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Questions over Harper trip

Over the past few days, Canadians have been exposed to a lovefest between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Harper's words welcome in Israel, Jan. 21). What do these leaders hope to achieve?

Dutiful news media from around the world are covering this questionable visit in great detail, but I have yet to hear how this spectacle will advance the cause of peace in the area. This is particularly troubling, especially when the U.S., Western Europe, Russia and a number of Islamic states are in the midst of diplomatic initiatives designed to avert another tragic calamity.

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Canada could and should be playing a pivotal role during this critical period in history. Instead, it appears our prime minister is determined to snuff out any last vestiges of credibility Canada may have enjoyed in the noble art of peacekeeping.




I will let others call Harper's trip to Israel a pre-campaign pep rally to provide video clips of the leader basking in the love of friendly crowds. Someone else can question the size of his entourage flying on the taxpayer's money.

My question: Why, in the name of all that is green, has Israel chosen to honour their new, self-proclaimed BFF by naming, of all things, a bird sanctuary after Stephen Harper -- the man who would close the Experimental Lakes Area?




Splash-pad plan for the dogs

The city wants to spend $50,000 for a dog splash pad (Dog splash pad gets city nod, Jan. 22). Has the cold weather clouded the judgment of city officials?

Forget the crumbling roads and sidewalks, forget the brown water; if Rover can have a splash pad, why not Fluffy the cat and Hammy the hamster?




No pooches in Super Bowl

While I agree the Denver Broncos will likely win the Super Bowl next Sunday (Manning vs. Wilson Siberian tiger vs. blind poodle, Jan. 21), the rest of Doug Brown's article unfairly mocks a man and his team, as well as the game that I love.

Brown calls Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman a "buffoon of colossal proportions." He is definitely a proud, excitable and yes, slightly egotistical man, but Brown of all people should understand these individuals exist in football. (Sherman is also a Stanford graduate, which runs counter to allegations of him being a buffoon.)

Sherman had just made the play to send his team to the Super Bowl -- who wouldn't be excited and on an emotional high following that climactic play?

Meanwhile, Brown's analogy of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as a full-grown Siberian tiger versus Seahawks QB Russell Wilson as "a blind toy poodle with three legs" looks pretty on paper, but it's unfair. Wilson performed well enough to send his team to the Super Bowl, and his athletic gifts are far from that of a "blind toy poodle."




Water issues everywhere

After four weeks of intermittent water and having to walk down the street for water, Charleswood residents are frustrated and angry at the city (Charleswood residents struggle through water woes, Jan. 20).

Compare this to the conditions many people in Manitoba live in day in and day out. Yes, federal money has been earmarked to upgrade the water systems in nine First Nations communities. This will take four years to accomplish -- not four weeks.

While it wouldn't be fun to go without running water for four weeks, and I feel for the residents in Charleswood, it would be even more frustrating to live without running water for years on end and have your complaints fall on deaf ears.




Invest in better railways

Barry Prentice makes lots of excuses for the railway's failure to provide adequate service (Bumper crop starved for market, Jan. 18), but carefully avoids the basic problem: In the interest of short-term profit, the railways have deteriorated to the point that they are both unable to provide service and have become a danger to the public.

Soon after the railways were completed, trains hurtled across the country at 160 km/h. Today, they are limited to 70 km/h and even at that low speed are not safe.

If the railway roadbeds had been properly maintained, the lines could handle much more traffic. If the whole route had been double-tracked, as it should have been, they would easily handle more than twice the traffic they are handling today and would get a great deal of traffic off the highways.

The truckers' roadbeds are maintained by taxpayers, while the railways pay their own way. A single-diesel locomotive hauling 10 cars replaces 20 trucks carrying their maximum load, and the train can travel at twice the speed -- if the roadbed is up to standard.

The railroads were built with taxpayers' money, and we should get a reasonable return on our investment. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an economist and economists are notoriously short-sighted, rarely looking beyond this quarter's bottom line. Upgrading the railroads is an investment in the future.




New coach earns high praise

Re: Maurice a keeper, says guy who fired him -- twice, Jan. 22.

I have watched more than my share of hockey over the years. Based on the Winnipeg Jets' recent results under new head coach Paul Maurice, it can safely be said this guy could run for mayor and win in this town.




Traffic-calming calamity

On Tuesday night a vehicle once again took out the signs on one of those concrete islands installed to "calm" traffic.

By my count, that amounts to about 10 of these collisions on Nassau Street north alone since they were erected.

We need to tear these things down and return the stop signs.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2014 A12

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