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Supercilious mindset

Those following the Phoenix Sinclair inquest should not be surprised at evidence of supervisors' notes being taken from offices and shredded, notes disappearing from files, and front-line workers' notes being altered without the workers' consent. One should not be surprised at these occurrences because they are, in my jaded view, the product of the Child and Family Services' mindset.

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My perspective is that of a lawyer who practises partly in the area of child protection and who has dealt frequently with CFS workers over the past 22 years. Many workers have a sincere desire to protect children. However, my observation is that the predominant corporate mindset is that of arbitrariness, we-know-best superciliousness, and the belief that their decisions should not be challenged.

It only follows that notes would be shredded or go missing, that a know-it-all supervisor would reverse a front-line worker's determination without telling her.

Don't get me wrong -- we need a child protection system. There are a lot of incompetent or abusive parents out there. Let me use an analogy -- we need a police force, but it's well known that sometimes police officers can abuse their power. So too with the child-welfare authorities.

I'd like to say that I have a solution to this problem, but I don't. However, the first step is to open the debate and recognize the problem.



Attacking success

Re: Pallister's mansion: the sequel (Dec. 11). There must be a lot of bitter, envious and resentful people in Manitoba. By attacking Brian Pallister, they are also attacking all the people who are financially successful.

So he can afford to live in an expensive house. Good for him. He earned it. Do the people who are attacking him honestly prefer an NDP party that excels at gross financial mismanagement and glorifies mediocrity?

I would rather be led by an individual who has the ability to keep an orderly financial house and whose philosophy is to encourage people to work hard and to make something of themselves. What a refreshing change.




As the writer Don Marquis wrote, "When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him, 'whose?' "

This is a particularly apt question in this case, given Brian Pallister's criticism mere days ago of the NDP's labour agreements for big-ticket public construction projects, which require the same wages and health benefits be accorded union and non-union employees. Pallister charges that the contractors will face extra costs as a result. Hence, less profit.

Talk about creating wealth on the backs of workers.



Regressive thinking

A question rarely asked, at least in print, is are new fighter planes needed this century? Your Dec. 8 story F-35 sticker shock renews Tory worry and the Dec. 10 editorial Warplane shopping both suggest we may need a new jet. Our record in wars in the recent past is not great. The Iraq war ended with many more civilian deaths in that country than among those sent to improve that nation.

Were the chemical weapons Syria is threatening to use made in that country and were the Kalashnikov rifles in Africa invented there? Arms sales, led by such countries as the U.S., Britain and Russia, would not appear to be the best exports that could be made. Surely a truly rational group of people would seek more positive ways to reduce conflicts than to sell weapons of destruction to people in conflict.

Some people regress to the old failed ways of dealing with civil and international rights. Surely peace keepers are better than killing in conflict zones. Similarly, hospitals and schools may be better than combat aircraft to better the conditions of humanity today. Spending time choosing which lethal aircraft to replace the old CF-18s may be distracting us from seeking new ways to diminish hostilities in the world.



Pushing for change

Re: Office of Manitoba's top veterinarian reviewing video of alleged pig farm abuse (Dec. 10). The recent footage of animal abuse taken at the Puratone Corporation farm in Arborg is both appalling and unacceptable. I'm happy to hear that Manitoba's Office of the Chief Veterinarian will be looking into the matter, and I hope, if the allegations are proven to be true, that those responsible be held accountable and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Although the use of metal gestation crates confining animals to a space barely larger than their size is currently permitted, we can all take steps as individuals to push for change. The next time you buy meat, make sure it's from a grocery store that doesn't support this practice. It's frankly barbaric and has no place in our society. As Saint Francis of Assisi said: "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."




Surprise, surprise. The public is horrified about how our animals are treated at slaughterhouses and pig farms. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and humane societies have been shouting out the message for years.

PETA members, in particular, have been labelled whackos, and worse. Canada and the U.S. are party to acts of unbelievable cruelty. No one seems to care, no one moves their backsides from their comfy homes to wonder where their meats and dairy products come from. The Almighty gave us a food chain to use wisely, but that food chain has become, in itself, a grossly indecent act of greed and intense cruelty.

Are we a civilized society? I think not, when we allow our food source to suffer so very intensely.




The problem is not one bad company, nor will one investigation solve it. Hundreds of studies have established that factory farming and large-scale processing lead inevitably to these abuses. Manitobans who don't want to support animal cruelty when they eat meat might wonder why our provincial government is using our tax dollars to support large-scale hog farming and to train young farmers in factory farming in our publicly funded university agriculture programs, when such practices have been shown to lead almost inevitably to animal abuse.

Most European countries have already banned such practices, yet their industries continue to thrive. It's time for Manitoba to get on board.


Brunswick, Maine

Worse than 'legendary'?

Re: Kelekis eatery cashes in chips (Dec. 1). "Iconic" is the most overused word by the media. If everything is iconic, the word really loses its meaning.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2012 A11

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