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Posted: 12/28/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0


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First Nations must vote

As a treaty person and advocate, I have a tough time understanding why many of our First Nations leaders and citizens protest changes made to the Indian Act. These protests would have been effective when the government announced its intent to make changes to the Indian Act. Bill C-45 is no longer just a bill but has morphed into the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012.

The Indian Act, in its many incarnations and revisions, established the formal wardship of First Nations people and provided title-in-trust of the reserves to the federal government. The federal government created it unilaterally without prior consultation of First Nations and only the federal government can make changes or repeal the act in its entirety.

The only way for First Nations peoples to free themselves from the Indian Act is to get out and vote. First Nations across Canada collectively have the potential to determine the final outcome in at least 80 federal ridings; this would conceivably place every sitting federal government in a minority position, which would give First Nations and their representatives real input in any proposed new legislation.

I applaud the Idle No More movement, but First Nations leaders and citizens must give up the fight for Indian Act rights. The focus of this movement must be on acting from and renewing the treaty relationship; this is where our true strength and sovereign powers lie.





Meeting power demands

In his Dec. 21 letter, Hydro demand growing, Manitoba Hydro CEO Scott Thomson writes that Manitoba's domestic electric load is growing at the rate of 1.6 per cent annually, or about 80 megawatts per year, and that's why we need to build Keeyask at a cost of $5.6 billion.

Its output of 695 megawatts will meet our domestic demand for just over eight years. Then we'll need to build another dam to meet our domestic requirements -- at what cost? Along with those new dams, we'll need to build the transmission lines at a cost of $3.28 billion to get the power to us.

Converting 10,700 electrically heated homes per year to geothermal heat-pump systems would meet that 80-megawatt demand. We have 127,000 electrically heated homes in the province. Simply converting them will meet our demand for almost 12 years and at a cost of less than $3 billion. And we don't need new transmission lines to get the power they don't use.

What makes the economics even more compelling is that the $3 billion does not even come out of Hydro's own pockets. It only needs to finance the installation of the geothermal heat pumps. You, as a Hydro customer, can borrow the money from Hydro and pay it back with the energy savings you get by installing a geothermal heat pump.

That doesn't even consider all the electrically heated apartment buildings in Winnipeg. And it ignores the studies that show that when smart meters are installed in homes and businesses, electrical demand drops by an average of 10-15 per cent.

As a partner in a geothermal engineering firm, I know it's not as exciting to build a ground heat exchanger here and another over there. There isn't a dam across a major river to point to and say, "Look at what we did." But it sure makes a lot more economic sense for the people of Manitoba.





Blast of societal awareness

Letter writer Dave Ferguson (Profiting off children, Dec. 18) must hate the idea of making a profits so strongly that he is blind to the fact there is no profit in the philanthropy that I argued could run Child and Family Services more effectively than the public system we now have does.

In fact, privatization would provide the blast of society-wide self-awareness that will solve the child-care issues that Ferguson argues is needed. There will not be a welfare reward for simply producing children in a world of private charity.

Rather than watching fiction on TV, I have been reading the works of great libertarian thinkers such as Ludwig von Mises and especially Murray Rothbard, who sets the framework for a stateless society in his masterpiece For a New Liberty.

Rather than move to Rwanda where there is a long history of socialism, I prefer to work on convincing Canadians who have a long history of classic liberalism to go one step further into a stateless society that I believe will be more just than the statism that now rules.





Thinking positively

It is a gross oversimplification to suggest, as Stuart Fay does in his Dec. 20 letter, that all children live no more than two blocks from school and that fewer dropoffs would cure obesity, dangerous driving and a sense of entitlement.

I'd encourage Fay to remember the positive feelings associated with the holidays and think about them before assuming such negative thoughts of his fellow Winnipeggers.





Subsidies play role

Tim Sale's Dec. 19 column, Wind energy is cheaper than new hydro dams, fails to mention subsidies. The price of fossil fuels and lengthy transportation of northern electricity is maintained at the present levels because taxpayers subsidize corporations and others whose business is to provide the public with inexpensive energy.

Were subsidies to be shifted from oil, gas and expensive electricity production to wind and solar energy, we would soon find these other sources of energy to be less expensive than at present.

Looking to the future, it's likely the Earth would also be better served with local renewable energy than with that provided by the sun eons ago. Fossil fuels may not be available to our children and grandchildren, so renewable energy appears more sensible and worthy of our subsidies than more remote sources. One hopes we will awaken to the joys of wind and solar energy before we have wounded the Earth into collapse.





The risks of sugar

It's that time of year when we make our resolutions. May I suggest that the citizens of Winnipeg make a concerted effort with parents, teachers and coaches leading the way, to educate our population on the health risks of diabetes and obesity from the consumption of oversized sugar drinks.

Let's be a winning city by coming in fifth in Canada in the soda-swallowing sweepstakes, thus saving our politicians from accepting another trophy.




Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 28, 2012 A12

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