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Decade of dithering

Re: City charged for sewage spill (Oct. 26). Dumping partly untreated waste into the Red River last year was a predictable result of years of neglect of our waste-water infrastructure. The City of Winnipeg has dithered for a decade on upgrading both its south and North End waste-water treatment plants.

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Winnipeggers were promised that the private consulting firm Veolia would help us complete required sewage upgrades while saving us millions of dollars. To date, there have been millions in consultation salaries, no savings and no work begun on either of the plants.

Manitobans all deserve top-quality water treatment. What comes out of our pipes in Winnipeg ends up polluting the shores of Lake Winnipeg and communities downstream. Manitobans do not want to hear their politicians blaming each other. We want a safe and secure environment.


Green Action Centre



So, the taxpayer is on the hook for a year of the Conservation Department investigating the city's sewage spill? The taxpayer is also on the hook for the Justice Department charging the city for the spill.

The taxpayer is on the hook for the city to defend itself. The taxpayer is on the hook for a $1.5-million fine. The taxpayer receives a $1.5-million windfall.

This is the Department of Government Efficiency firing on all cylinders.



Case for tax increase

While Brian Pallister's failure to pose an alternative source of tax revenue for his proposed tax-exemption hike (Finance minister beats back Pallister's income-tax-exemption idea, Oct. 25) exposes his political opportunism, but nonetheless there is a valid case to be made for increasing the Manitoba tax threshold.

Given the growing disparity in income levels throughout our corporate-dominated society, why can't our NDP government raise the income-tax-exemption level to be the highest in Canada and balance off the loss of tax revenue that low-income-earners now pay with a wealth-equity tax -- by adding a few points to the income tax that the wealthy pay?

Furthermore, putting more money in the hands of low earners will be a significant economic stimulus, resulting in more tax revenue.




I like the idea Brian Pallister proposes to raise the basic personal exemption level. Is he now willing to commit the Conservative party to a raise in either the corporate income tax level or the income taxes of the wealthiest?

That would be a press conference really worthy of attending.



Addressing anti-Semitism

In his Oct. 22 letter, Curt Pankratz posits a straw-man argument in reply to Michelle Whiteman's Oct. 17 statement that "singling Israel out from the nations of the world for selective condemnation and opprobrium that is considered discriminatory and hateful" is anti-Semitic. He inappropriately frames her view as having a temporal quality that means "we can never question only one country at a time" and then draws false conclusions.

Here are some examples of the anti-Semitism Whiteman is addressing. The UN Human Rights Council has only one permanent item on its agenda, namely the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned this biased agenda item. The council has ordered five one-sided commissions of inquiry against Israel, yet created none for victims of mass killings in Iran, North Korea, China, Congo, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and many other repressive regimes.

When the council met in September 2012, one day was devoted to examining violations in the entire world and one full day to Israel. Half of the council's country resolutions have dealt with Israel, but there have been no resolutions against known human rights violators such as China or Pakistan. Israel is the only country subject to a permanent investigator whose mandate examines the actions of only one side and presumes guilt in advance.

Ki-moon condemned Richard Falk, the UN "expert" in charge, for suggesting that 9/11 was an inside job by the U.S. government.

Critics of Israel have no reason to fear being labelled anti-Semitic if they shine the same light on other countries who are committing human rights violations as they do on Israel.




On Oct. 10 about 3 a.m., the Israeli kibbutz where I was visiting my daughter and family was awakened by bombs thrown by Gaza residents.

The next day, my daughter, who works 30 minutes away in Beer-Sheba with the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, took me to Beer Sheba's hospital to witness a graduation ceremony of the Jordanian Red Cross and Israel's Blue Mogen David.

I sat with the Jordanian Red Cross director who told me that since the JRC does not give degrees to their graduates, he has them study with the BMD at the Ben Gurion University, where all the graduates -- Jordanians and Israelis -- are given a bachelor's degree.

It was a beautiful ceremony where Jordanians and Israelis sat together, laughed and joked and ate in peace and friendship.

My daughter works closely with a Bedouin person who together instituted a school for Bedouin women to become school teachers. Together -- my Israeli daughter and her Bedouin partner -- began an elementary school for both Israeli and Bedouin children. Incidentally, my daughter and her co-worker won a $10,000 prize for their peaceful work with Israelis and Bedouins.

Despite the bombs, Jews and Arab Bedouin work together, eat together and play together.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 27, 2012 A16

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