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Amalgamation overdue

Re: Throne speech to urge RMs to amalgamate (Nov. 19). Well done, government of Manitoba. The amalgamation of municipalities under 1,000 people is long overdue and very much needed.

The RM in which we live has a population of about 650. We have a municipal council with four councillors and a reeve. The administration cost for a staff and building, etc., for this small number of people is excessive.

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Having been a school trustee, councillor and reeve over a 10-year period, I have witnessed much abuse. It mostly comes from the fact that with a small population base, there are just not enough people who care. The larger population will have more people who are interested in local politics and maybe we will even have an election, not an acclamation.




Poor deemed valueless

There is an unmistakable confluence between Colleen Simard's Nov. 17 column, Depression quietly afflicting natives, and Randy Turner's feature, The Hurting, in the same edition.

There is sadness among many of us that the lives of so many women are deemed unimportant by various levels of government. Were these women from Tuxedo or River Heights, there would have been many millions of dollars appropriated to find the murderers and bring them to justice. One concludes that since many of these women are poor aboriginals working on the street in the sex trade, they are deemed valueless by their status in our society.

Here is where Simard's column comes into play. There is yet another contributing factor. We know from the study of street people that approximately 70 per cent of the homeless are affected by some form of mental illness, often including depression due to past trauma in their lives. It would be a safe assumption that many of the women on the street live with mental illness that render it very difficult for them to escape their desperate circumstances without some assistance.

You do not have to look very far from the halls of the provincial government, literally on the doorstep of the city hall, to find hundreds of people in need of housing, many of whom are women who could disappear and die without some assistance. We have provincial programs in housing and mental health that can save many of these women.

Why do we continue to play games with their lives and the emotional hurt of their families? Can we not apply the good programs we have created to save many lives? Or as the headline to Turner's article screams, "As a family grieves, society shrugs." Let's do better.




Bypassing Kenaston

Re: Here's an IKEA: Let's find money for traffic woes (Nov. 19). So MP Rod Bruinooge figures that completing the underpass at Waverley Street will help solve the traffic congestion on Kenaston Boulevard? I think his focus is way off base.

Had planners and politicians stayed focused on the original inner-perimeter-road idea, Bishop Grandin would have joined up with William Clement Parkway, bypassing all the Kenaston congestion.

This original plan now looks like it has been tossed out in favour of the Kenaston South extension, with the inclusion of another traffic signal to impede traffic flow.




I have been saying for many years that we do not need widening of the streets. But we do need underpasses and overpasses. That's where the traffic flow starts and comes from. Just look at the small town of Grand Forks, N.D., or just about everywhere else.

I have travelled far and wide and Winnipeg has the worst traffic flow ever. Winnipeg leaders seem to have no vision. They should be able to plan ahead, but sadly that is not being done.

The opening of IKEA, as well as other new developments in the Kenaston area, will only add to the traffic woes, of course. Let's look into the future and start building overpasses and underpasses.




Easy political targets

Re: Claims without substance (Letters, Nov. 17). Unfortunately, or (some would say) fortunately, politics all too often emphasizes, then intentionally bypasses, its required moral foundation.

In the case of Winnipeg's embattled mayor and CAO, their legacies may indeed prove to be ones of good intent and civic fair-mindedness. But, for now, both city officials appear to be walking like lame ducks and quacking like sitting ducks.

As the press well knows, easy political targets are the first to be sighted in the electorate's crosshairs.




Elmwood priorities

Re: Tory riding redesign proposal 'shocking' (Nov. 17). So Elmwood-Transcona MP and Tory backbencher Lawrence Toet wants to get rid of the less affluent part of his riding because the priorities of Elmwood voters are more in sync with voters in Winnipeg Centre (non-Conservative priorities, I assume)?

Vic Toews knows he can afford to donate a part of his heavily Conservative riding to help Toet improve his chances of re-election, which he knows are slim, given his consistent record of voting against the interests of the majority of his constituents.

So why hasn't he suggested palming off Elmwood on the riding of Kildonan-St. Paul, which is much closer? Oh, right, that might jeopardize the re-election of another Conservative MP.

This type of abuse is another reason why Canada needs to move to a system of proportional representation. But the Conservatives will never do that, because Stephen Harper knows he could never again have 100 per cent control with only 40 per cent support.




Although I somewhat agree with Jim Maloway's argument that Lawrence Toet's request to realign the boundaries of Elmwood-Transcona is self-serving, I find it unfortunate that the lesson of an election defeat seems to have been lost on him.

One would think that losing a seat held by a political party for more than 24 years would be a humbling experience, yet Maloway fails to understand that it was not the quality of the opponent nor apathy of the voters that caused his woes.

It is highly doubtful, regardless of the boundaries, that the riding would be returned to the New Democrats as long as they are represented by someone who talks as though he still matters to the majority of the voters but has failed to listen to them and their democratic voice.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 21, 2012 A10

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