dollars directed towards the development of nightclubs, watering holes and theme parks. Old theatres such as the Pantages and the Burt are splendid old rooms and we'd be wise to consider allocating what we can in an effort to preserve gems such as these and make them the preferred destination for both artists and audiences alike.
Nadia Kidwai's review of Irshad Manji's recent book Allah, Liberty and Love (Generalizing undermines cry for Islamic reform, June 11) is not so much a review as a public lashing of a fellow Muslim with the courage to speak out against the flaws inherent in the political ideology known as Islam. Kidwai goes so far as to call Manji's book "racist" and "anti-Arab."
Actually, I think Kidwai, a founding member of the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute, is playing the funny liberal academic game of burying the issues that taint Islam, namely, tribalism, cultural arrogance, sharia law. Indeed, we are told by Kidwai that by obtaining a proper Oxford University Press translation of the Qur'an, we also can understand what Islam has to say about "liberty and love." According to my Qur'an (likely an unapproved version), that would be reverence of holy slavery and preference for death over matters of the heart.
I ask: Why is it that Irshad Manji stands almost alone in her plea for Islamic change? Do other Muslim reformers and writers -- there must be some -- fear a tongue-lashing, too?
The editorial condemning the provincial ban on individual bottles of water deserves a response (Bottled-water ban abuses civil service, June 10). It seems responsible for a government to implement change by first imposing legislation on itself. Subsequently, the ban can be extended to other areas, with the objective of reducing waste and costs.
The editorial writers continue to condemn the government for any attempts at forward measures without offering any alternative suggestions. If status quo were a viable option, landfill wouldn't be such a problem. Unfortunately, the editorial writers at the Winnipeg Free Press do not agree and prefer to follow draconian practices of importing plastic bottles of water in a country that prides itself with the largest supply of fresh water in the world.