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No special treatment for rich

Conrad Black is in arrears to Revenue Canada to the tune of about $5 million (Black owes back taxes, Jan. 22); what will the payment program be?

Black's argument that he was a British citizen at the time is outrageous. Why is Black living in Canada if he is using his British citizenship as a defence for tax evasion?

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While I admire Black's intelligence, I am disgusted with the special treatment he is afforded. Persons of lesser means would never have a chance against the powers that be.

Black isn't above the law. People are hurting all over the country, and millionaires get special treatment. That has to change.




Fontaine attack unwarranted

Those who protested during Phil Fontaine's speech at the University of Winnipeg on Wednesday should listen to the message before attacking the messenger (Protest halts Fontaine speech, Jan. 23).

Fontaine has been villainized and accused of being "a sellout" to resource-based extraction companies.

Instead of attacking and condemning Phil Fontaine, look at his involvement with resource-based companies. In Manitoba, his consulting company, Ishkonigan Consulting and Mediation, has secured a contract to facilitate the consultation process for TransCanada Pipeline with First Nations.

As an indigenous person, I'm more concerned with the actual power brokers (the chiefs) in our communities, the majority of whom make the final, unilateral decision on the take-it-or-leave-it positions they find themselves in because of the legally required duty to consult. I trust Phil Fontaine to co-ordinate this critical requirement over the chiefs, who in many cases are in over their heads.




Concern over Bitcoins

Bitcoins present a number of challenges and concerns (Two sides to this coin, Jan. 22).

Colin Hamlin, owner of Plato and Company, mentions buyer trust as being important. There needs to be trust in both the Bitcoin currency and in those who supply the currency. How fast will this currency grow, and how will this growth be handled by its stakeholders? If Bitcoins grow too fast, how will their value be affected?

Some governments such as China have resisted, but what about the Canadian government? Will I be able to use Bitcoins to buy mutual funds inside registered accounts like tax-free savings accounts and RRSPs? If I am a business owner whose cash flow relies on Bitcoin transactions, how do I put money away for retirement if the currency isn't accepted?




Stop appointing senators

While I appreciate Preston Manning and Ted Morton's intention (Vote on future of Senate, Jan. 23), we can do it more simply.

There is nothing requiring a prime minister to appoint senators. Yet Stephen Harper, who says he wants reform, has appointed 51 of the 105 senators for whom Canadians pay the salaries and benefits, to the tune of about $100 million a year -- not counting the lifetime pensions.

Even without a constitutional amendment, effectively abolishing the Senate is really quite easy: stop appointing senators. We need only an agreement that no federal leader will ever appoint another senator. While this would admittedly take some time, even eliminating one senator at a time will save us a lot of money every year.

Let's ask Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair what they will do when the next opportunity comes along to waste our money on the Senate.




Collections, plowing connected

Re: Trash, recycling collections back on track (Jan. 21).

The issue of collecting garbage and recycling materials is related to snow plowing.

I don't live in an isolated area, but on a main thoroughfare with a school adjoining my back lane, which had not been plowed for two weekends in a row. I called 311 to report this, as well as the fact there was a huge snowdrift at the end of the lane.

The following day, I noticed a snowplow removing the snowdrift, and Emterra finishing their collecting, which had been sitting on driveways for nearly a week.

After the big brouhaha surrounding December's poor service and cold weather, it appears matters have gotten worse -- at least in my end of the city.




Brown-water bonanza

Re: Brown-water report soon, Jan. 23.

As seasonal water-main breaks continue to plague us and deliver golden-coloured water to our residences, may I suggest our city water engineers seize the opportunity and somehow sweeten the flow, flavour it, add carbonation, call it "Champagne" (of course the French would retaliate) and make it available for celebrations for the Chinese New Year -- a low-cost alternative vintage dubbed "Year of The Kat(z)".




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 24, 2014 A12

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