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Straining credulity

It strains credulity to believe Coun. Dan Vandal's call to hire a private law firm was meant solely to "rebuild public confidence in city hall" (Fire-hall probe sought, Oct. 24).

Lawyers are hired to protect the interests of their clients. The client in this case is the City of Winnipeg's besieged administration.

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In the wake of Ernst & Young's blistering report, city hall now has the effrontery to use the public purse to shield itself from possible legal action that might result from evidence suggesting it may have been complicit or negligent in awarding unfair advantage in the land acquisition and fire-hall construction projects.

It is the police who should be investigating this fiasco, not a law firm whose job it is to disprove any such allegations.




It has become apparent the red tape Sam Katz rails against is the very processes ensuring prudence and probity in the disbursement of public funds. It is also apparent Katz does not understand this.

The expedient business practices Mr. Katz espouses have no place in the management of public assets and public funds. The fact he does not recognize this speaks to his lack of judgment.

It is very apparent he needs to step down.




Preventing rape

I couldn't agree more with Jen Zoratti's Oct. 23 column, Rapists, not drinking, cause rape. The perverse attitude that a woman's actions or behaviour somehow constitute legitimacy for rape is disgusting.

Guess what, guys: Rape is rape. There is no excuse. And it's up to us to prevent it. It's not a shameful thing to know what "no" means.

And "consent" doesn't mean you somehow lose your virility. The reality is we as men need to understand women do not ask to be raped.

And we, as a society, need to support victims of sexual violence, not blame them.




Jen Zoratti says, "The best prevention is to tell men to stop raping." Very true, but the best prevention is not necessarily the most effective.

The best theft prevention is to tell thieves to stop stealing; the best murder prevention is to tell murderers to stop murdering. Both have been tried (Commandments 5 and 7 come to mind), but neither has proven to be effective.

I read Emily Yoffe's Slate article. In it she says women should be warned about the dangers of binge drinking, not about drinking by itself. She said women should know that if they become incapacitated due to binge drinking, it is possible someone will take advantage of them. Until all men have demonstrated that after being told not to rape they will in fact stop raping, her advice seems to be sound.

The position of her critics appears to be women should not be warned of the risk of binge drinking with people they don't really know and people who do give this warning, such as Yoffe, deserve to be castigated.

What her critics offer is reassurance to a binge-drinking rape victim that it wasn't her fault and at some time in the future men will stop raping because they have been told it is wrong, but for now, get on with the rest of your ruined life.

What Yoffe offers is practical advice designed to reduce the risk of getting raped tomorrow. As the father of two women, I stand with her.




Jen Zoratti, of course, makes excellent points. However, until the culture and parents change in the direction she recommends, staying sober represents good self-care.

This goes for males as well as females, but since females get drunk on less alcohol, and since females are more often victims, how can we not think girls and women would be well advised to drink less and stay sober?




Challenging beliefs

In his Oct. 18 column, Pave path to indigenous education, Lloyd Axworthy correctly notes the tremendous importance of advancing post-secondary education for indigenous Canadians. In doing so, however, it is critical that everyone involved chooses the correct path.

Unfortunately, some academics and indigenous people interpret offering "culturally relevant and respectful programming" as a call to indigenize the academy, to teach indigenous ways of knowing and essentially to promote in universities a traditional indigenous world view.

But this approach conflicts fundamentally with the proper purpose of universities.

As a professor, my job is not to reinforce student beliefs but rather to challenge those beliefs and teach students ways (e.g., reason, science, critical thinking) to discriminate between valid and invalid beliefs.

Questioning beliefs is important because all societies contain false knowledge. We used to bleed people when they were ill, often hastening their deaths.

The use of cradle-boards and swaddling in infancy is connected to hip dysplasia in later life. Belief that some people come from the head of God and others from the feet promotes discrimination. Thinking that humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth together impedes learning and doing science. The list is endless.

Let us hope indigenous people and their academic supporters have the courage to choose the academic route and put their beliefs on trial, as so many societies have done historically, much to the advantage of their people.


University of Winnipeg


Killing dairy taxes

Bravo to Mark Milke for his Oct. 22 column, Target tariffs that inflate dairy prices. I applaud his suggestion that the best way to help the Canadian consumer is to start killing triple-digit taxes on imported dairy products.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 A12

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