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Unfair to cellular subscribers

Re: Chamber voices Verizon concern (Aug. 2). I find it somewhat offensive the cellular industry, led by Bell, Rogers and Telus, is pleading with users and Ottawa to stop the entry of a U.S. provider. For years, these three have been making excessive profits at our expense with unjustified pricing policies, and they now expect these same subscribers to help them.

This is an industry that has been so unfair to subscribers over the years that provincial government have had to step in to regulate things such as contract length, contract termination and related fees. This would not have been necessary had they been treating us fairly in the first place.

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As for possible job losses, we always hear this threat from people who are about to have their market share reduced by competition. But the loss of jobs will come from providers who reduce their staff to maintain their profit margins and not because of the competition that should have been allowed to enter the Canadian market years ago.




Humanitarian consequences

As on every Aug. 6, memories of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) remind civil society in Canadian cities such as Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto and others of the terrible humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and that we must not let it happen again.

Ever year, civil society must and does advance the great cause of nuclear disarmament, the end of nuclear proliferation, and total nuclear weapons elimination. Why do the leaders of countries not hear our voices?

Global expenditure on nuclear weapons is in the trillions of dollars. That money could be used for real human needs in social and economic development.

In a democracy should governments not represent the people? We, civil society, want an end to nuclear weapons and nuclear terror and devastation.




Attacking the less privileged

The government payments that Roslyn Kunin's freeloading 58 per cent receive include Old Age Security, guaranteed-income supplements, Canada Pension Plan benefits, Employment Insurance, grants, bursaries and social assistance, to name a few (Have we turned Canada into a nation of freeloaders? July 29).

It is obvious that Canada is not a homogenous society with every citizen being at the same stage of their working lives. Over the course of one's life, circumstances and situations vary and change.

Kunin herself admits for a decade she and her husband were trying to get educated and into careers while raising two kids. During this time, presumably, they were receiving some sort of government assistance or reporting low taxable incomes or both.

It is a shame Kunin, who is a member of the Order of Canada, would resort to partial truths and incomplete disclosures in her attempt to promote a tired and invalid argument. What is even more shameful is some of the most privileged among us openly attack the poor and underprivileged, the middle class, the young and the old, the vulnerable and anyone else they may see as standing in between themselves and one more dollar in their pocket.




Unaffordable for the poor

Your July 24 editorial Condo redux hits the nail on the head when it says city council's waffling on the condo subsidy is "hardly an endorsement of the idea that well-paid, full-time councillors are better equipped to focus on civic problems than the part-time representatives they replaced in 1992."

We need to remember what purpose municipal government is intended to serve: to provide easily accessible local representatives who are in tune with the community's needs.

The way in which council is set up, to most citizens an exclusive and alien entity, makes this just about impossible, despite the best efforts of some individual members.

And so we end up with councillors endorsing nonsensical policies such as subsidizing condo development in an already over-heated market.

A recent study by Canso Investment shows how the Canadian housing market is getting more and more unaffordable and unsustainable, mainly due to the availability of cheap money via low interest rates and the federal government's deregulation of mortgages.

Winnipeg, while more affordable than most cities, still has a median multiple (median housing price divided by median household income) of 3.6, which is considered relatively unaffordable. We also have a continuing decline in rental housing stock and increase in rental prices.

City council should be more attuned to the real needs of our community: the availability of affordable housing.




Lengthen turn signals

When sitting in frustration at the corner of Lagimodiere and Regent and waiting to turn, I repeatedly tell my wife that the green-arrow turn signal is way too short.

It is on long enough to let three vehicles pass. A fourth vehicle usually goes through on the yellow and a fifth vehicle often turns on a red light, thus creating a situation that is not only frustrating but also dangerous.

Steve Nieuwenburg's July 31 letter, Opening the bottleneck, points to empirical evidence a shorter turning signal light is a bottleneck that slows down traffic. I have ample anecdotal evidence of this hypotheses.

I live in the McAllen, Tex., area in the winter. The McAllen turning signal lights are more than twice as long as Winnipeg's. Drivers do sit for a longer time at a red light, but they know that when the turn light comes on, they are going to be able to get through even if they are six or seven cars back.

I find the McAllen traffic system less stressful and frustrating than Winnipeg's. McAllen's system is also much safer, because I see far fewer vehicles turning on yellow and red lights.




Bolstering his praise

Re: Quebec shows progressive side on assisted death (Aug. 2). It is no surprise a progressive thinker such as Dr. W. Gifford-Jones would applaud Quebec's forward thinking in regards to assisted death.

But Gifford-Jones could have bolstered his praise of Quebec's progressive nature by including the fact Quebec is the only province that has a vaccine injury or death compensation plan.




Parallels to alcohol

Thank you for Robert Sharpe's July 30 letter, Regulating marijuana, regarding the decriminalization of marijuana.

The only point Sharpe misses is a comparison of the results of current government attitudes to pot with those toward alcohol prohibition in North America in the 1920s and 1930s, which encouraged the growth and success of organized crime.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2013 A10

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