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Money behind school's stance

Shifting blame away from York University's charter-rights interpretation seems an oddly disingenuous position for a distinguished academic to take (Ontario's rights code gone awry, Jan. 17). But it may well serve the institution's purposes, and by extension his own, to do so.

Statistics Canada has stated foreign undergraduate students paid an average of 338 per cent higher tuition fees than Canadian full-time undergraduates in the 2012-13 academic year. In addition to an overseas premium, year-to-year fee increases for international students increased at more than twice the domestic rate.

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This might provide greater insight into why York University invoked its particular form of "reasonable accommodation" in the recent case that saw the university acquiesce to a male student's (subsequently retracted) request for exclusion from attending study sessions with female classmates.

If the university can cultivate an international reputation for tolerating its students' religious beliefs against mixed-gender education, there would be a greater likelihood of attracting more foreign students who hold the same exclusionary religious convictions. At more than three times the revenue-generating capacity per student, the university's bottom line can be happily serviced under the guise of religious accommodation.

Consistent with its now-documented "don't ask, don't tell" policy, York will not advertise the fact its female students are worth less than one-third of the financial value their foreign male classmates represent -- something the gender studies department may wish to pursue.

MARK RASH

Winnipeg

 

Euthanasia raises fear

Once again the subject of euthanasia arises, (Top court takes on assisted suicide, Jan. 17) as the Supeme Court is going to hear the B.C. case from the lower courts supporting assisted suicide.

Will our un-elected Supreme Court overturn our laws against taking human life as they recently did in overturning our prostitution laws?

I see us becoming like Belgium, where our elderly are afraid to go for medical help because they are afraid that they will be deemed unfit to live. Instead of valuing life we are becoming a country of death.

SALLY YOUNG

Winnipeg

 

Not just pilot's fault

Re: Plane crash survivor sues, Jan. 14. While the pilot's lack of experience was a cause, it was but one of many the investigators mentioned.

In the article, the main culprit is revealed -- there was heavy icing on the airplane. As an additional factor, the runway wasn't plowed. The plane arrived on time to find no runway; the pilot then had to circle, in icing conditions, for nearly an hour.

The plane would have been very hard to handle as a result of the ice, and the difficult landing had a tragic result.

If the runway had been ready when it was supposed to be, it would have been an easy landing, and all five people would still be alive.

The pilot was plenty competent for everything that could normally have been expected of him. The accident almost certainly wouldn't have happened had there been a place to land when there was supposed to be a place to land.

Now the survivor is suing Keystone as well as the pilot's estate. Are these people the cause of the crash?

ALLAN MCELROY

East St. Paul

 

Joint approach to ERs needed

It's appalling patients discharged from Manitoba hospitals are sent home in taxis, sometimes at night, with the responsibility of their well-being shifted to taxi drivers.

What happened to "the buck stops here?" Instead, health-care authorities shy away from their responsibilities and attempt to shift them to others.

As a former Manitoban I find it shameful the province where I spent 60 years of my life would shift the blame and responsibility onto taxi drivers that might have little or no training compared with paramedics or hospital staff.

I don't suspect anyone was impressed by the health minister's response to the cases of two people who died on their doorsteps after being released. Manitoba Health, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, hospitals and other stakeholders should look at such issues jointly and avoid compartmentalization as a means to avoid responsibility.

GILBERT COMEAULT

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

 

Uphold minimum sentences

Kate Kehler, in her letter Judging the judges (Jan. 4), asserts the court challenges program was dropped to avoid charter challenges by the poor and marginalized. The program was dropped because it had become the legal vehicle for special-interest groups and did not serve the poor and marginalized as originally intended.

A person caught, convicted and given a minimum sentence will argue their punishment is too severe. Society, through its elected representatives, must have the capacity to deter unacceptable behaviour through minimum sentences for crimes.

Judges have the capacity to make representations to the attorney general if they feel laws or punishments are overly onerous and not in the best interests of society.

The decision of individual judges to ignore or overturn minimum-sentencing laws is unacceptable. There is no legal interpretation of a minimum sentence; such decisions are a clear rebellion against constitutional legislative authority.

Our society, not the judiciary, decides what minimum punishments are appropriate for given crimes.

JOHN FELSTED

Winnipeg

 

Balance economy, environment

Re: Park will prevent diamond mining, Jan 10.

Manitoba's largely undeveloped north provides an opportunity to plan for a balance of a prosperous economy and a healthy environment.

Our vast northern landscape has the capacity to provide flexibility so local communities, including First Nations, can achieve their aspirations, including mining operations and other economic opportunities.

Part of the plan could include the newly proposed Polar Bear Provincial Park, which would be a strong component in developing a successful northern economy over the long term. Ecologically responsible tourism and outfitting are major economic drivers, as Churchill is recognized globally for having some of the most unique, accessible wildlife viewing in the world.

Such a park would greatly enhance this opportunity while helping protect an iconic and imperiled Canadian wildlife species.

RON THIESSEN

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2014 A16

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