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Blame the top layers

Your Jan. 8 story Audit burns hunger-striking chief is lacking in two important areas. It does not have any information on the reaction of the reserve residents to mismanagement of resources and it does not contain a list of the civil servants who will lose their jobs as a result of this mess.

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Who is to blame? The Department of Indian Affairs, of course. I have a B.A. and a small business that provides a decent income. I would hesitate to take on the role of chief, since it is a daunting task.

On a reserve, you can be on welfare today and chief tomorrow with $250,000 in salary. You do not need qualifications to run a large enterprise. The department has been aware of this for generations. As a taxpayer, I demand the firing of the top layer of the department in the region.

Chief Theresa Spence has been shown to have failed in the management of her reserve's finances. I think her resignation would be appreciated.

It is her lack and others' like her that has contributed to the growth of the Idle No More movement. I look forward to their take on this story.

Also, please stop calling what Spence is doing a hunger strike. In my grandmother's day, if there was no milk, babies were fed fish soup and survived.




I support Chief Theresa Spence and Cross Lake's Raymond Robinson in their hunger strikes, and Idle No More in their peaceful protests. They are acting in the interests of the vast majority of Canadians.

All across the world, resource corporations have ratcheted up their relentless search for oil and minerals, digging and drilling and blasting in ever-more fragile environments, supported by governments hungry for revenues. The Harper government is at the front of this stampede, clearing the way for drilling in the high Arctic, and for the piping of bitumen across mountains and waterways and through forests, with no heed to the dangers.

Recent legislative changes are intended to facilitate these reckless actions. Aboriginal people are on the front lines of efforts to oppose this legislation and to stop the inevitable damage that will otherwise follow. Their far-sighted opposition to this near-sighted scramble for short-term gains should be supported by all of us.




Before we ask Chief Theresa Spence to account for the use of $100 million over five years, even though she was not the chief during the full five years, let us ask Tony Clement to account for the entirety of the $46 million he squandered throughout his riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka, secretly paid to him under the G8 Legacy Fund in 2011.




In his Jan. 5 letter, Sean Stevens somehow comes to the conclusion that it is the Attawapiskat's budgeting system that is responsible for making their $17.6-million annual tax stipend insufficient to cover the needs of the reserve's 1,550 residents.

If Stevens can look at these kinds of figures and still feel that First Nations bands are under-funded, then he belongs in the same class as many of our left-wing academics and news providers who for the most part have their heads firmly stuck in the sand, or worse.

Most of us less-naive taxpayers believe the billions of dollars spent on aboriginal communities each year should be more than sufficient (most regular Canadian towns can only wish they had access to these type of funds) to maintain proper education, housing and sanitation. What our native population needs to do is to start making their chiefs and band leaders accountable for where all the money goes.




If Sean Stevens' figures in his Jan. 5 letter are correct and the teaching budget at Attawapiskat First Nation is $5.5 million for a community of 1,550 people, then when I grow up, I either want to be an NHL hockey player or a teacher at Attawapiskat.



Mirroring our thoughts

The Jan. 7 column by Val Werier, We could try to fill bus driver's big shoes, may not have been front page in terms of news, but it was certainly front-page material in my estimation.

It perfectly mirrors my thoughts and likely those of many other readers. If more people thought this way, and acted on those thoughts articulated by Werier, the world would certainly be a better place. Let's all try.



Mistrusting government

There is a phrase used by Conservatives, and conservatives, to mock many governments, usually of a centre- and left-wing nature. "Would you trust this government to run a business?" they asked.

Your Jan. 7 story City dumps high penalties on Emterra raises a new question: Would you trust this business to run a government?

Why did the pro-business Winnipeg city council make such a mistake in choosing Emterra to provide this service? What does this say about their ability to manage this city like a business?




I did a little study on my morning walk with the dog. I inspected all the garbage and recycle bins that were out for pickup in a two-block stretch in our area. Of all the bins that were out, only one recycle bin was more than half full.

Why expect Emterra to stop and dump your quarter-full bin? If it is less than half full, don't put it out. I have gone as long as three weeks without putting out our garbage bin. It would be interesting to see how many of the 14,216 missed pickups really needed to be picked up at all.



Don't forget seasoning

Re: City garment maker target of fur protest (Jan. 3). Besides the usual fur-industry propaganda, Manitoba Trappers Association president Ron Spence informs us that "we eat the meat."

Really? Perhaps he'd like to provide us with recipes for squirrelghetti and weasels. Or how about coyote stew? Just make sure you add plenty of potatoes. Those coyotes can get mighty skinny after being left to suffer in traps for days on end.



Self-serving puffery

Re: Truly livable condo (Dec. 29). Todd Lewys reminds me of journalism's deprecating adage: never let the facts interfere with a good story (and his isn't even that).

He writes that almost all single-family homes are superior to condos. This self-serving puffery has only one redeeming virtue: surely nobody will be foolish enough to plagiarize it.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 A7

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