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Essence of Canada

Re: Historic sites, parks to lose interpreters (May 4): As a retired employee of Parks Canada, I was extremely saddened to hear of the drastic cuts made to this department by the federal government. Parks Canada has been reduced by such a degree that their important work will be gravely affected.

I was always proud to work for Parks Canada because I felt we represented the very essence of this country. Our mandate was to preserve and protect: our environment, our history and our culture. For the professionals working at Parks Canada, theirs was not just a job but a passion.

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This is a sad time for this country when a valuable institution as this was is sacrificed in order to finance fighter jets, oil company subsidies and obscene expense accounts for the elected hierarchy. Stephen Harper and his cronies should look up the work "integrity" in the dictionary because obviously it is not part of their lexicon.




Lower Fort Garry is a wonderful historic site, but without the interpreters it is a lifeless artifact of wood and stone. Restricting the interpreter program to weekends only in July and August will deprive Manitoba students of valuable knowledge of life in the 19th century.

Happy bicentenary, Selkirk settlers.




Incorrect usage

Re: Quebec students, police battle in streets and It's been a bad week for Quebec Premier Jean Charest (May 5). Please stop calling the restive truancy and brutal violence shown by Quebec's protesting students a "strike." In repeatedly mischaracterizing their actions, the Free Press (among most media players) has misapplied the definition of the word, and by doing so has demeaned the industrial relations process by which services are withheld from an employer for perceived cause.

To aid in the transition back to its legitimate meaning, may I suggest that the paper and its Quebec affiliates feature the word "strike" in its popular Word of the Day feature; distribute copies in both French and English to the rioting students; and in the future, properly label their collective unschooled behaviour what it is -- protracted, petulant, incendiary, academic absenteeism.




Incoherent policies

Re: Blowing smoke (Editorials, May 3). Does the NDP have nothing better to do than to come up with inane laws such as the banning of cigarette sales in stores with pharmacies? Is there any other place in North America that has such a law? Is there any other government that attends only to such minutiae?

What about dealing with our real problems -- high taxes, infrastructure deficit, crime statistics, health care, the provincial debt, poverty, etc.?

What gives the NDP the right to interfere in my personal life? I pay my taxes, I donate to charities, I help my neighbours, I break no laws, and I smoke alone. Yes, I know the harmful effects of this addiction, but surely I am allowed my choice.

I cannot understand (possibly because of my dead brain cells) the logic of opening liquor outlets in grocery stores while further imposing tighter controls on cigarettes. Unlike smoking, liquor intake is the basis of horrendous societal problems, and yet the NDP is expanding its availability.




Animus toward Jews

Whenever the topic of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is raised, a litany of comments appears on the Free Press website. A recurring objection is that the CMHR is really a "Holocaust museum" and that public tax dollars are going towards a project that favours Jewish interests.

After Gordon Sinclair Jr.'s May 5 column, Can't share a vision when no one asks, the online animus towards Jews reached a new low. One person calling himself, "Cpl. Punishment," commented: "Canadians must realize that the CMHR is our misfortune and demand a final solution."

The commenter played upon a famous Nazi slogan: "The Jews are our misfortune." The Final Solution is, in the context of Jewry, the well-known Nazi euphemism for genocide. When challenged on his use of such language, Cpl. Punishment claimed that he was neither racist nor condoning the genocide of Jews or anyone else.

I have no faith in the transformative power others place in the CMHR. If what people expect it to do isn't already happening, we are in big trouble. When people can so glibly toss out anti-Semitic slogans and genocidal euphemisms in a public forum over a public institution, we are much closer to repeating history than learning from it.




Spectrum of opinion

I am always bemused by your correspondents who write to praise or to attack your columnists. On May 5, there are five letters in favour of or opposed to Frances Russell and Tom Oleson.

A responsible newspaper will provide signed opinions on all sides of the political spectrum. Russell and Oleson certainly represent differing viewpoints; other columnists, like Lindor Reynolds and Gordon Sinclair, provide yet more perspectives.

It is not possible for all of your columnists to please me, or to write things that I agree with. That's life, and I appreciate the fact that I have so many alternatives to sample.

To those correspondents who want some of your columnists censored or silenced, I say, "Give it a rest. If you don't like it, don't read it."

Thank you for the breadth of opinion your columnists provide.




I had to laugh when I read the May 5 letters to the editor. I've read countless letters in your paper responding to Frances Russell's columns, and as James Penner so eloquently stated, very few have anything to do with the actual information she is trying to relay; they just spew vitriolic nonsense.

Russell may not like the Conservative government, and it may be apparent in her column, but everything she writes about is invariably true. So I suppose conservatives have no alternative but to attack the writer.




A separate law

Re: Ex-mogul returns to Toronto home (May 5). Now we have Conrad Black back in Toronto. Years ago he discarded his Canadian citizenship in order to get social status in England as a lord. Then the judicial system in the United States sent him to jail for illegal activities.

Now the Canadian government claims that "experienced civil servants" are allowing Black to enter here with a temporary permit (which will probably be followed up with his regaining his Canadian citizenship, I guess).

We do not know who gave him the authorization to come into Canada without joining the long queue that other applicants must navigate -- neither the Prime Minister nor the immigration minister are taking responsibility for that.

Long ago when I came here, I did not have those kinds of connections in high places; I just respected the legal procedures like everyone else. What has happened to the concept of one law for everyone?




Lacking confidence

Re: Rough road to redemption (May 5). It's not so much the increase to the PST that bothers most people, but what the government will do with it.

How do we know it will go to infrastructure and not for other purposes, such as paying down the debt? If we knew that the increase was going for better roads, great. But, then again, isn't that what the increase in the gas tax is for?




Informative reading

I read with interest Marg Friesen's April 24 letter in which she talks about all cellphone manufacturers issuing written safety warnings about keeping a cellphone a certain distance from any part of your body.

I read mine for the first time, and sure enough it says "1.5 centimetres away from body." I did some further reading and found many studies say the same.

Perhaps an overwhelming amount of evidence is not yet in, but just enough for every cellphone company to issue a written warning. User, beware. Check the owner's manual.


Sarto, Man.


Irrelevant terminology

I had to laugh when I heard a person on the radio referring to our proposed "world-class" water park. Have you noticed the proliferation of the use of that term?

The definition of world-class is goods, services and processes that are ranked by customers and industry experts to be among the best of the best. This designation denotes standard-setting excellence in terms of design, performance, quality and customer satisfaction and value when compared with all similar items from anywhere in the world.

As far as I am concerned, this is yet another term the PR and marketing jokers have rendered irrelevant. Of course, politicians and journalists have jumped on the bandwagon to use this phrase as much as possible without knowing what they are talking about.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2012 A11


Updated on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 9:59 AM CDT: adds links

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