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Guidelines must be clear

In his Dec. 10 letter, Presumptuous exercise, Arthur Ellis takes exception to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights' presumption and hubris in proselytizing our democratic values to nations such as China, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates, which do not share our definition of, or regard for, the protection of human rights.

Ellis has overlooked the fact that both China and Saudi Arabia are presently members of, and the United Emirates has been elected to, the United Nations Human Rights Council. The council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system whose mandate is the responsibility for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, addressing situations of human rights violations, and making recommendations on them.

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Ostensibly, then, these countries also embrace the values symbolized by the CMHR. Indeed, so committed are these nations to rooting out human rights abuses that even Canada has been bashed for its violations and is now on the watch-list that includes Syria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

In China, Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates, and many of the Council nations, human rights are observed only in the breach. I applaud any endeavour that exposes the hypocrisy of these nations.




Geothermal savings big

In his Dec. 8 letter, Outdated propaganda, Joe Matula, claims that geothermal heating systems offer no savings over natural gas systems today or likely "ever" and goes on to claim, "An honest geothermal engineer will admit there are no savings compared to natural gas."

As the (honest) engineer-of-record for this project and many others across Canada, I can state unequivocally that Matula's statement is false. Today's low gas rates do reduce the energy cost savings of geothermal systems, but the fact is heat-pump equipment is 2.5 to six times more efficient than any device burning fossil fuels.

The comments also fail to consider energy cost savings for cooling (20 to 50 per cent) compared to a conventional cooling system, or the opportunities in large projects such as this to recover and use waste heat from cooling. Moreover, the incentives from the province were not needed to support the project, but did offset a portion of the additional investment since the tenants -- not the developer -- benefit from the lower energy costs.




In 1988, we installed a closed-loop geothermal system in our new 1,650-square-foot, full-basement home. It has a triple attached garage that includes a 12-by-22-sq.-ft. workshop. We run heat, light and air conditioning, as well as a water heater, auto plugs and water and sewage pumps. We have always had two freezers and two fridges and fairly extensive Christmas lighting.

Our hydro is on the rural rate, which is higher than the city rate.

Our hydro utility bills were $87.78 a month in 1989, $84.85 per month in 1990; $102.04 per month in 2000, and $112.08 per month in 2012. These figures include all taxes.

Our 21-year monthly average works out to $105.16 per month, including taxes.

When gas was installed on our street, the salesman wouldn't believe me until I showed him our hydro bills. I have yet to see proof of any other system being as environmentally friendly or cost efficient as geothermal.




Protecting children

In his Dec. 12 letter, Supercilious mindset, Edward Rice observes that power corrupts when he tells describes mindset of some social workers.

The solution to that problem is to remove the power. In short, privatize Child and Family Services and leave philanthropy to the wealthy, where it was before the government took over with nothing but good intentions.

Privatizing the police would solve a lot of the abuse that goes on when the police are abusing their power, too.

What I don't understand is why, in the face of massive failure on the government's part in social services, the only solution that will see the light of day will be more government of some sort.

Let me predict with absolute certainty that more government solution will beget an even more massive failure down the road, because coercive force is their only tool when social solutions require persuasion rather than force.




Regarding the Phoenix Sinclair hearings, I believe the Child Welfare Act states that one is guilty of child abuse by an act of omission or commission that brings harm to the child.

By virtue of the definition, wouldn't the agency and social workers who were directly or indirectly responsible for this file be guilty of child abuse?

Beside the child welfare and protection agencies needing an overhaul, and the training, protocol and supervision of social workers needing massive changes, shouldn't social workers be held to the same level of responsibility of care and protection as others?




Poison shampoo, perhaps

On Dec. 5, my husband and I travelled to Edmonton via Air Canada. We went through the security at the Winnipeg airport.

My husband carried his bag with him onto the plane. He had his shampoo, and the security made a big commotion about it and confiscated it. My husband was extremely mad because it was a $6 bottle of shampoo.

After the security put him through the body scan, we proceeded with our travel. When we got to the hotel, I went into my purse and could not believe that I had forgotten to take out my box cutter and three extra blades. All of these made it through the security X-ray.

So the great airport security system really works. My husband won't be making anyone blow bubbles on the plane with his shampoo but I could fatally harm someone with my box cutter. Makes me feel real safe in our airplanes.




A useful document

Further to your Dec. 12 editorial Credibility deficit balloons, citizens and legislators would be better able to see what is happening in Manitoba's civil service if we had an independent analysis analagous to that provided in the document The Fiscal Impact of Federal Personnel Expenses: Trends and Developments recently published by Canada's parliamentary budget officer.




Christmas courage

Kudos to Great-West Lifeco Inc. for continuing to display its nativity scene in the midst of the controversy about the use of the word Christmas and the trend to shy away from the "reason for the season."



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2012 A13

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