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Sask. comparison problematic

In his Feb. 20 opinion piece NDP must explain $75-million sale, Deveryn Ross attempts to compare the Manitoba transfer agreement with the recent move by the Saskatchewan government to turn the Information Services Corporation from a publicly owned Crown corporation into a private company.

His comparison is problematic primarily because the two organizations are quite different. Saskatchewan's ISC is a larger organization that operates important services not involved in the transfer of Manitoba's property registry. Investors in the Saskatchewan share offering were also taking over the company's registry and a comprehensive geomatics and map service. These operations obviously would add significantly to the purchase price and make a simple comparison with the Manitoba transaction inappropriate.

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Ross also left out important financial details. In addition to the initial $75-million one-time payment for the Manitoba property registry, the transfer agreement also requires Teranet Manitoba to provide the province with annual royalties, starting at $11 million per year and projected to rise to $24.4 million per year. By contrast, the Saskatchewan government is receiving $4.8 million a year for its 31 per cent interest of annual dividends. The value of these ongoing revenue streams is ultimately more significant than the up-front purchase prices.

Beyond the financial benefits of the property-registry transfer, our agreement with Teranet Manitoba also ensures Manitobans will get better and faster services for reasonable rates. The agreement also provides protections against staff layoffs and rural property-office closures.


Minister of Finance


No easy answers in Li case

In a news release Friday, Shelly Glover says that granting Vince Li "additional freedoms, including unescorted trips into Selkirk, is an insult not only to the family of Tim McLean but to all law-abiding Manitobans." (Political combat over Li case, Mar. 1).

As a law-abiding Manitoban, I agree with the decisions made about Li based on his hearing and on the advice of professionals in the field of mental health.

Li was found not criminally responsible for the acts he committed. I see no reason why he should be locked up for the rest of his life.

The pain he feels from his mental illness and memory of the pain he caused others through his actions will no doubt be with him for the rest of his life.




I'm tired of Dan Lett labelling anyone who thinks Vince Li should not be given more freedom as lacking in compassion (Preaching vengeance wrong, Mar. 1).

I don't want Li released because of public-safety issues -- it has little to do with a lack of compassion or exacting punishment or vengeance.

Vince Li's schizophrenia caused him to commit an incomprehensibly brutal act, which has so far been successfully treated and managed with medication. And while this medication has seemingly been effective at treating his schizophrenia, there's no assurance he will continue taking it.

I'm an understanding, compassionate person. I feel sorry for Vince Li -- just like I feel sorry for any sick person, especially one afflicted through no fault of their own.

But until a potentially dangerous person such as Li can be closely monitored for the rest of his days to ensure medication is taken, he must be locked up.




Despite overwhelming evidence that people who have been found not criminally responsible (NCR) have a near-zero recidivism rate for violent crimes, the law-and-order folks in both the federal and Manitoba governments insist these people deserve no compassion, but rather more punishment.

Apparently catering to the base instincts of a minority of voters justifies ignoring empirical evidence while trampling the rights of those who have committed a violent act while being struck by a severe mental illness.

Dan Lett refers to the chronic underfunding of the mental-health system as one of the contributing factors of untreated severe mental illness. Currently, the Manitoba government spends an estimated mere five per cent of every health-related dollar on mental health. This is in contrast to the United Nations' recommended 12 per cent.

Maybe it's time to let evidence-based practice, rather than doctrine, govern policy.




Nygård's selfish pursuits

While one billion people in this world are malnourished, Peter Nygård spends millions of dollars on saving his precious self (Nygård uses stem cells to pursue immortality, Feb. 28).

The stem cell-injecting septuagenarian wants to continue dancing, playing volleyball and making even more money on the backs of his factory workers.

What kind of a world is it that Nygård is hoping to create?




City should heed bylaws

The article Swandel's backroom dealings with Shindico raises flags (Feb. 27) highlights city council's penchant for ignoring the planning and zoning departments they created to deal with development proposals. Winnipeg is a gateway to the west, not the Wild West.

The approval of a 24-storey tower at the old city pumping station is a prime example of how not to do business -- the architect on the project wasn't even registered to operate in Manitoba.

We can only guess how much development the city has missed because councillors do not feel bound by their own bylaws. They are undermining due process and make investors wary of dealing with a city that will not follow its own rules.




Pharmacy-fee discrepancy

In her letter to the editor, pharmacist Zoe Leslie defends the dispensing fees pharmacies charge outlining a list of services provided with each prescription filled (Pharmacy fees essential, Letters, Mar. 1).

No one is asking the pharmacist to stop charging for the essential services performed. Rather, the question is why some pharmacies charge more than others for the same service.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2014 A8


Updated on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 6:46 AM CST: adds links

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