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Rankling the infidels

Re: Season's greetings -- even to 'infidel atheists': Pallister (Dec. 2). I am a Christian. Many of my friends are atheists, and they are all good people. It offends me and them when Brian Pallister calls them "infidel atheists." Someone aspiring to be the next premier of Manitoba should choose his words more carefully.

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As Jesus said in Chapter 15 of the Book of Matthew, it is not so much what goes into a person's mouth that defiles him. It is what comes out of his mouth, since it reveals what is in his heart.




As a politician, Brian Pallister is not deaf to nuance. His phrase "infidel atheists" is therefore deliberate. The term infidel in its common usage is exclusionary and a bit offensive.

Yes, this province is chock full of pagans, heathens and infidels of all stripes, in addition to those of Pallister's preferred belief persuasion. If he wants to represent all of us, he'd be advised to consult his thesaurus and find some better words.

Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Pallister has illuminated Gandhi's meaning. Happy winter solstice!



Misleading seniors

Re: Get ready for some pain (Nov. 30). So our property taxes will go up by 2.95 per cent? I wonder if Mayor Sam Katz remembers his October 2010 robocalls to Winnipeg seniors?

In the midst of the mayoral election, his call warned us that the two per cent property-tax increase proposed by his opponent, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, would lead to the loss of our homes.

As a recipient of his earlier call, I would suggest that Katz make another robocall now to advise seniors that his 2010 message was misinformed and crafted solely to mislead the voters of Winnipeg.

I did not object to Wasylycia-Leis' proposed tax increase in 2010, nor do I oppose Katz's greater increase. However, I do object to the cynicism exhibited by Katz over a number of years in demonizing taxation for political gain while ignoring the need for investment in infrastructure. After nine years in office, the mayor's light has come on. Better late than never.



Brushing aside issues

The Nov. 30 editorial City budget exposes fiscal gap is, to put it mildly, beyond the pale.

The mayor, councillors and the city may have a revenue problem, but they also have other issues that the editorial blissfully brushed aside.

First, the police budget and the fire and paramedic service budget are both out of control. Crime is dropping, yet we are seeing increases in police budgets way beyond inflation. Increases are given to fire and paramedic service personnel also way beyond inflation.

Second, the out-of-control spending on the police headquarters, which was mismanaged from Day 1, is just one small example of the incredible ability of city politicians to waste money while pointing fingers like contorting octopi at everyone else.

Third, the cuts to spending on items like grants to Winnipeg Harvest and the Poverty Action Strategy in the last city budget are truly heartless when the city has hundreds of thousands to spend on politically connected consultants. The Sherbrook Pool will never be reopened because, after all, it serves the inner city. Who cares about them?

This is a multi-faceted problem that requires leadership to tackle. Unfortunately, we don't have that from either city politicians or Free Press editorial writers.



Cherry has connections

Re: Cherry says he's too good to tinker with (Dec. 2). I write to suggest Don Cherry needn't worry about finding a new job with the possible cancellation of Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner.

Given his connection with the Ford brothers, he'd be a perfect fit to appear on their upcoming reality TV series.



A simple calculation

Re: The cost of Wuskwatim (Letters, Nov. 26). Manitoba Hydro's calculation of the unit cost of 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour includes transmission and does not deduct internally generated funds.

The calculation is not complicated. It's simply the annual amount required to amortize the total cost of Wuskwatim, including transmission, over 67 years divided by the average annual output of Wuskwatim.

Where it is appropriate to deduct internally generated funds is in the determination of Wuskwatim's impact on Hydro's financial statements. Failure to make this deduction would, in effect, be charging Hydro's ratepayers twice for a contribution they have already made to Wuskwatim's cost.

Garland Laliberté shouldn't be surprised that Wuskwatim's unit cost of 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour is higher than the embedded cost of generating stations built over the past 60-plus years -- of course this would be the case. However, this doesn't translate into losses attributable to Wuskwatim. It just reflects the reality that it's more expensive to build today than in the past.

Wuskwatim is needed to serve the Manitoba load, and when considering its unit cost, the appropriate comparison is to the cost of supply from alternative sources. By any measure, Wuskwatim represents good value for Manitoba ratepayers.



Paying for city amenities

Re: City dwellers to get first dibs (Nov. 30). I was a full-time resident of Winnipeg for more than 50 years and only recently moved outside city borders.

I have paid taxes that helped build the swimming pools and other recreation facilities and I shop and pay PST, which helps maintains those buildings.

Anyone who buys anything in Manitoba should be allowed to use Winnipeg facilities without discrimination, because the province uses PST funds to help Winnipeg maintain its infrastructure.


Ile Des Chenes

Vaping risks are lower

Re: On the vapour trail (Nov. 30). I never expected to stop smoking. A 30-year habit is hard to break. Only a few weeks ago, after months of research, did I purchase my first e-cigarette. Just like that, I do not smoke any more. Now I vape.

I am supremely confident that its risks are far, far lower than smoking. Several high-profile American doctors agree with me.

An estimated 37,000 Canadians die prematurely each year from smoking-related illness. The government needs to step up to properly regulate the vaping industry and bring it into mainstream to save some of those lives.

Of course, at risk here is the over $7 billion in annual tax revenue from tobacco sales. I wonder what the government values more: the health of six million smokers, or the tax dollars they generate?



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 3, 2013 A8

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