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Judging the judges

Your Jan. 2 editorial Tone down conflict, get justice done correctly pointed out whose responsibility it is to create legislation, the government, and whose job it is to administer that legislation, the judiciary.

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You fail, however, to point out that it is the government's responsibility to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and by passing legislation that conflicts with the charter, it fails in that duty.

Your editorial states that the Supreme Court of Canada might set everyone straight. In order to do so, however, charter challenges must be launched. These are time-consuming and extremely costly. The Harper government moved to make charter rights more inaccessible to the poor and marginalized in 2007 by killing the court challenge program.

This, with further cuts to legal-aid funding and other legislation, means that much harm will be done while we await the re-establishment of evidence-based, balanced and just approaches to crime and its consequences.


John Howard Society of Manitoba



I agree that the justice departments in our federal and provincial courts are taking the law in their own hands and changing it to suit themselves. Since when did our Constitution and government hand over this much authority to unelected officials? I do not know of anywhere or of any time we have given them this much power.

Maybe it is time for judges in our court system go to back to what they were selected and appointed to do: uphold the law and not change it.



Dealing with diabetes

Janice Isopp is correct in reference to my criticism of Manitoba Health under the NDP's leadership (Diabetes strategy dated, Letters, Jan. 2). I want to correct the impression left with regard to the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP).

Contrary to Isopp's assertion, I have not been critical of the CDA. Indeed, I have been impressed with the leadership of their regional director, Andrea Kwasnicki, who has been working hard to get more attention to the diabetes epidemic and more effective prevention as well as better treatment.

With regard to the MCHP, its report said, "It is important to not over-interpret the importance of small differences." The problem was less with the MCHP and more with Premier Greg Selinger and the NDP, who have tried to mislead Manitobans by overemphasizing a small statistical change in diabetes incidence.


MLA, River Heights

Getting royally upset

The Jan. 2 Canadian Press story Son's generosity brings fame to mortgage-free mom refers to the "Royal Canadian Army."

It's called the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Canadian army never had "Royal" before its name, although many regiments still currently do.

It may be semantics, but this was drilled into me when I was a private in the Royal Canadian Regiment.



MPI reaction ice cold

Re: Vehicles stuck in frozen traffic jam (Jan. 2). Unlike the Russian ship stuck in the ice in Antarctica that garnered worldwide interest, the residents of Northwood Oaks were left completely on their own -- there was no rescue in the cards for them.

Manitoba Public Insurance's Brian Smiley said residents could fend for themselves, call a tow truck and submit a claim. Now that's customer service.

A little leadership, a little prescience, a little customer service was in order, but in the Manitoba tradition of late was not to be found.



Pluralistic democracy

In his Dec. 23 letter, UN affects nothing, Murray Theunissen drops a couple of the usual slurs against Israel. I'd like to provide some correct information.

Israel is a pluralistic democracy and one of the few countries in the Middle East where women enjoy the same rights as men. Not only are all citizens treated equally, but minorities thrive. A few recent examples:

Mais Ali-Selah, a Muslim woman from the Israeli town of Nazareth, graduated as valedictorian from Israel's most prestigious medical school. She is currently doing her residency at Carmel Hospital in Haifa.

Col. Rassan Alian, an Israeli Druze Muslim, was promoted to the head of the elite Golani Brigade, which safeguards Israel's north from Syrian attack. He distinguished himself during his service against Palestinian terrorist forces while a commander in the West Bank and in Gaza.

Father Gabriel Nadaif, a Greek Orthodox priest from Tel Aviv, recently said he was proud to live in Israel because "Israel is a shining example of human rights in the Middle East."

He's not the only one who thinks so. Deputy speaker of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) Hamad Amar, a Druze leader, pointed out, "In our whole region consisting of over 350 million Arabs, there are only 1,658,000 Arabs who have complete political and religious freedom and have the right to vote in full democratic elections. It is no coincidence that all of these Arabs live as full and equal citizens in the one Jewish state."



Little reason for toasting

Paul Samyn can wax smugly (A toast to a relationship we've formed together, Dec. 31) all he wants to about the "advancements" made by the Winnipeg Free Press, but his assertions are falling increasingly on deaf ears.

The moves to social-media platforms and Blippar purport to being "up-to-date with modern trends," but those concessions are mere window-dressing to hide the fact there is little content of interest to serious readers. I'd hazard a guess most "plugged-in" professionals read electronic feeds from organizations that can still call themselves newspapers, where one can be informed.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2014 A12

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