Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
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The sounds of science
Re: War on science seems a reality (May 1). The ad for Dr. Frank Plummer's replacement casts some doubt that the government is looking for someone of his stature to fill this position.
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In contrast to the contention of the spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose, it's not at all too early to judge efforts to fill this position. If indeed the desire was to search for an outstanding candidate, the position would have been widely advertised, not so restricted time-wise, and recommendations would have been sought from the scientific community in the first place.
Given the tone of the ad, the science community has reason to be concerned for the scientific leadership of this vital organization.
While I regularly read Dan Lett's column and appreciate his views, his piece on the replacement of Dr. Frank Plummer was outstanding.
Unfortunately, Stephen Harper's Conservatives think that a bureaucrat or a politician can run anything -- especially if it involves science.
Apparently most of them slept through their science classes in high school and have no idea what science is or what its importance might be to society as a whole.
I hope this publicity embarrasses those responsible for this new appointment into seeking someone with comparable qualifications to those of Dr. Plummer.
Re: Lab quietly seeks new boss (May 1). It's difficult to comprehend why federal ministers warrant double the pay scale and benefits of the individual following in the shoes of Dr. Frank Plummer.
One can only discern that Stephen Harper truly does have a war on science, environment and democracy. Somehow, Harper has concluded that instituting a questionable crime agenda and nixing a long-gun registry, is far more important than the solution to worldwide diseases.
Re: Lab needs superior leader (Editorial, May 2). It would appear that the Harper Conservatives' attack on science/scientists continues.
Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg is a world-class organization with a vital role in public health in our country and around the world.
The new person at the helm of this state-of-the-art facility should be of the same calibre as Dr. Frank Plummer, and the salary scale and qualifications for the position should reflect that.
Bombers' bad bus deal
Re: Blue's bus discount likely to pass: Katz (May 1). It's amazing that taxpayers may have to pay for fans transportation to see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
My daughter takes her toddler for many appointments at the Children's Hospital for a life-threatening condition. These appointments are not optional, and many families are in the same position.
Each time she goes, parking costs approximately $12 to $16. She doesn't look for handouts to pay for her parking.
If someone wants to go see the Bombers, they should pay their own way. How many years are taxpayers expected to pay? Will we next have to buy the beer and hotdogs too?
Re: Stadium to get transit discount (April 30). If the only way to operate professional sports teams in the city is to ask for concessions on taxes, travel, parking and insurance then there's something wrong with these organizations.
Faithful fans from outside the Perimeter Highway travel to the games every week and never complain about gas prices, parking fees and the concession prices for snacks and beer.
There isn't one good reason why buses to Winnipeg Blue Bombers games should be subsidized, while homeless people sleep on our pothole-filled streets and the housing allowance for welfare recipients remains unrealistically low.
Big savings flying from U.S.
Re: Fly away -- but do it here (May 1). I was interested in Barry Rempel's lament about Canadian travellers opting to drive south for cheaper airfares.
Apparently the problem with flights out of Canada is a $35 government surcharge per ticket, which is subsidized in the U.S.
A quick Internet search shows that a round-trip ticket to Phoenix costs $368 with Allegiant Air, $829 with WestJet, and $1,369 with Air Canada.
If a successful petition to the government would reduce Canadian fares by the $35 he quotes, Rempel would still have a long way to go in convincing the rest of us that we should fly out of Winnipeg.
Geoff Kirbyson's article speaks of a "fundamental difference" in cost structures between Canadian user-pay and U.S. tax-funded airports, resulting in a $25 to $35 per-ticket security fee being passed on to travellers utilizing Canadian airports.
A recent fare comparison showed flying out of Grand Forks to Orlando at $201 per person direct, as opposed to the lowest fare of $482 out of Winnipeg via Minneapolis.
The Winnipeg Airports Authority, along with the federal regulatory bodies and the airlines, need to do more in order to stem the flow of Manitoba travellers driving south to fly or Grand Forks will need to build a bigger airport.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2014 A14
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