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Incongruent with philosophy

I might just have to vote Conservative in the next election. As a lifelong NDP supporter, I am very disappointed with the NDP's record on reducing poverty. I would have never guessed the party rallying to support increasing rental rates for assistance participants would be the Conservatives (Pallister's housing plan solid, Editorials, March 19).

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The NDP is supposed to be the socially conscious party, but its record in this matter is not congruent with that philosophy. Children are suffering because families cannot afford the current cost of housing. The rental amounts paid by Employment and Income Assistance are abysmal and do not even come close to recognizing the true cost of housing.

Families on assistance are not provided bus passes for children to attend school and a phone is not considered a basic need. Children are the future, and our NDP village is doing a lousy job of raising them to be stable, productive citizens.

Now if the Conservatives would also pledge to get the school taxes off my property tax bill and support education through general revenue like health care, I would have to trade my NDP orange for blue.

SONIA BABYAK

Winnipeg

ñü

It was great to see support continue to grow for Make Poverty History Manitoba's call for an increase to the Employment and Income Assistance rental allowance rates to 75 per cent of median market rent. What people receive now is simply not enough and places them in unsafe, inadequate housing -- if they can find any at all.

It is about choices. Will we take care of each other by making sure that our neighbours with the least at least have enough, or will we leave people to fend for themselves and risk poor health and homelessness?

Last year's provincial budget introduced a personal income tax cut that cost $19.3 million, while an increase to the rental allowance at the rates called for would cost about $18 million. The former does not benefit the poorest at all, since they are without employment, while even the very wealthy benefit from that policy decision.

The latter would focus that same amount of resources on those who need it the most. Cumulative tax cuts since 1999 cost the province $1.2 billion. Clearly, an increase in the rental allowance is possible and affordable if it is prioritized.

BRENDAN REIMER

Winnipeg

Shame, anger, tears

Re: We Were Children docudrama lays bare residential school horrors (March 19). I watched this heart-wrenching docudrama on APTN, and it left me with shame, anger and tears. I am so very sorry that our First Nations people had to endure this, and no amount of money or apologies will heal those awful scars and horrendous memories.

But I want all to know it was not the true living God of the Bible that they were made to worship. The true God would not have done this. He does not force people to worship Him. He is a loving God and wants all to come to Him on their own.

You will find Him if you search with your whole heart and soul. May God have mercy on those who committed such atrocities towards these children and their families.

JUDY TYLER

Winnipeg

Grin and shovel it

For the last two winters, the Winnipeg Free Press has elected to print a number of letters complaining about the quality of street-clearing in the city. Specifically, many writers lament the windrows left on their driveways and back lanes.

While they are frustrating and difficult to deal with, I don't think we ought to expect the city to clear them for us. More work leads to more costs, and I don't think the citizens of Winnipeg want their property taxes increased to pay for this service.

Instead, I take inspiration from the 89-year-old woman who attended my office on a recent afternoon to conduct a bit of business. After the requisite weather discussion, she said matter-of-factly -- not bragging, not complaining -- that she spent an hour this morning clearing her driveway, front walk, and "that massive lump of snow that the street graders leave behind."

Stop moaning, Winnipeg. Myrtle doesn't.

DAVID ROSS

Winnipeg

A diverse community

Dan Lett's March 18 column, Anti-bullying bill a fight fraught with danger, mentions that Jewish, Sikh and Muslim leaders wrote to Education Minister Nancy Allan opposing Bill 18.

But Muslims are a diverse group and their views on this bill are equally diverse, as is their leadership. As a Muslim community, we have not formed an opinion that is representative of all Muslim organizations in Winnipeg.

However, there is one point on which we all agree. This is that our schools must be hate-free zones for all students. There may be many reasons why students are bullied by other students and all these reasons must be part of the anti-bullying campaign. Education and supports for bullies and the bullied are equally important.

As for the provision for gay-straight alliance clubs, I would suggest that the minister sit down with religious-school administrations and parent bodies and work this out in the best interest of all our children. Let us show our children that we can have a civil discourse without bullying each other.

SHAHINA SIDDIQUI

Winnipeg

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The most egregious parts of Greg Stetski's March 15 letter are his conclusions that "anti-bullying" is "a new morality" and "morality is an integral part of religion." Excuse me?

In my 50 years on this planet, I've learned that the preaching of morality is an integral part of religion. Unfortunately, a large number of religious denominations believe that their morality, and only theirs, is paramount and must be enforced.

Anti-bullying knows no religious or moral bounds. That is why it comes into conflict with religious zealots. Anti-bullying legislation is far from the "new religion" claimed by Stetski. In fact, it's the opposite. It is inclusive, non-judgmental, caring and morally correct.

DAVE FERGUSON

Winnipeg

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Re: After the hurt (March 16). In spite of what the Bible says, I have never met a gay person who I considered to be an abomination or evil.

TERRY PARSONAGE

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2013 A14

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