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Breathtaking disconnect

Re: Province probes killing of 12 elk (Jan. 4) As a responsible adult and as a First Nations person who has long enjoyed the outdoors, it's an understatement to say that I, like so many of my peers, am disgusted with the elk kill near Swan River.

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The act in and of itself demonstrates an extraordinary lack respect and conscience. For one of these so-called hunters to then post his exploits on Facebook, making some sort of grotesque and perverted allegorical connection to the Idle No More movement, demonstrates a breathtaking disconnect.

If First Nations people want a serious dialogue about their very legitimate concerns, setting better examples and modelling positive behaviours would be a good place to start.





Addressing prevention

The Dec. 20 editorial Sex trade ill-served by the law and the Dec. 21 response by Member of Parliament Joy Smith, Victimizing the young, provides readers with different viewpoints on whether or not current laws criminalizing the sex trade should be maintained. Both appear concerned with minimizing risk to sex-trade workers, but neither addresses prevention of the circumstances in which a young person would start an activity so threatening to her personal well-being.

Smith lists some women's advocacy groups that oppose legalizing prostitution, but at least one of the groups listed, the Native Women's Association of Canada, has had its health-related federal funding cut in Budget 2012. Indeed, in Budget 2012, cuts were made to about eight of the over two dozen women's agencies whose funding has been reduced or ended since 2006.

We can guess about what living conditions make girls vulnerable to entrapment into the sex trade; but we need to know more about, for example, why some girls drop out of school or skills training, or fail to access health information, or bear children before financial and family supports are established. Without any hope of adequate income, these girls become easy prey for drug-pushing pimps who exploit their fears of poverty and homelessness.





Governments produce wealth

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister has his shorts in a knot about the NDP government's "overspending." Sadly, by saying something so silly, Pallister and his crew demonstrate a fundamental misapprehension about the working of the economy under which conservatives (and Conservatives) labour.

In our economy, some of the production -- a majority -- comes from private enterprise. A portion is produced by non-profit organizations. The balance is produced by government. A government does not "spend," much less "overspend." What it does is produce wealth in the form of services consumed by the citizens of the province.

Inasmuch as it is the government sector that provides the province's infrastructure, health and education and part of its housing, one could argue that the government portion of the economy is, in fact, the most essential part of the economy. Rather than being a drain on the economy, when governments spend, they produce wealth.

Now, it is perfectly open to Pallister to propose that some of the provincial government's spending is not productive, or that economies could be found in program spending. And he probably would be right. I'm sure that his 19 caucus members could find legitimate cases of dubious programs, starting perhaps with the racially segregated child-welfare system.

However, Pallister should stop embarrassing himself by going on about "overspending." It's a meaningless oxymoron right up there with "tax burden."




Cuff made recommendation

In your editorial City staff forgets its place (Jan. 4), you state, incorrectly, that then-mayor Susan Thompson dismissed the board of commissioners and replaced it with a chief administrative officer in 1995.

What actually happened was that city council, under Thompson's leadership, adopted the Cuff Report, which recommended, among other things, that the board of commissioners administrative model be replaced by a chief administrative officer model. That decision was made by council in October 1997.





Aggression to blame

The two letters on Jan. 2 on cycling safety (Burdensome bicyclists) may obscure the fact that many of us had an enjoyable and safe cycle to work that day. By 7:20 a.m., there were six bikes and 18 cars in the underground parking lot I use.

There is enough blame to go around for both drivers and cyclists. I agree that cyclists need helmets, good manners and good lighting (the lighting system on my bike is worth more than my bike). But if we are going to talk about law changes, let's make changes that deal with the real issue.

New York studies cited by St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto concluded that drivers are to blame in 75-90 per cent of cyclist deaths and that the leading cause of death is drivers passing cyclists unsafely or aggressively. The fact that 97 per cent of drivers who killed cyclists in one New York study were male was interpreted as strongly suggesting that driver aggression is a significant factor in cyclist deaths.

Law changes that improved driver training and effectively discouraged driver aggression could save lives in Winnipeg.





Aboriginal role models

Re: Faces of the aboriginal community (Dec. 29). You should have added another page to this article. You then could have included the names of Roger Carriere and Edwin Jebb, as well as other worthy individuals.

Carriere, a longtime resident of Cranberry Portage, was known throughout Western Canada for his participation in King Trapper events.

He supported winter festivals and was a regular fixture at the Trappers Festival in The Pas. His record in King Trapper events will likely never be matched. He was also a member of the victorious Team Manitoba in the 1967 centennial canoe race. He was indeed a role model for aboriginal youth. He died in 2010.

Jebb is an educator and a politician from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in The Pas. He was one of the first aboriginal graduates of the University of Manitoba. He has served his community in several roles, among them as an elected councillor and as the director of the education authority. Jebb is currently the chancellor of the University College of the North.





Kives' tenure superior

Integrity coupled with an acute sense of social responsibility has exemplified Bartley Kives' seven-year tenure as your city hall reporter. Never one to be seduced by unrealistic calls for absolute standards of public conduct, he reported the facts simply with an ability to offer context, not personal comment.

His was a job done in a fashion superior to the effete academics and sanctimonious politicos who use situations to exploit their own views. Kives' incisive reporting was a delight, and his yet-to-be-published work is to be happily anticipated.




Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 A11

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