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Hills slope two ways

Your April 16 editorial UMSU's slope is slippery counsels the University of Manitoba Student Union to be careful that its action banning Israel Apartheid Week does not turn into a slippery slope for censorship.

However, hills have slopes on either side. The other side of this particular hill is the slope of untrammelled free speech leading to the pit of unbridled discrimination, harassment, hatred and violence.

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Free rein to the likes of Israel Apartheid Week can lead to a poisoned atmosphere silencing and driving out Jewish students and faculty and tearing the university community apart. The student union has to be commended for putting grit to stop sliding on this other slippery slope.


B'nai Brith Canada



Your editorial uses a very tired and meaningless argument favoured by pro-Israel supporters in their attacks against its detractors. That being so, why focus on Israel when there are so many worse countries out there?

Why a person chooses one cause over another is based on a variety of reasons, and some level of personal connection. Sure, there are worse governments out there, but to not focus on Israel is like telling a person not to raise money for liver cancer because more people die from lung cancer and we should fix that problem first.

As for those few Jewish students who felt "uncomfortable" about Israeli Apartheid Week, would you support shutting down the Jewish students association if a few German students felt uncomfortable about Holocaust Awareness Week? Didn't think so.




A university can hardly guarantee an atmosphere for the open contention of ideas when its student union arbitrarily decides to bar legitimate student groups from its facilities because it doesn't like its views.

The Israel Apartheid Week events I have gone to have been well-attended and conducted in a respectful manner for all in attendance irrespective of their points of view. The fact that some students who consider themselves Zionists might not like these matters discussed is irrelevant as long as no one is threatened or intimidated.




Fabricating dirt

Re: Attack-ad retaliation coming (April 16). Political attack ads reveal that the party employing them has little or nothing positive to say about itself and thus are compelled to use or fabricate dirt on other parties.

The bullying tactics of some parties are particularly reprehensible, and one wonders what could motivate a person to vote for a party that stifles individual opinions within its ranks while trying to lure voters with odious campaigns.




Attack ads aside, Justin Trudeau needs to give Canadians some idea of his invisible policy. Voters need details about how the Liberal leader plans to implement his ideas about poverty reduction and how he plans to "save the middle class."

If we don't get something soon, and I don't mean the white noise his party is currently making, maybe, just maybe the Tory attack ads are right on the money.




If my children, when I was raising them, had exhibited any of the bullying, critical behaviour the federal Conservatives are now engaging in following Justin Trudeau's win as leader of the Liberal party, they would have been sent for a time out and told in no uncertain terms, "That is not acceptable behaviour."

Does our federal government have nothing better to do with their time than create attack ads against the opposition? Are there not enough issues for the government to address and solve to make life better for Canadians in this great country of ours than to adopt these kind of tactics.

Communities right across Canada are, particularly now, condemning bullying because of the way this type of behaviour has affected some lives.




Environmentalists speak for all

For Pat Wickett to call environmentalists a "single-interest group" shows his complete disregard for any opinion other than his own (Mars Hill dirt bikers told to hit the road, April 13).

Environmentalists speak for and protect all facets of the environment and against all predators of the environment. He speaks for dirt riders. Not motorcyclists, not ATVers, not cyclists. Just individuals who ride on dirt.

As far as I can tell from this story, our system finally worked the way it is supposed to, inasmuch as a single-interest group, the Manitoba Dirt Riders Association, has not been able to override the wants of the majority. It is one small victory for democracy.




Eating it up

Re: Battle plan (April 15). I want to acknowledge the good and interesting articles that Shamona Harnett has been writing about food and how we can eat in healthier ways in the city.

The importance of eating well has been seriously compromised in our culture for a number of reasons, but as humans, eating is one of the most important things we do.

As with so many things, it has gotten more complicated. We are now learning that eating is not only nutritional but is fundamentally social, political, economic and (for many) spiritual.

Encouraging intentionality in this area is great.

Here at Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba, we are having events that bring farmers and "eaters" together to talk about the divides between us and the challenges we face. They have been rich and interesting conversations.




The majority of people in our society employ faulty shopping strategies. Shamona Harnett's informative feature lists a number of ways to overcome them.

However, I think more can be done. There need to be wider campaigns and awareness programs conducted by organizations in schools, workplaces and public spaces. All these initiatives are necessary to rectify this seemingly minor problem in order to lessen its impact on the future generations.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2013 A10

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