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Police HQ audit needed

I don't get how a city committee can pass a budget for renovations on only 30 per cent of a project (Call for police HQ audit from right and left, Jan. 14) and then say they have overruns. Did they get a cost projection on the remaining 70 per cent of the project?

That's like building a house with walls and windows but without doors, insulation and other essential components.

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You can't have overruns unless you have a budget based on actual costs to complete the project. An audit needs to happen to try and find out how this happened.




Taxes a necessary evil

Graham Lane provides his personal advice for the 2014-15 provincial budget (A budget that's balanced, Jan. 15). His wish list includes a few potentially useful items and includes a few tax-expenditure suggestions of his own.

He undercuts his suggestions, however, by putting forth the notion that tax revenues are taken from the pockets of taxpayers for the benefit of the government.

Government is the duly elected mechanism by which the community seeks to achieve collectively what is impractical or impossible to do on our own -- adequate snow-clearing, for example.

He suggests Manitoba's goals should include lower income- and sales-tax rates. In an ideal world: Hear, hear, sign me up.

Perhaps Lane forgets that last year's budget, the so-called sales-tax budget, also cut or froze the expenditures of 11 departments, on top of cuts and freezes to five departments in the previous year.

It's always about choices, balance and managing transitions. Would Lane be prepared to submit his own tax-expenditure suggestions to the cutting knife?




Shift focus from cabbies

I am dumbfounded by Health Minister Erin Selby's plan to have cab drivers assume responsibility for discharged patients (Discharge policy not followed?, Jan. 14). Coun. Harvey Smith not only supports her plan, but manages to insult the very individuals they are asking to take on the task.

Coun. Smith says: "They do very little..." What does he mean by that? These drivers are working hard, often very long hours and risking their lives making a living.

If a cab driver sees an individual in trouble, what are they supposed to do? Perform CPR? Wait around for help to arrive? The concerned hospital authorities and the minister should be focusing on the root of the problem and preventing these mistakes from happening again.




Health Minister Erin Selby should get some of the high-paid WRHA executives to drive discharged patients home and see them safely inside.

Since they, not cab drivers, are ultimately responsible for patients, this would likely make better use of their time than writing up mandates that shift the responsibility elsewhere.




Singer hits high note

On Monday night a Winnipeg-born opera singer made her debut in a starring role at the Metropolitan Opera. Yes, there was a brief story on Adriana Chuchman last week in the Winnipeg Free Press (Soprano Chuchman making Metropolitan Opera debut tonight in NYC, Jan. 9).

Will there be a forthcoming story covering the very positive reviews garnered from Chuchman's performance? There was certainly lots of coverage of the movie and TV second-stringers attending Winnipeg-sponsored events in Los Angeles. This is just as important.




Jets playing for jobs

The Winnipeg Jets' win was because of the influence of a new coach (Maurice provides Jet fuel, Jan. 14)? I don't think so.

The Jets seemed to be playing better under the threat of facing the firing squad, as well as to impress the new coach so he doesn't recommend a trade when consulted by general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

Coaching a team for one afternoon doesn't change a player.




Young's diatribe divisive

No one will argue with the fact Canada relies on Alberta's oilsands for much of our economy (Celebrity activism often oily, Jan. 15).

We may quibble about his choice of words, but Neil Young's support of our First Nations is commendable.

But I really hoped Canadians would see it as an opportunity to have a serious dialogue about the general state of energy sources in our country. Instead, the Prime Minister's Office replies to Young's antics with a news release that, were it not coming from our highest office, would be laughable.

When will we have a serious debate in our country about energy and the environment without the rhetoric? Where has the Harper government been on energy and environmental public policy? Their time in power has been a wasteland as it relates to alternative power sources and advances in environmental controls.

Can we not use a few dollars from the many billions made from the oilsands to set up a public forum to debate solutions to our reliance on them?

Or is it, like Young says, "all about the money," with truth and virtue losing out?




Neil Young is grandstanding, and whether it's to sell CDs or placate his friends in the environmental movement, he needs to tone it down.

Thousands of Canadians have high-paying jobs in Fort McMurray, Alta. Without the development of the oilsands these jobs wouldn't exist.

The tarsands Young describes are one of the major engines of our economy. Without them, Canadians would have less prosperity and fewer social programs.

Canada produces a small fraction of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions; the oilsands accounts for a fraction of that fraction. The oilsands are hardly the greenhouse-gas producers so many say they are.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2014 A12

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