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Fix MP pensions

The recently announced changes to old age security benefits are a modest and measured response to the challenging burden of an aging population in Canada. As a directly affected member (born in 1959) of that population, I am willing to accept this and do my part to ease the burden on my children and future generations. I am a fortunate person who has (thus far) never been on social assistance, never drawn employment insurance.

Together with my wife, we have raised three healthy, responsible and productive children. I've engaged in retirement planning since my mid-20s and always assumed it was not prudent to count on OAS benefits. So, whatever my wife and I ultimately receive is bonus to our planning. We are not a wealthy family. We've just had the good fortune of learning early in life the value of retirement planning and starting young. As a result, barring unforeseen catastrophe and the ability to work until a reasonable retirement age, we will be fine.

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However, what absolutely galls me about this decision, and should offend all Canadians, is the audacity of our federal politicians of all political persuasions to make such a decision while leaving the gold-plated MP pension plan unaffected. Millions of Canadians of modest means will have their retirement lifestyles dramatically affected by this, while our MPs go on gorging at the public trough. It's a disgusting display of the bourgeois contempt you have for the very people who elect you and pay your way.

Ron Janzen



Re: A budget for most Canadians (Editorials, March 30). Regarding the federal budget's proposed changes to retirement, you describe them as "a sensible response" to changing demographics. But it is significant to look at who will be affected. For the wealthiest Canadians, these changes will have no impact. Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty will likely have retirement incomes above the maximum cut-off for OAS.

However, for most Canadians delaying retirement age, it will mean robbing them of more than $500 a month for two years, or $12,000. Is this really a budget for most of us? It is more like a budget for Canada's favoured one per cent.

Josh Brandon



Thanks for your help

The directors of the Lake Manitoba flood committee would like to thank the employees of Manitoba Agriculture for their tireless efforts to assist those affected by the flood of 2011.

You have shown compassion, diligence and integrity to help so many families who have had their lives put on hold by this disaster.

You have helped us in our frustrations and urgent needs to get things done.

Your long hours, professionalism and patience have not gone unnoticed.

The effects of the flood continue, but we want to pause to say thank you.

Tom Teichroeb

Lake Manitoba Narrows


Right to wear armour

The editorial Guns and armour (April 2) is total nonsense. Prohibiting body armour and the ownership and use of fortified vehicles is a total infringement of personal liberty. In a free country, anyone who can afford one should be able to drive an armoured truck.

And who would be stupid enough to believe that criminals won't be able to get outlawed body armour when they are already toting illegal firepower?

Why should agents of the state and the specially privileged be first-class citizens enjoying all the protection they can afford while everyone else must be exposed to the firepower of criminals?

Chris Buors



Politically neutral police

Re: Police links to Katz costly (Letters, March 29). I was very surprised to read that the Winnipeg Police Service had endorsed the political campaign of Sam Katz during the mayoral election. As a former chief of the Investigation Police in Chile, I find this is not only unethical, but totally unacceptable. At present in the Chilean system, the police force comes under the supervision of two national branches of government: the Ministry of the Interior and the Supreme Court.

Members of the police force are able to vote as individual citizens, but are not allowed to be associated with political parties, nor endorse candidates either as individuals or as part of an institution. This is what I call ethical. And another difference in Chile: There are no unions for the police -- they are not like clerks in a store.

The police department is a public institution that should be there to serve all citizens, not only the supporters of the city's mayor.

Francisco Valenzuela



Harper's new Canada

Re: Caring Canada a distant memory after this budget (March 31). Say what you like about Paul Martin and the Liberals, but in the run-up campaign to the 2006 federal election, Martin warned Canadians that a Stephen Harper government would enact a very different vision of Canada.

Well, it is too late to heed that warning. We are a Canada that cares less for the environment, the world's less fortunate and each other. The 2012 budget is just another ingredient in the slow and methodical dismantling of the Canada we once were. Much is being thrown under the proverbial bus: Witness the assault on environmental groups that refuse to parrot this government's toothless environmental policies, the elimination of all funding dollars to faith-based aid agencies like Kairos (recall the "Oda Affair"), Mennonite Central Committee and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace while giving CIDA funding to Canadian 'for-profit' mining companies who partner with NGOs in developing countries, and finally, a reactive, fear-based crime bill that off-loads its costs onto provinces that cannot bear the weight.

Yes, indeed, a caring Canada is a distant memory. And next time you get a robocall giving you new directions, you might well fear that democracy itself is becoming a distant memory, too.

Sandra Stewart



Courageous play

As visitors to Winnipeg, my husband and I wanted to experience some local theatre. So when we read the profile of playwright Steve Ratzlaff (Asking hard questions about doing hard time, March 29), we were intrigued. We immediately ordered tickets for Dionysus In Stony Mountain.

Thank goodness we did, because if we'd waited to read the review the following day we probably wouldn't have gone.

The play was superb. Congratulations to Ratzlaff for creating such a stellar piece of work. It was courageous, provocative and challenging, Above all, it was intelligent. And the acting was excellent.

Lois Sweet

Mill Village, NS

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 3, 2012 A11


Updated on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 1:09 PM CDT: adds links

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