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Take a bow, Tony

Re: StatsCan's reputation in question (July 23). I find it troubling that Statistics Canada officials and others believe that it is desirable to give a government agency "complete independence." When thousands of Canadians object to a long, mandatory census that is too intrusive into their personal and private affairs, how else can their concerns be addressed but by intervention of the government minister responsible for that agency?

Although government agencies should have jurisdiction over their day-to-day operations, they are still answerable to their respective government ministers, who in turn are supposed to represent the people who elect them. Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement's mistake is not that he made the long form voluntary, but rather that he did not take credit for making the change!

Henry Wedel

Winnipeg

No entitlement

Re: the letter by Sarah Boult Pereirs (Holding applause, July 21). I am glad your mom enjoyed the show Rent and made it home safely. I have no idea if she had to walk that same 15 minutes from the bus to the show, but being old or disabled does not mean you cannot plan ahead.

I certainly am not that age but being short on cab fare is not age-based. Many, many events I have missed because of this. It is not life-threatening, it is simply a missed entertainment event. Sometimes these events provide shuttle service that is free and sometimes not.

Never, ever should we expect public or private event operators to pay the tab for us to get there and back, whether we are seniors and disabled or not. Plan how to get there and back. If costs are covered, that's a bonus. To expect it as a entitlement is simply wrong.

DOUG DEROUIN

Brandon

Slow soap opera

Year after year and episode after episode, the storyline of the soap opera, Main Street City Hall, continues. As in television soap operas, not much changes in the overall plot as time passes. As a result, not too many programs that are developed under the umbrella of the Main Street City Hall soap opera are produced and aired.

For example -- let's consider the program As The Rapid Transit Turns. First we were promised a series written around bus rapid transit. But before this series could be aired, the director was changed and he cancelled this and ordered a new one be written.

A new series was written which, to nobody's surprise, resembled the original bus rapid transit series. Consequently, the infrastructure for this production began to be developed. But before it was finished, the director again decided that he did not like the bus rapid transit program and ordered a review of program types. And so it came to pass that the director convinced a majority of his cast that a light rail transit series should be the "preferred option."

When will a real program be aired? If the director and cast are not replaced in October they just might again rewrite the whole plot and As The Rapid Transit Turns may not go into production in the foreseeable future.

During the past six years the soap opera As The Rapid Transit Turns has not turned a wheel. However, because of the dithering and consequent time delays, production costs have escalated. This cost escalation has a negative impact on this program and decreases the availability of funds for others. When will the people who pay for these programs get to see a real rapid transit program?

John G. Kubi

Winnipeg

Wrong warplane

I agree with Rob Dyck's letter (Wrong plane, wrong time, July 26) against Canada purchasing the Lockheed F-35 Lightning fighter jet. As he says, the three newest European fighters perform better and cost less than this new and unproven American jet. Even the one other American fighter on the market, the F-18 E Super Hornet, costs approximately $50 million less per unit than the F-35. The best value for our defence dollar would be the Swedish Saab Gripen fighter. Its unit cost is approximately $55 million as compared to the F-35's unit cost of approximately $130 million.

The Gripen has significantly better speed, range, manoeuverability and weapon load. As well, it has cutting-edge avionics and can operate from short, unimproved landing strips and roads. Besides Sweden, the air forces of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand have purchased it and it is in contention for India's new fighter plane.

JOHN M. CRAIG

Winnipeg

Breathalyze them

After losing one of my best friends a few years ago to a drunk driver who ran a red light, it saddens me to know newly released statistics show an increase in drunk drivers. The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission and MPI continue to advertise, though unless the increase in numbers is due to a more vigilant approach by the police and RCMP, obviously the message is not getting across to those who continue to drink and drive.

Although not all drinking takes place in pubs and bars, the owners of these establishments have to take more responsibility. Some employ bouncers to quell the rowdiness, but all should have a breathalyzer at the exit doors of their establishments. Human rights, they will cry. I believe all rights are lost when you are over the limit and try to drive.

Naomi Finkelstein

Winnipeg

The Maori way

Colleen Simard writes about Maori politics in New Zealand, but omits two important points (Canada could learn from New Zealand's Maori, July 24). At the present time, Maori MPs make up about 16 per cent of the seats in the New Zealand parliament, which is slightly higher than the Maori proportion of the population. These seats comprise some Maori-designated or "list" seats and some general seats.

What is important to understand is that in Canada our aboriginal leaders constantly demand self-government. The New Zealand approach is the opposite of this. In New Zealand, the Maori leadership plays an integral and meaningful role in the mainstream national political/governance system. In other words, they are working from inside, not outside the tent.

The second important point which Simard does not mention is that there are no Indian reserves in Maori-land.

Robert Foster

Winnipeg

What about Bert?

Re: Rob Williams' review of Neil Young's concert (Old, new songs forever Young, (July 27). While Neil offered a warm, intimate retrospective of his work, interspersed with contemplative new pieces, which were a joy to absorb, Williams must have missed the entirely exquisite introductory act: Bert Jansch, of Pentangle and John Redbourn, an inspiration to Neil himself. Bert was not included in his glowing review.

Like the young adults sitting behind us, who chatted through Bert's performance, Williams seems to be main-event-focused. How much they missed. Both Bert and Neil's performances were musically sensual, mystical and riveting.

A good concert stays with you for several days. A great one, for a lifetime.

Thank you, Neil and Bert, for a mature, thoughtful and mystically evocative concert. We loved it.

Sonja Krickhan

Carman

Insulin pumps

Re: $110-million plan to fight aboriginal diabetes (July 29). Without question, Type 2 diabetes is a problem that needs to be addressed in Manitoba. The government has announced a $110-million plan to fight this disease. How about finding a few bucks to fund insulin pumps for those of us living with Type 1 diabetes? For less than $10,000 per person, these wonderful medical devices can make a huge difference in the health and well-being of people who must rely on insulin to stay alive. The cost is often prohibitive to the individual, but would be a drop in the bucket for the government of Manitoba, which, in return, would save thousands of dollars in health care services over the lifetime of the individual benefiting from this device. Some people with Type 2 diabetes can also improve their health status significantly through the use of insulin pumps.

Take a page from the Ontario government, which has found a way to improve the lives of both children and adult residents with diabetes. Where is our chronic-care strategy in Manitoba?

ELLEN KARR

Winnipeg

Check all vehicles

I have a suggestion: Why not spot-check city transit buses, Winnipeg cabs, Winnipeg city trucks of any size, Winnipeg police cars and trucks? I guarantee you would find a large percentage of them are not up to safety standards, as many of them are abused and not maintained as they should be. Why not make a safety check mandatory for every vehicle, no matter what type, if safety is really the main concern here.

ROBERT Cooke

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2010 A13

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