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Raising suspicions

An audit, assumed to be performed by a disinterested or neutral person, should clarify matters. But your report on the Osborne House audit (Problems rife at shelter: audit, Oct. 25) raises more suspicion than it allays.

Rather than being disinterested or neutral, the auditor displays an obvious bias against Osborne House. One dead giveaway among others is the reference to volunteers "wandering through downtown office buildings asking for donations."

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Many charities rely on volunteers to solicit donations. The choice of the verb "wandering" is designed to raise a negative disposition in the reader. It is a propaganda technique that has no place in an audit. The credibility of the audit is thereby in doubt.

Furthermore, given the power of the government, it is understandable why board members would decline to escalate the fight with the government. They cannot win.

The only result would be to increase government enmity. The implication that their silence smacks of ignorance or wrong-doing is also a display of bias.




Infantilizing citizens

Anne McTavish makes many great points in her Oct. 28 column Robbing basic right: life itself. However, if Canadians are going to have a debate about assisted suicide, the ethics and politics of suicide itself need an airing.

Historically, suicide has been considered a moral matter rather than a medical matter. In plain English, medicalizing suicide infantilizes citizens by giving psychiatrists the political power to have troubled persons arrested, jailed and forcibly drugged. In medical speak that is called "treatment in a hospital."

In a civilized country, no hospitals would have locks on the door and no treatment would ever be forced by doctors.

Lost in the assisted-suicide argument is the fact that the political mistake of medicalizing drugs in the first place is why citizens now need to ask their masters for permission to die. Such is the bane of passing consumption laws.

Repealing drug prohibition would end the assisted suicide debate and make the politicians our servants instead of masters over our consumption and our lives.




Deciding that someone can't end their life of their own volition is the height of hubris and a clear violation of that person's basic rights. This is yet another example of someone trying to exert her moral certitude over a group with whose opinion she does not agree.

I, on the other hand, do not want to tell anyone else what they should or shouldn't do. Any law covering end-of-life decisions should be enabling to the person affected, not enabling to anyone else.




Veiled reinforcement

Jim Clark's Oct. 25 letter, Challenging beliefs, offers a misguided perspective on the validity of indigenous educational strategies, with an underlying supposition he fails to address. His mandate is a veiled reinforcement of traditional western academic thought masquerading as unimpeachable truth.

Canada has a shameful history of attempting to stamp out alternative forms of thought and belief within indigenous communities, and individuals of all nations continue to experience the damaging effects of this. Progress will not be found by eliminating ways of knowing that we don't agree with: We've been down that path and we must not do so again.

Perhaps Clark should look inward and understand that learning is a communal process. His role as an instructor is to learn from those around him as well as teach, and it appears he has forgotten that.

Cultural diversity deserves more than lip-service among the academy. The university has done much to provide opportunities to those damaged in our attempt to assimilate indigenous people. The University of Winnipeg Students' Association offers its congratulations and support.





An alarming trend

Although your Oct. 25 article Arsonist set blaze after CFS staff ends monitoring does not state the exact length of time support workers were not being remunerated, it speaks to an alarming trend in the treatment and supervision of young, intellectually challenged offenders in the community.

It is alarming because an absence of remuneration for these support workers often also translates into a minimization of the offender's risk, a lack of direct supervision and training for these individuals whose primary job is to manage an impulsive, high-risk young arsonist in the community. With the young arsonist struggling with fetal alcohol syndrome, it is not merely enough to watch him 24 hours a day to ensure he doesn't start a fire.

The supervision must be coupled with a treatment plan and team to execute it. It requires specific training and the critical understanding of the way the young person's mind works when affected by FASD. Overall, pay competitively, support and train effectively those workers whose job is ensuring public safety while helping a young person who has been tragically affected by the excessive consumption of alcohol during his mother's pregnancy.


Turning Leaf Community Support Services



Looking for solutions

Re: Father gets 9 months in jail for child abandonment (Oct. 22): Is jail time the solution for parents who act negligently toward their children? Many are in agreement with this. However, increasingly social services are taking away responsibility from the parent by intervening and assuming care.

Perhaps more appropriate solutions would be mandatory training, counselling, or in-home supports through a conditional sentence of sorts. In order to accurately evaluate progress, you would require a co-ordination of social services.

The lack of networking between all social services is a problem that needs to be addressed. Without opportunity to change, you can almost guarantee this cycle of poor parenting will continue.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2013 A10

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