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Learning from history

Tjalle Vandergraaf (Museum for scab-picking, Letters, Nov. 12) has unfortunately failed to grasp why it is crucial for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to present the genocides she lists. In 1939, as Adolf Hitler announced his intention to "send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language," he mockingly asked, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

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In 1945, after some six million Jews and five million others were murdered, the world said, "Never again." Yet, in 1994, in Rwanda, in the space of 100 days, nearly one million men, women and children were slaughtered. Need I mention the killing fields of Cambodia or the present-day horror in Syria?

It is not a question of forgiving, as Vandergraaf suggests, but of learning something from history. Last week, in Quebec, the first steps were taken toward the dismantling of human rights in that province. We need institutions such as the CMHR to remind us how easily and how quickly human rights can vanish and what the tragic consequences are when human rights are denied.


Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada


Statements not equivalent

How amusing that Cal Paul (Get ready for onslaught, Letters, Nov. 14) is still fuming because I called this statement of his patently false: "the huge amount of this money that is wasted by mismanagement by aboriginal chiefs and councils."

He believes he's been vindicated by the Nov. 9 article, Band-Aid solution, that said "nearly 40 per cent of all Manitoba First Nations have lost control of their finances due to mismanagement."

These two statements aren't equivalent. The article pointed out various reasons why outside managers are appointed such as "bad-quality reporting to Ottawa," but there was no quantifiable evidence of wasted or misspent money at the band level.

Successive auditors general have blamed Ottawa for poor outcomes on reserves, and one of the reasons is the mountain of reports each band is required to submit.

Administrative, financial and political problems certainly aren't confined to reserves. We need only look to our own municipal, provincial and federal governments for evidence of that.



A team for the ages

Inspired by letter writer Joseph Pollock's team selection (But could Jets afford them?, Nov. 12), here's a suggestion for an all-star House of Commons hockey lineup:

On the blue line, the NDP's Thomas "Bulldog" Mulcair and Pat "Loose Cannon" Martin, two of the most offensively minded defencemen in the league. At centre ice, that vainglorious ice dancer Justin Trudeau, still looking marvellous despite repeatedly tripping over the centre red line.

On left wing, Vancouver East MP Libby "skate on water? I can walk on it" Davies.

Appropriately, at right wing, Minister of Canadian Heritage (and Official Languages) Shelly "who needs shoulder pads?!" Glover.

And in goal, Prime Minister Stephen "the puck stops here" Harper.

As for uniforms, I'm sure Ottawa's senators would be glad to off-load theirs at an overly competitive though fully subsidized price.



Omitting key facts

To maintain his idea of a utopian libertarian state, Chris Buors, in his Nov. 6 letter, conveniently leaves out facts. Rightly or wrongly, the manufacture, distribution and use of crack cocaine is illegal in Canada.

Rob Ford may have an addiction problem. As such, he should be removed from office until such time as an addiction treatment organization declares him fit to return to work.



Embarrassing statistics

That there are more than 60,000 people in Manitoba who use food banks is embarrassing (Welfare plagued with pitfalls, Nov. 9), but the fact that 44 per cent of that number are children should make this unacceptable. There is no reason for any child in a country as rich as ours to have to rely on food banks.

And the fact Manitoba has the highest rate of children using food banks in the country is something our province should be embarrassed about.

While someone working a minimum wage job should not expect to live like royalty, they should be able to afford some form of housing and to put food on the table. If companies have to turn a smaller profit in order to pay their employees better to help prevent children from starving, then so be it.

However, increased wages alone won't be solve the problem. We might as well start off somewhere, so why not increased minimum wages?



Bridge saviours

Every day I walk across the Maryland Bridge -- and each time I say a silent thank you to the unsung heroes who unfailingly paint over the repeated assaults on our city facades, the graffiti.

Whoever you are, thank you for helping to restore a sense of pride and security in our neighbourhood. Your work is true art.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2013 A8

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