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Defining an emergency

Re: Record number exit ER before seeing doctor (Nov. 27). If people are waiting at the emergency department of a hospital for a long time and then walking away, does it not make one think that perhaps those people didn't need emergency care in the first place?

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Any time I have needed emergency care, I got it. There are a lot of options available for everything else. And a big thank-you to our Canadian medical system for that.



Concourse is frustrating

Re: Eight lanes of concrete (Letters, Nov. 23). Opening Portage and Main to pedestrians isn't just about traffic flow. Having to go underground just to cross the street is frustrating and time-consuming.

It's a rat's maze down there. I don't care if I'm looking at "three large banks and a business tower," I just want to get across the street.



Senate still has a role

Just as there is no doubt that the Canadian Senate is in desperate need of reform, there is little question that the current Manitoba government would not be calling for its abolition if the NDP were the majority party in the Red Chamber (Manitoba votes to scrap Senate, Nov. 27).

Calling for the scrapping of the Senate because of its undemocratic appointment process, overly generous compensation programs and questionable dealings by some of its miscreant members is like advocating for the Teamsters to be disbanded simply because Jimmy Hoffa was (allegedly) on the take.

The mandate and operation of any political institution ought to be clearly differentiated from the personalities and behaviours of those who occupy it. Otherwise, it serves no better purpose than a stroll down the popularity catwalk.

The Senate is there to provide regional representation in a way the House of Commons cannot. The challenge now is to find that lost way.




Your Nov. 23 story A rocky $90,000 relationship, about Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy, is scary. Neither the reporter, nor precious few readers for that matter, even questioned that an employee of the prime minister can instruct a senator to repay money. And that if he doesn't, he will instruct the Senate to garnishee his wages.

Aren't the House of Commons and the Senate independent of each other?

I didn't know that in a democracy this sort of power was being wielded by private citizens.




It is a waste of time, words and effort to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper what he knew about Nigel Wright's arrangements on Mike Duffy's behalf. He would have been really naive and stupid to participate in the plan, and we know Harper is neither of those things.

Of course, now that Harper does know what everyone else knows, what is he going to say or do about it?



Beyond mere facts

In his Nov. 23 letter Scandal overblown by media, Bill Steele suggests that the media should report the facts and only the facts. Yes, reporting the facts is sound advice indeed.

However, as with most issues, there is more to report than simply the facts. Asking probing questions, providing a more thorough history of events, offering solutions and encouraging critical thinking are basic tenets of good journalism.

I commend the various media that have bravely weathered the frustration of dealing with a federal government that is impervious to questioning by anyone. A government that purports to know what is best for Canadians yet discourages all critical input should raise our collective suspicion.

This comes at a time when far too many politicians expect the public to believe in them simply on the basis of blind trust. Paradoxically, this is exactly the time that they have clearly demonstrated they they do not deserve our trust at all.

Unlike the government, the media serve Canadians well when the facts, combined with an in-depth analysis of events, allow each and every one of us to form our own opinions. How refreshing it is that we enjoy the privilege of having this freedom.



Involve private business

I must express a deep and worrying concern for all the building that the University of Winnipeg has embarked on in the past years (14 storeys to call home, Nov. 26).

Is there not some private company that would be only too happy to take on building this edifice? Why not have the university get on with its basic responsibilities, teaching and research, and let private enterprise build the residence with no cost to the university?



Unabashed contempt

Those councillors who voted against an independent investigation into why the new police headquarters is, at this point, $76 million over budget are demonstrating their unabashed contempt for the taxpayer. We vote for elected officials expecting them to represent our interests. Surely this includes accounting for how our money is used or misused.

It also means informing the electorate of the steps taken to rectify the situation, which in turn includes how the parties involved in misdeeds or incompetence at our expense have been held accountable. It is inconceivable that an audit is not a given in such a clear case of mismanagement. One wonders why these councillors are so invested in maintaining our ignorance of what actually transpired.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 2, 2013 A10

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