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The same intolerance

Rocky Kravetsky argues in his Sept. 4 column, Quebec's symbol of shame, that the effect of laØcit© is to discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion and by doing so to reduce the quality of workers in the civil service. Where is the evidence?

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The case Kravetsky makes is oversimplified. Freedoms of association, speech, or religion are never totally unfettered. Citizens cannot do or say anything they like.

There are also often practical difficulties in implementing and enforcing rules. However, with effort and co-operation, these difficulties may be overcome. Accommodations can be made by both parties (governmental or religious), and are in France, where laØcit© has been in force for many years.

Perhaps most telling is where Kravetsky describes the rules of laØcit© as "not just shameful, pandering to the worst human instincts, they are based on ignorance and just plain stupid."

In these remarks he appears to be exhibiting the very same intolerance to which he objects.

How would anyone feel having their beliefs or rules described in this manner? If there are any gains in freedom in his writing, they are more than overcome by losses in equality and particularly in brotherhood, with citizens of Quebec and of France.

STEPHEN HOLBORN

Winnipeg

Just good politics

Re: Amalgamation flexibility (Sept. 4). I would suggest the government's new-found flexibility on Bill 33 is recognition it cannot arbitrarily disenfranchise a large number of taxpaying residents and still be perceived as a fair and competent government by the broader voter base. In other words, it is simply good politics.

I am one of the 2,300 seasonal residents at Victoria Beach, who along with the 374 people considered permanent residents and our forefathers, have managed it since it was incorporated in 1919 without incident. Victoria Beach currently represents a tax base that is 28th highest out of 115 municipalities in Manitoba.

All of us pay our taxes. Common sense would suggest we should have equal status when it comes to determining how the municipality will be governed in the future.

JAMES HORNE

Victoria Beach

Saying it all

The Sept. 4 letter by Helen Wakeford says it all. It is the most refreshing letter yet on the disagreement between Eric Robinson and Barbara Judt. It is refreshing to see someone using common sense.

Judt needs to put aside her hurt feelings and get on with the work of supporting and caring for the women in her care and let Eric Robinson get on with his job.

ALICE FLECK

Winnipeg

ñº

Eric Robinson has given me, as a white social worker, and others like me, the opportunity to examine my benevolent paternalism and my wilful ignorance, which are characteristics of settler colonialism in Canada.

We have an opportunity to decide whether we will continue to act in these ways, being incensed and defensive when we are called on it; or whether we will resist settler colonialism and work in dialogue and solidarity with indigenous peoples to dismantle the structures that continue to reproduce it. It will be a great day when the shoe no longer fits.

LIZ CARLSON

Winnipeg

ñº

Candice Bodnaruk (Letters, Sept. 4) is incorrect. I am white (I hate that term). The so-called privilege of being white did not stop me from being abused as a child.

I have been assaulted (in Toronto) on many occasions, by people of other races, because I'm white.

I have also been stopped by the police in Toronto several times (once at gunpoint) simply because I appeared similar to another white suspect.

I was once told in a job interview (I will not name the organization) they wouldn't hire me because they were told they can only hire "minority females."

Just writing this upsets me.

We are all human. Until we can treat each other equally, we will never be able to move forward together.

WAYNE CRAIG

Winnipeg

ñº

While the intellectuals and political apologists among us debate the meaning of the term racism, the fact remains that a senior member of Her Majesty's government made a value judgment based on a racial stereotype and committed it in writing.

Eric Robinson does not deny he used the phrase "do-good white people," or that he based his opinions on the colour of their skin.

It is irrelevant that he has unfortunate events in his past. We all have, but we expect our elected representatives to be responsible to all Manitoba citizens regardless. We expect a higher standard from our deputy premier.

DAVID SHEFFORD

Winnipeg

ñº

This whole debate has left me wondering if we as a society have truly comprehended the insidious nature of racism. Name-calling is the least of the worries for those who have lived under European colonization. A racist by definition is a person with prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. Eric Robinson does not fit the bill by any stretch of the imagination.

Racism by its very essence demonizes, dehumanizes, humiliates and subjugates. How can an off-the-cuff remark such as "do-good white people" accomplish the above?

When in this country we have a history of colonialism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Japanese internment and Islamophobia, to name a few, how can we in all seriousness allocate so much press, institutional resources and polemical debate to one remark?

SHAHINA SIDDIQUI

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2013 A14

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