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The reality of concern

Re: The myth of heroic concern (Aug. 8). Edward Katz states that when Canadians are surveyed on national priorities, climate change and the environment are ranked near the bottom. Numerous polls prove otherwise.

Environment Canada commissioned the polling firm Ipsos Reid last summer to learn how Canadians view federal priorities, especially with respect to the environment. When asked to name the issue the Government of Canada should focus on most, respondents ranked the environment among the top three priorities ahead of other issues such jobs and unemployment, taxes, crime, infrastructure and the deficit. Of the environmental issues facing Canada today, climate change was ranked as the top challenge the federal government should address.

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Other polls show similar results. For example, in late 2012 the Environics Institute conducted a national public opinion survey about climate change. A clear majority of those surveyed believe that the problem is real, that government must take the lead role through new regulations and standards, and that citizens such as themselves must help pay for the necessary actions through taxes and higher prices for the goods and services they consume.

More recently, Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada commissioned Harris-Decima to poll Canadians to inform discussions at last month's Council of the Federation meeting of provincial premiers. A majority of persons surveyed (67 per cent) rated reducing Canada's carbon pollution to slow down climate change as a "top" or "high" priority. In contrast, only 31 per cent rated exporting more of Canada's oil and gas resources as a top or high priority.

Ken Klassen

Winnipeg

 

Give headdress a shake

Re: Fake headdresses decried, withdrawn (Aug. 10). Really, Kim Wheeler? You find faux feather headdresses offensive to aboriginals?

C'mon. I'm of Dutch descent and many stores across Canada, and throughout the world, sell wooden shoes, windmills, genuine Delft Blue pottery, and even imitation Delft Blue.

I view it as a celebration of my culture and I'm honoured by it. Similarly, aboriginal art and crafts are a wonderful compliment to your culture, not a mockery. Rather than being offended by them, you should be quite proud aboriginal artistry has finally made its way into mainstream fashion.

What I personally see as a mockery of aboriginal culture is more than just a few of your people passed out on city sidewalks with sniff rags stuffed in their mouths, openly drinking alcohol on the streets, and the once majestic Thunderbird House on Winnipeg's Main Street turned into a derelict encampment for substance abusers.

Many of your own people are living amid filth, and you're offended by faux headdresses?

Patricia Medgyes

Winnipeg

 

Doctor forgets his oath

Re: Solvent abuse cited in ER death (Aug. 9). Whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath? It is all very well to blame the poor soul who, because of accident of birth, ended up where he was.

But letting a fellow human being sit for 33 hours, several of which he was probably deceased, is unconscionable. I hope I never have to use this facility.

Virginia Petch

Winnipeg

 

Fantastic news Dr. Del Bigio recognized the importance of looking at more than the last few hours of Brian Sinclair's life. It is true addiction had a role to play in Sinclair's struggle and ultimate death.

Taking this broad and long-term view of Sinclair's life allows us to see the health system failed him long before he was forgotten in the emergency room. Del Bigio's statements about the changing views on addiction since 2009 highlight just how far behind we are in Manitoba in terms of adequately treating addiction. Vancouver's Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which includes the pillars of harm reduction and treatment, was launched in 2000.

More than a decade later in Winnipeg, we still have yet to put in place an adequate policy to support people with addictions in changing their lives. In a study with people who are homeless in Winnipeg called the Winnipeg Street Health Report, we found 17 per cent of people with an addiction had tried to get into treatment in the past year but had not been able to access it. Though we have probably the highest rates of solvent use in an urban area, we don't have any treatment programs for solvent use.

I hope this inquiry can help us to act on the multiple failures of our health and social service systems so people such as Brian Sinclair get the support they need years before ending up in Health Science Centre emergency ward.

Christina Maes Nino

Winnipeg

 

Show us the evidence

Donations won't sway contents, CMHR declares (Aug. 8). A museum employee claims the contents of the taxpayer-funded Canadian Museum for Human Rights were decided "based on rigorous research, advice of human rights experts, feedback from peer reviewers and broad consultation with the Canadian public" and that "there is no donation big enough to give donors a say in the contents."

Poppycock. Who are the museum's "human rights experts," who were the "peer reviewers," and why did the CMHR ignore its original survey, and others, that confirmed most Canadians do not support elevating one community's suffering above all others and want more aboriginal content?

As for the Holocaust, or Canada's first national internment operations for that matter, both were ranked much further down most "should-include" lists. So who decided what the CMHR's contents would be? Naming them would allow us to give credit where credit is due.

Borys Sydoruk

Ukrainian Canadian

Civil Liberties Association

Calgary

 

Ukraine faces turbulence

Re: Canada needs to nudge Ukraine toward EU (Aug. 9) Oksana Hepburn identifies another reason why Ukraine must move in the direction of securing a membership in the European Union. As a reader and being acquainted with the present situation, the article identifies issues that must be addressed in Ukraine, national sovereignty and human rights.

Prosecution of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, her subsequent conviction and continued imprisonment has caused the European Union to insist she must be released if Ukraine has any intentions of becoming a member of EU. From my understanding, European leaders have made it clear to Ukraine that unless President Yanukovych's regime changes its anti-democratic course and alters Tymoshenko's conviction, talks about joining the European Union will take longer.

Also, Ukraine's elite and oligarchs are anxious for closer relations with the European Union seeing that there is continuous erosion of democratic rights and undermining the interests of opposing parties in government, creating a long-suffering populace in Ukraine. Canada and many other countries are voicing their displeasure. In the near future, Ukraine may be headed for some very turbulent times if significant reforms are not addressed.

Peter J. Manastyrsky

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 13, 2013 A6

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