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Sanctimonious sarcasm

Ed Lavallee seems to be missing the point of the fuss about "infidel" being used to describe non-believers (Atheists have all the fun, Letters, Dec. 5).

"Infidel" might literally mean non-believer, but the connotation is derogatory. To turn the issue around, if I were to refer to someone as a "broth Protestant" in Northern Ireland, it would literally mean a person who converted from Catholicism to Protestantism for food. It implies that the person sold out their faith cheaply.

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Similarly, to refer to someone as a "prod" may be accurate but it is still derogatory. "Bible-thumper" is not a particularly nice description of a Christian, although it may be accurate.

Lavallee's sanctimonious sarcasm minimizes the detrimental effect of seemingly harmless words used against people of all beliefs. The reason we avoid them today is they have led to some rather unpleasant results in the past.

Oh, and sanctimonious is accurate in this case, since he implies atheists are morally inferior to Christians. It's just kind of derogatory.




It has been a long time since anything in the Free Press has given me as good a laugh as Ed Lavallee's extremely clever letter lampooning atheists.

Lavallee should write more often. It is not everyone who can deliver a clear and sharp lesson couched in such a way that it makes its point with laughter.




Cutting cat costs

In his Dec. 3 column, Blind cuts sign of cowardice, Dan Lett states that the city should look for real efficiencies in the preliminary operating budget for 2014.

A real efficiency city officials should pursue is a way to reduce expenses in the animal services department. These were $3 million for 2013, including a $500,000 contract with the Winnipeg Humane Society to be the city's pound for cats.

Animal services is asking for a $1.4-million annual subsidy for the next three years on top of funds it has been approved to receive from proposed cat licences in January 2015.

Progressive communities across the U.S. and Ontario are establishing high-volume, low-cost, self-sustaining spay-and-neuter clinics based on the "humane alliance" model, which can end cat overpopulation and save millions of taxpayer dollars.

To be fiscally responsible, our city needs to take this proactive, cost-effective approach.




Means to annihilation

Re: Plan better than nothing (Letters, Nov. 30). Don Palmer's implying that Israel's undeclared nuclear weapon arsenal justifies Iran's pursuit of atomic weaponry for self-defence not only defies logic, but even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledges (if we are to trust his "charm offensive") that "nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's security."

Or so he said in his speech at the United Nations recently. Of course, Iran's advancement toward the nuclear precipice is widely seen as a means to use these weapons to annihilate the Jewish state and to destabilize the Middle East.

Irrespective of whether or not Israel possesses nuclear weapons, it's simply absurd to equate democratic Israel with the terror-supporting, Holocaust-denying, theocratic Iranian regime.




Maintaining aid integrity

Canada is at a crossroads as it rolls out its plans for "economic diplomacy." The assertion of the principle outlined in your Nov. 29 editorial Diplomacy fit for the times that "Canada needs a balanced foreign policy" is timely and appropriate.

There remain many questions around how this will unfold. Canada's international partners are keenly interested in whether this balance can be struck. Historical agents of Canadian aid, such as NGOs and their partners, are seeking to find their place within the new framework. Civil society is a key player in supporting economic activities at a local level, while human rights are preserved.

It is in everyone's interest that (while Canada's efforts may be guided by economic goals) we maintain the integrity of our official development assistance and the promotion of human rights for which Canada has been so well-respected internationally.


Canadian Lutheran World Relief



Suspicious of efficiency

Re: STARS air ambulance grounded (Dec. 3). For those of us who live in rural Manitoba, the STARS air ambulance has proved its value many, many times. Many rural Manitobans have had their lives saved by this quick air ambulance that beats land travel ambulances by far.

There is something suspicious about why this effective service has been temporarily suspended. It cannot be because several people have died en route -- that happens almost daily with land ambulances throughout Manitoba. Should we then not cancel all ambulances services throughout the province?

The scenario is a familiar one. The NDP government dislikes private enterprises that offer more effective services at a lower price than any government agency ever could. Once they have effectively dismantled the private-enterprise service, they will resurrect their own with slower service at twice the price.

The losers are rural Manitobans with whose lives Selinger does not mind playing for his own narcissistic political goals.




Burb life comes with cost

There is much gnashing of teeth and complaining about snarled traffic and clogged streets, especially when there is a storm. Much of the difficulty occurs with people who live in the suburbs driving to and from work.

People have the right to live where they wish to and can afford to. Many choose suburban or exurban lifestyles. But rights come with responsibilities.

When considering a move to the edges of the city, ask about who is paying for the additional streets, recycling and garbage collection, bus routes, schools, community centres, libraries, emergency services and snow-clearing. Ask whether the developers have paid their share of that additional infrastructure, or if those demands have been added to the general tax costs.

Explore whether you can work from home some of the time, such as one day per week. Is carpooling an option? Can you live closer to where you work? Would your cycling route be safe and accessible?

We live in a difficult climate for part of the year. That means the wise resident builds in sufficient travel time when the weather is bad. Maybe leave earlier, or stay later. Possibly take a less direct -- but also less crowded -- route home.

Bring a good book and enjoy reading while on a bus. Drive partway, and then use the bus or walk.

Enjoy the suburban life. But be prepared to pay your part of it.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2013 A8

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