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Fairness for all

I am a 20-year-old student who was in Montreal in February at the beginning of the student protests. I was initially apprehensive about supporting the Québécois movement. After all, here I am paying substantially more for my education than they do.

Yet, now I realize that this was a shallow reaction on my part. This issue is not simply about cheaper education; it is about what kind of society we as Canadians want.

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Do we want a divisive or an inclusive society? Do we want a society where everybody works and supports everybody equally? Are we a nation, a family or simply a collection of individuals? Do we want fair education, fair health care, fair pensions?

This should not be a French versus English issue, nor should it be a generational battle. Does the older generation want to help give the younger generation the tools we need to maintain a vibrant economy? This is a question we all must answer.

Please do not bemoan the lack of youth political participation and then dismiss students as entitled whiners the second we take a stand for something in which many passionately believe.




A legal obligation

Edward Katz's May 26 letter, Starving for the truth, neglects to provide context for the visit by Olivier de Schutter, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. The visit came about after the government of Canada agreed to invite him to visit and to report on what he saw.

We did so because in 1976 Canada signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which spells out the right to food as a fundamental human right. It is thus defined by the United Nations: "The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement."

By signing this document, Canada has a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food.

Katz notes that our food-insecurity rate has fallen from 9.2 per cent to 7.7 per cent. Here are some numbers to put that in context. Approximately 1.9 million people in Canada, aged 12 or older, lived in food-insecure households in 2007-2008 and a staggering 1 in 10 families, 10.8 per cent, with at least one child under the age of six were food-insecure during the same period.

In 2011, Food Banks Canada calculated that close to 900,000 Canadians were accessing food banks for assistance each month, slightly over half of whom were receiving social assistance.

These rates of food insecurity are unacceptable, and it is time for Canada to adopt a national right-to-food strategy.




The new Dark Ages

Re: Controlling information (Letters, May 26). I agree with Steven Robbins, but the slogan of the Harper government is: Ignorance to control.

Many Conservative governments keep the citizenry ignorant to control them, as the Taliban did with women in Pakistan. Scientific research was banned by the Catholic papacy during the Dark Ages, to prevent discoveries that could have challenged biblical scripture and threatened the church's power and religious control.

Contrary to Richard Dixon's assertion, the decision to close down the Experimental Lakes Area was very easy for Harper to make. A decision is only difficult if the decider cares about the possible negative side-effects.

Also, Harper was happy to shut down the ELA to avoid any possible water-environment research that may threaten the oilsands development.




Motorcycle menace

Re: Cellphone crackdown (May 25). Accident statistics tell the truth. People who text or talk on their cellphones while driving are distracted to the point where many are causing accidents resulting in serious injuries and deaths.

My husband and I ride a motorcycle and we regularly see car drivers carelessly using their cellphones while driving, be it looking down and texting (the "head bob" is a dead giveaway) or trying to turn a corner with one hand on the wheel while the other firmly grips the cellphone. We have even witnessed City of Winnipeg employees doing this.

We are utterly frustrated and angry with this flagrant disregard for the law. We motorcycle riders don't stand a chance with distracted drivers drifting into our lane or rear-ending us as we sit innocently at a red light.

They are completely oblivious that their behaviour could be a matter of life and death for us and for others.




Blue box solution

Re: Blue boxes to garden boxes? (May 26). There is an easy solution to blue boxes: keep them. Do you want to run to the toter every time you have a pop bottle our newspaper? Leave the toter on the curbside. Fill up the blue box. When it's full, dump it in the toter.

We have two blue boxes on the patio and one in the basement. We will keep them and when they are full, we will dump them in the toter. Your blue box is like a garbage bag for recycling.


WM Waste Management



Justice in action

Re: Father accused of abduction could drag out extradition (May 30). Just so I understand it, Kevin Maryk may fight extradition to Winnipeg? While he's fighting extradition, he's in a Mexican jail?

I'm OK with that. Take your time.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 31, 2012 A12

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