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Give me everything, please

I am a Manitoba taxpayer. I want shorter wait times at the emergency rooms, for MRIs and for hip and knee replacements. I want more and better schools, more money for our crumbling Winnipeg infrastructure, more money for police and crime prevention, better flood protection and full compensation for all damages due to any natural disasters.

I also want better social services and more programs for the mentally ill, underprivileged and First Nations people. I want cheaper electricity and automobile insurance, increased grants to all post-secondary institutions and lower tuitions, more recreational facilities and better-serviced provincial parks, and better environmental protection. Also, I want a more efficient government.

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But I don't want cuts in the services I use or to those located in my area of the province. However, they had better not expect me to pay higher taxes. As is often said, you get what you pay for.




Exchange needs parking

In response to Support Exchange residents, not their cars (Aug. 4), I must say that Robert Galston is missing a key angle to his argument about the parking situation in the Exchange, namely that of the arts patron.

While I do support more green alternatives to getting downtown like carpooling, taking transit or biking to work where they make sense for the individual, the scarcity of parking for people who frequent the opera, symphony, theatre or the ballet has reached a critical point where demand far exceeds supply. In fact there are tens of thousands of people who at some point from September to May are in this quadrant of the city.

The East Exchange is in dire need of a safe parking alternative for all arts patrons, especially the elderly, who are long-term supporters of the arts that do not feel comfortable taking transit late at night or who require minimal walking distance to the venue. With the closing of the Civic Parkade, now is the time to carefully consider the options. Risk alienating and losing arts lovers who help drive the economic engine of this city and have nowhere to park or perhaps consider the option to pave paradise to put up a parking lot.

Lisa Abram



Art? Who's to say?

Re: The definition of art (Letters, Aug. 1). Peter Lacey suggests there is an objective methodology of what is considered "art" or not. Yes, I believe that a crucifix in a jar of urine can be considered art as it conveys a message, perhaps a certain feeling or thought going through the artist's mind at that time.

However, neither the viewer nor the artist have to be aware of their talents when viewing art as it does very little or anything to validate the absolute value of art. It is mostly just subjective values that the viewer holds to equate how good of an "art" masterpiece it was.




Ah, yes, the Peter Laceys of our world. During my lifetime I have run into countless persons who wished to have a perfect, unfuzzy definition of art. And I have always wondered who was that magical person that could gift us with a perfect definition.

Three of the pieces Lacey is referring are either a photograph entitled Piss Christ by Andres Serrano (1987); Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman (purchased by our National Gallery of Art in 1989), or Sharon Alward's piece entitled Totentanz (1991).

Hollywood Hen Pit was performed by Doug Melnyk and Ian Mazden at this year's Fringe Festival and received a multitude of attention.

Viewers and reviewers have been asking questions and this, after all, is one of the most important things art is supposed to do. I do hope Lacey experienced some or all of these pieces. Otherwise it would be very like burning a book without having read it. History has already judged Barnett Newman. Thankfully, the quartet is still with us and, hopefully, will continue to work as diligently and intensely as it has been.

Personally, I prefer to think of everything as art even if not everything rises to my esthetic and intellectual sensibilities. I think this type of laissez-faire attitude helps normalize bowel activity.

Olya Marko



Transfers have increased

Clark Brownlee's July 27 letter, Shedding light on tax, does nothing of the kind. Core federal transfers to Manitoba have not shrunk as he contends.

For the period 2009-10 to 2013-14, which Brownlee cites, health transfers to Manitoba have increased from $903 million to $1.12 billion or by $218 million (24 per cent). Social transfers to Manitoba have increased from $392 million to $443 million or by $53 million (13.5 per cent).

Over the same period, equalization payments have been reduced from $2.06 billion to $1.79 billion or by $271 million (13 per cent). However, reductions were offset by Total Transfer Protection payments of $661 million. The net losses Brownlee complains of do not exist.

There is no pool of funds created for health and social transfers. Funding is provided by the federal government from general revenues and that includes transfers to Alberta as well as every other province.

The core federal transfers are under long-term commitment to allow provinces to budget and plan; the arbitrary reductions of which Brownlee complains are a fiction.

Equalization is a separate fund administered by and partially funded by the federal government. Provinces participate and receive funding through an agreed formula renegotiated every five years. The next negotiation and adjustment (which the provinces will participate in) will be in 2014.

Manitoba is one of six provinces benefiting from the equalization program supported by Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C. and the federal government.

Equalization alone accounts for 15 per cent of the current Manitoba budget. Health and social transfers, together with equalization, accounts for 28 per cent of our current budget. Even so, our government is projecting a $505-million deficit. With nearly $1.8 billion in equalization rolling in each year to help provide Manitobans with basic services, which includes infrastructure, why are we complaining of infrastructure deficits? The Manitoba government is squandering money it does not have instead of focusing on its core responsibilities and ensuring its operation is efficient and effective.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2013 A8

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