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Assessing a leader

Your editorial Mandela's gift to Canada (Dec. 7), which outlined the history that led the late Nelson Mandela to Canada, was marvellous. I especially like the final sentence, which suggests that Mandela's legacy might guide Canada toward more reconciliation between our diverse people.

The tributes to Mandela are well-earned by this ethical leader who understood that compassion and reconciliation were more important than hatred and retribution in dealing with so-called bad people.

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Why are there not more ethical leaders? Hopefully, Manitoba will produce one or more leaders whose names will be remembered after their departure from power.

Can we not elect or elevate citizens to greater concern for a just distribution of resources, especially for the disabled and the unemployed? Much unemployment is due to mental illness, whether chronic or episodic. Can we not forge a system of support for such people?

Humane leaders who care less for monetary advance and more for justice and concern for the future are needed. Although our lifespan is extending, equability is declining as the income gap widens.

U.S. President Barack Obama offers a suggestion of dollar increases in the minimum wage, although some Republicans and perhaps some Canadians may see this as thwarting our economic system. Perhaps justice will prevail in the longer run as Mandela implied with his life of dignity and truth. Hopefully, one or more Manitobans will follow his good example.




I find it interesting that South Africa had an island offshore where they kept political prisoners; in Nelson Mandela's case, for 27 years. They called the prisoners terrorists. There are eerie similarities to Guantanamo, except the prisoners there have had no trial.

They released Mandela thinking that he would be too old and out of touch to do any harm to the regime. I wonder if Omar Khadr could rise to Mandela's level when he is released from prison in Canada?


Kelowna, B.C.


I question whether Stephen Harper is worthy to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela since he announced that Canadian foreign policy will henceforth be based foremost on economic considerations.

Not aid and development, nor human rights, nor social justice, just dollars and cents.

Such heartless indifference would once have led Canada to oppose -- not lead and support -- the boycott against South Africa that eventually earned Nelson Mandela and his nation their freedom.

Mandela once stated, "We shall never forget how millions of people around the world joined us in solidarity to fight the injustice of our oppression." This was a tribute to all those with the integrity to put monetary considerations in their proper place.

Canadians can only hope that Harper will take Mandela's words -- indeed, the example of his generous, courageous life -- to heart and return a better man for it.


Duncan, B.C.


I find it interesting that in all the publicity related to Nelson Mandela, I have seen very little about his second wife, Winnie.

If it would not have been for her informing the public and the heads of state about his plight and keeping his name on people's tongues, he would have rotted in jail. He was not a popular politician, because he was the head of the African National Congress, a communist organization. This led to his imprisonment in the first place.

His image has been cleaned and polished, and he now has the status of a saint. The media have chosen very carefully the quotes they print, because there were many that would not have been acceptable for a saint.




Two different Israels

Re: PM shines at Jewish gala dinner (Dec. 2). So the Jewish National Association wined and dined our prime minister, who in turn "reiterated Canada will continue to back Israel in the United Nations and abroad preaching Israel's right to exist."

Is this the same Israel that has ignored literally dozens of UN resolutions in respect to its treatment of Palestinians? Is this the same Israel that has flagrantly violated the human rights of people who have inhabited the land for centuries by unlawfully occupying UN designated Palestinian territory, cutting off their water supply, destroying their farms, orchards and homes, preventing their children from attending school, curtailing their movement and on and on?

Is this the same PM who only a few weeks ago boycotted the Commonwealth meetings because of the host country's human rights record?




Senate legitimacy lost

If the Senate had still any reason for existing, it lost it with the vote against having Michael Runia testify at a Senate committee.

Personally, I was still sitting on the fence regarding abolition of the Senate. Some bad apples produced some good stuff, and all that.

However, the vote is anything but "second sober thought." The venerable institution has basically turned into a coverup for the alleged wrongdoings of one or more of its members.

There go the last vestiges of legitimacy. Hopefully, other provinces will vote for abolition, like Manitoba did.




Reaping the benefits

What a relief it was to learn from Vince Warden (A simple calculation, Letters, Dec. 3) that the Wuskwatim generating station will be paid for, at 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour, in only 67 years, just before it's time to replace it.

It's too bad that most of Warden's grandchildren and my own will not likely be around to reap the benefits of this wonderful investment.

In pointing out that Manitoba Hydro had deducted over $500 million in reporting the cost of the $1.8-million Wuskwatim in its 2013 annual report, I did not suggest that ratepayers should be charged doubly for costs that were covered from internally generated funds, as Warden insinuates.

The point was simply that it doesn't matter that the $500 million was internally generated and that the remainder will be amortized over the life of the facility. Both sources are just different pockets of the same ratepayer.

I am well aware that Warden, a former CFO of Manitoba Hydro, must understand this point but I am puzzled why he insists that it is appropriate to report annual losses calculated using only part of the cost of the facility.


Bipole III Coalition



Like being the king

In his Nov. 28 letter, Governing by politeness, Robert Foster expresses the reality of so-called public consultation in Manitoba. From everything I've seen in Winnipeg, from the sprawl of Waverley West, to backroom land swaps, from the building of fire halls and police headquarters to the massive indebtedness of Bipole III, every level of government has interpreted having been elected as synonymous with being crowned king in centuries past.

However, I'd like to suggest the headline was inaccurate. It should have read "Arrogance and megalomania."



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2013 A8

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