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Elections need transparency

While I was disappointed to see the tepid criticism of the new proposed elections act (Election act's core weakness, Editorial, Feb. 7), Dan Lett offered some hope that the press will not let this "horrible misrepresentation of what is going on here" go unanswered (Election bill helps Tories exclusively, Feb. 7).

In typical Harper fashion, he is ramming this 252-page bill through Parliament, and we the voters will have very little knowledge of what it proposes until it is a done deal.

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This government is doing a grave disservice to all Canadians regardless of their political stripes.




The long-standing hostility between Stephen Harper and Elections Canada is well-documented, beginning in 2000 with the National Citizens' Coalition (headed by Harper) fighting Elections Canada all the way to the Supreme Court over the ban on unlimited third-party election advertising.

Removing the commissioner of Elections Canada from the office of the chief electoral officer and placing that position in the department of public prosecutions is egregious.

These partisan tactics will undermine the ability of this once non-partisan office to fully investigate and pursue those who wilfully engage in questionable and illegal electoral activities.

Elections Canada is currently investigating about 30,000 complaints regarding the Tories' use of robocall tactics in the 2011 federal election. The government has repeatedly and vigorously obstructed this investigation.

The proposed changes to Elections Canada will do nothing to ensure the integrity and transparency of our electoral process in the 2015 federal election.




Japan's alluring culture

Re: WAG jettisons gala's Japanese theme, Feb. 13).

While in Japan, I experienced the country's art, architecture, fashion, cuisine and cutting-edge technology.

Conversations with legendary sumo wrestlers gave me insight into the sport's historical and contemporary significance, as did discussions with similarly instructive geishas about their respected profession.

Some would suggest any tribute to Japan's unique culture made outside that country -- most notably by those not of Japanese ethnic extraction -- amounts to unwarranted and disrespectful cultural appropriation.

But there's a marked distinction between cultural appropriation and the ongoing deferential celebration of national pride.

It was never the WAG's intention to miscast, stereotype or, as has been unfairly characterized, "fetishize" Japan or its traditions. Indeed, the Big in Japan event was to have been a tribute to that country's cultural treasures.

I am truly sorry the WAG has cancelled its Big in Japan fundraiser. In a small way, I was hoping to introduce others to the country's alluring culture.




Chief's opinion refreshing

One can never downplay the physiological effects inflicted on the First Nations people of Canada by colonialism, residential schools, the problems with implementing devolution and all their after-effects (Bloodshed besets Bloodvein, Feb. 13).

It comes as a surprise that Bloodvein Chief Roland Hamilton blames the problems besetting his reserve on none of the above, instead blaming "poor parenting, lack of policing and alcohol for the reserve's problems."

I applaud Hamilton for not putting the blame for all First Nations problems on past injustices, but rather realizing that some of the problems are faced by people across the country every day.




New entomologist bugs some

New insect control branch boss hired, Feb. 13.

It is now patently clear why an eminently qualified entomologist was fired and a number-crunching bureaucrat replaced him -- City of Winnipeg administrators prefer the bottom line to our health and safety.




STARS a godsend

Re: STARS not needed, Feb. 8.

The human body is a wonder, but things can go wrong in an instant -- whether it's on an operating table or sitting at home in front of your TV. Critical incidents happen every day in the medical world, and that is because we are human.

Rural areas are struggling to provide the best possible care with limited resources, and STARS is one resource that has been a godsend.

How sad that we have this wonderful services at our disposal and it is grounded. STARS has more than paid for itself, and I would certainly take my chances with them.




Broader tax relief needed

Re: Tories revise income-splitting vow (Feb. 14).

Rather than being vilified, the Tories should be commended for their change of heart in revamping the income-splitting proposal.

What's the sense in adhering to a promise that, upon greater scrutiny, has proven to benefit only the fortunate few?

Adopting better options to reduce the tax burden on average families is good policy, as well as good politics.




Double-double trouble

There have been many good Manitoba Public Insurance ads lately about driving paying special attention to road conditions.

I was curious about the guy who zoomed past me east down Portage Avenue in the parking lane doing approximately 75 km/h.

I sped up to see what he was in such a hurry for, and watched him pull into the lineup to get into Tim Hortons.




End all hockey fighting

Re: Off-ice education program doesn't go far enough, Feb. 13.

Want to eliminate off-ice hockey brawls? Eliminate the on-ice hockey brawls.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 18, 2014 A10

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