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Sentencing credit clarified

The editorial Pretrial custody law wanting (April 21) incorrectly states that the Truth in Sentencing Act allowed judges to grant up to a maximum 1.5-1 credit ratio only in "exceptional circumstances."

This is not the case. Rather, the act allowed for enhanced credit (beyond 1-1) "if the circumstances justify it." This is a subtle yet important distinction, and one the Supreme Court of Canada took into account in reaching their decisions -- even noting that Crown counsel had conceded circumstances "need not be exceptional."

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If the government does re-draft the legislation to remove loss of earned remission or statutory release as a circumstance justifying enhanced credit, it is likely the legislation would not survive a constitutional challenge.

Statutory release and earned remission mean nearly all offenders are released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. If this were not taken into account in awarding credit for pre-sentence custody, offenders who committed identical crimes and received identical sentences would serve different amounts of total time in jail depending on how much time was served pre-sentence.

It was to avoid this kind of unfairness that the 2-1 credit was abolished in the first place.




Even electoral playing field

Don Palmer's letter Pallister's stance principled (April 21) suggests private donations should be the basis on which a candidate or a government is elected.

What follows is that those with the most money to donate would have the advantage in electing the government of their choice.

To borrow a phrase from the famous criminal Al Capone, this ensures that the wealthy get the best government their money can buy.

Democracy can only work if all candidates are required to function with the exact same financial resources, as provided by government. This helps us avoid the situation we see south of the border, where democracy has long since vanished.




No excuse for baggage handlers

Re: Baggage handlers' drops defended (April 22). Once again, the union blames the employer, not the employee; spokesman Bill Trbovich said that workers are rushed to get the job done so the flight isn't delayed, and that the stairs the workers must walk up and down on are so steep, it would be dangerous to hurry down.

A few years ago in Winnipeg, a postal carrier was caught with thousands of undelivered envelopes and packages in the carrier's garage. The union's first response? That Canada Post was putting undue pressure on its carriers. I'm sure carrying heavy sacks of mail is in the job description of a mail carrier.

Air Canada isn't often in the right. But in this case the union needs to realize these particular workers are not only lazy, but also stupid -- the latter because they did this next to the terminal, where everybody has camera-equipped smartphones.




Cottagers subsidize province

While Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh is correct that my figures in Cottagers want answers (April 5) were inaccurate, he is wrong about the significance of the error and the meaning of the data (Cottage fees, April 21).

Our attempt to correctly state sources of revenue from cottagers was in error, but was what in tennis is called a "forced error" -- in the financial data the ministry provides on its website, nowhere is there any information on sources of revenue.

While we overstated the contribution of cottagers to government revenues, our main point stands: Cottagers still subsidize the province, with an excess of revenue over expenses to the government totalling over $1 million per year.


West Hawk Lake


Solution to divided city

Robert-Falcon Ouellette gets to the heart of what is needed in Winnipeg today (Reconciliation in a very divided city, April 22).

Mayor Sam Katz has acknowledged we live in a segregated city, but has done little to change that. The result: ongoing societal problems that affect everyone.

Ouellette is not calling for government handouts, but for people of all backgrounds to build a city we can enjoy living in together.

With mutual respect, each of us can play a part in making this happen.




Problems with PR

My response to Bill Rolls' original letter Anger over Fair Elections Act (April 15) regarding proportional representation (PR) was intended to question his belief that PR would minimize the presence of "professional" politicians in Parliament.

Whether PR operates on the basis of open or closed lists, those lists are inevitably drawn up by each party's establishment. Could any system in a western democracy be better designed to favour political careerism?

As for the prosperity of countries using PR, Rolls must surely be aware that it depends on more than any given electoral system (Coalition governments prosper, Letters, April 21).

For example, I recall being employed as an assistant English teacher in France in 1957-58 (where they had a PR system), and having to wait be paid after the end of October because, it was said, the money was still being printed.




Solving NHL concussions

If a player illegally causes another player to miss a certain number of NHL games due to a concussion, that penalized player should be suspended until the injured player can return to participate in regular games.

It seems unfair that the offender is suspended for a few games, while the injured player cannot return to the ice for large portions of the season or playoffs.

The penalized player should only return when the injured party is fully recovered. Maybe this would decrease the number of concussions in the NHL and end the ridiculous and inconsistent criteria used to determine how many games a penalized player is suspended.


East St. Paul

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2014 A8


Updated on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 7:16 AM CDT: adds links

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