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Odour rises to top

You don't always have to see a skunk to know it's there. Almost from the beginning, it's been obvious that there were skunks involved in the Senate affair.

As the odour increased, some stripes became visible -- on Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Mac Harb. But still the odour grew stronger. Could there be more skunks? Oh my goodness, Nigel Wright smells bad. Look, he has stripes!

Oh, but he's such a handsome and honourable skunk. He did the right thing. But, wait. Senators Marjory LeBreton and David Tkatchuk aren't smelling so good, either. Why was Duffy's audit report watered down to make him less smelly? It didn't work, he's just getting more and more rank. Now he's getting aggressive, too, and so are Wallin and Brazeau.

I didn't think rabid skunks spray, but apparently they do. Now Wright is no longer a good skunk; he's the smelliest of the smelly skunks for spraying behind the prime minister's back. That's why the smell is getting stronger.

Oh my goodness. Is that foul odour also on the PM? Are those stripes? If those you appointed, hired, and surrounded yourself with are skunks, it's quite likely you are, too.

DENNIS SCHOONBAERT

Shoal Lake

ñº

Re: Paying legal bills OK: PM (Oct. 30). Three aspects of this article are disturbing. How is it possible to incur a $13,560 legal bill when Mike Duffy was simply repaying the Senate for his allegedly improper expense claims?

As a sustaining donor to the Conservative party, I am dismayed that donations were used for this purpose given the circumstances. And the position taken by Senators Hugh Segal and Don Plett is hard to understand, as all three have paid back various sums of money to the Senate. This action in itself amounts to an admission of guilt.

TERRY MEINDL

Teulon

ñº

The Senate consists of 105 seats, of which the Conservatives currently hold 60, the Liberals 33 and independents six (three of whom are Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau).

There are six vacant seats. Stephen Harper has appointed 58 senators, of whom 53 are still sitting. This dubious achievement ranks him seventh of Canada's 22 prime ministers in numbers appointed, ahead of Brian Mulroney. If he fills all of the vacancies and replaces those who retire before the next election, the total may reach 75, the number appointed by Jean Chrétien.

Therefore, it should be obvious that Harper's real intention, as it has been with everything else, is control, not reform.

JOHN H. CAMPBELL

Winnipeg

ñº

Stephen Harper compares his hasty "discipline" of senators to the jobs held by Canadians. What he's not saying is that he appointed the senators in question to do exactly what they did in a context of, at best, lax rules. It was only when media pressure caused public concern that "discipline" became necessary.

Regular Canadians have real rules at work, and are disciplined for real breaches under those rules, after a process has been followed that meets provincial rules and human-resource standards. What the prime minister is doing is precisely what he railed against previous PMs for doing: using the Senate as a personal and party playground to reward party stalwarts and raise funds on the public purse.

TIM THIESSEN

Winnipeg

Committed to low rates

Re: Fudging on annual utility bills (Oct. 30). As Manitoba's new minister responsible for consumer protection, I was disappointed to read Graham Lane's editorial criticizing the efforts of our government to keep utility costs low for Manitobans.

Anyone sitting at the kitchen table setting out the family budget knows that home heating, electricity and auto insurance rates make a big difference in making ends meet at the end of the month.

Experiences across Canada show how difficult this can be. In Ontario, the government is trying to deal with out-of-control private auto insurance costs. B.C. has seen reports of a potential 26 per cent hike in electricity rates. Saskatchewan is proposing a 16 per cent increase in these rates over the next three years.

Our government believes all Manitobans should benefit from our publicly owned utilities. We have guaranteed in law the lowest combined rates in the country -- last year we were $2,098 below the Canadian average. This has been confirmed by an independent report prepared by Deloitte.

We will continue to follow this rigorous process because we know it's worth it to families.

RON LEMIEUX

Minister of Tourism, Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection

Reviews already underway

Re: Big guns come out against Bipole plan (Oct. 29). Manitoba Hydro's plan to increase power-generating capacity is undergoing one of the most rigorous project reviews in Manitoba history. In August they filed a 5,000-page submission outlining a business case for the Public Utilities Board to review. The PUB has hired eight independent expert consulting firms to advise them as they undertake their 10-month review.

Unfortunately, those opposed to Hydro's plan to build and create jobs are trying to cancel these projects by demanding reviews that are already underway.

In 1973, when Ed Schreyer was finance minister he couldn't have been more correct when he said: "The only possible logic there could be for delaying (Hydro development) now is a very real probability that you would never build it at all. But if there was any prospect that you were going to build it after all, it would be the height of absurdity to delay."

Cancelling Manitoba Hydro's plan to build and create jobs would mean we have missed our opportunity to guarantee we have the lowest rates in the country today and in the future.

ROSANN WOWCHUK

Cowan

Blackface is unjustifiable

Blackface is racist. Don't try to justify it. Don't defend it. Don't claim ignorance. Don't tell me I shouldn't be offended by it.

Don't tell me people need to "chill out" or "get over it." Just don't. To all the people who have tried to minimize the actions of those who proudly chose or choose to perpetuate racism, thank you for reminding everyone how far we have yet to go in the battle.

UZOMA ASAGWARA

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2013 A12

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