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Losing common sense

Re: City may pour $20M into photo radar (Nov. 16). It was only a week ago that the charges against a sexual predator were dismissed because of an 18-month delay in serving the warrant (Girl's sex-assault case tossed, Nov. 8), presumably because of a lack of manpower available to the Winnipeg Police Service. Now some committee thinks it is a good idea to commit $20 million to photo radar? Have we lost all common sense at city hall?

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If the Nov. 8 article is correct and there are 20,000 warrants in effect at any one time and "the vast majority are overlooked and only enforced when officers stumble across an accused person in another, unrelated matter," then we clearly have a problem that is significantly more urgent that photo radar cameras.

If city council were to ask the people who put them there, I suspect most would be willing to tolerate a few more speeding drivers if it meant the removal of the rapists, pedophiles and violent criminals presently walking our street.



Lehotsky's dream

November 11 marked six years since Rev. Harry Lehotsky, pastor, community builder, advocate for the West End and founder of the Ellice Café and Theatre, passed away.

The Ellice Café closed in August, seven years after its opening. The café was Lehotsky's dream, a place where people of all classes, all races and all backgrounds in the community could hang out, a place to meet friends and connect and eat healthy food at affordable prices.

Why is there public and private money for arenas, stadiums, convention centres and museums but none for a little community café in a historic building with upstairs apartments and a theatre attached to it? Where are all the people who depended on Harry to solve problems, give advice and face dangers? The need is still there and we cannot let the dream die.



Our right to know

Re: 'Frankenfoods' not a threat to consumers (Nov. 15). The push to label genetically modified foods is not so much about the unknown long-term effects on humans. From the consumers' point of view, it is more about our right to know what is in the food we are buying and consuming.

Monsanto spent $46 million to defeat California's Prop 37. They claim that a label indicating a food's GM status would increase the average consumer's food bill by hundreds of dollars per year. This is nonsense. One extra line on already existing labels would require little or no extra expense.

In their campaign, they illegally included the U.S. Federal Drug Administration logo in a "No on 37" mailing to state residents, and made up a quote from the FDA, which the FDA refuted. They used the Stanford logo when the university did not take a stand for or against Prop 37. They lied about Henry Miller's status as a Stanford professor (he is not).

Monsanto is afraid that if the public rejects GM foods, they will lose billions in profits when farmers save their seeds from the current crop to plant the next year instead of buying new seeds every spring.



No intent to destroy

Re: Genocidal distortion (Letters, Nov. 8). In his response to my Nov. 3 column, Redefining genocide, Andrew Woolford argues that the residential schools qualify as genocide under Article 2 (e) of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

That forced transfer was meant to be permanent; I believe graduates of residential schools were free to return to their home reserves if they wished. A classic example of forced transfer indictable under Article 2(e) would be the seizure and "Germanization" of Polish children by the Third Reich. Most of these children were never reunited with their parents.

More critical to Woolford's argument is his taking Article 2 (e) out of context of the subordinating definition of genocide: "acts committed with an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."

Canada is most often accused of committing cultural genocide, but no one has yet been able to establish an intent to destroy the group. The burden of proof for convicting a party of genocide is similar to that of proving first-degree murder, but cultural genocide does not involve murder.

What is left for Woolford et al to argue is the possibility of a bloodless genocide, a genocide of things.

Woolford mentions "how little we have done to decolonize Canada." It is difficult for me to see a need for decolonization in my immediate neighbourhood, populated as it is with the peoples of the world. But it is easy to follow the news and discern a need for decolonization when people living on reserves can't own real property or have to live under hereditary rule in perpetuity, by a non-aboriginal even in at least one local instance.

It is easy to see in the news where treaty status persons experience a wide disparity in governance and civil rights due to pre-liberal, colonial jurisprudence. What could be perpetuating the colonialist pathology more than the law that established civil demarcation in North America, the Royal Proclamation of 1763?

Can you decolonize while maintaining so much of the colonial system? The pluralism in my backyard seems to be working well in spite of that paradox.



Parking a squabble

Re: Land at Forks incites squabble (Nov. 15). Instead of squabbling over what to do with this property, here is a novel idea. What is really needed now, and even more when the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opens, is more (reasonable) parking.

Sell the land to someone who will build a multi-level parking structure with a facade similar to Johnson Terminal's or stone to match the Upper Fort Garry gate. It would be a good mix of function and tradition. End of squabble.



Imagining the worst

Re: Busting the city's deals (Editorials, Nov. 9) This editorial causes one to imagine what sort of debacle would have ensued if the city's administration had been allowed to continue with the initiative that could have seen the sale of municipal golf courses for development other than green space. OURS Winnipeg had it right.



Aren't we already?

What a brilliant idea to double the price of parking to open up spaces (Toonie-an-hour parking meters ticking, Nov. 14).

Just think, if we quadrupled or quintupled the meter price, our city could become the envy of all Canadian motorists.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 17, 2012 A17

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