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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

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Posted: 05/5/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 05/5/2014 7:40 AM | Updates


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Two sides to Dalnavert

Several letter-writers have been critical of the Manitoba Historical Society (MHS) for closing Dalnavert Museum. As an active member of the MHS council, a former president and a former chair of the Dalnavert management committee, I would like to add my perspective.

In 2005, we constructed a visitors' centre to host temporary exhibits as a stimulus for repeat visits and hired an eager young curator who developed numerous new programs and activities.

Regretfully, they did little to halt the downward trend in museum visits. Over the past eight years, attendance fell by 39 per cent and the important gift-shop revenue by 78 per cent.

For each Dalnavert visitor in 2012, the MHS paid over $100 in costs and received $10 back in admissions and sales. Adding to this dilemma was the recent loss of a large, single donation that had sustained the museum since its opening in 1974.

The MHS does many things beyond Dalnavert: We publish magazines, give awards to students for projects and essays about provincial history and present certificates to a diversity of businesses and organizations that have operated for over 100 years. We also operate Ross House Museum in Point Douglas.

Our website is comprised of some 18,000 pages of information about Manitoba's history. About 1,700 people visit the MHS website daily -- the same number that visit Dalnavert in one year.

As much as I would like the situation to be different, if tough financial decisions must be made, I believe it's more important to preserve the MHS than Dalnavert.




A choice between Candace House and Dalnavert Museum need not be made -- both organizations can co-exist, in separate buildings, and benefit the community.

Based on the information provided to the Friends by the MHS, the society never undertook any type of marketing or fundraising campaign for the museum. At no time did the MHS make any type of appeal to the public or heritage community for help.

Under new management, there is every possibility the museum would flourish, like Daly House in Brandon or Lougheed House in Calgary.

As soon as it was known last fall that the MHS wanted to permanently shut the museum's doors, concerned citizens have been working for a way to keep the Dalnavert Museum open.

Dalnavert could be reopened tomorrow as a museum; if retrofitted to serve another purpose, it would cost millions to establish a similar heritage museum, and the house's 19th-century features that have been preserved will be permanently and irretrievably lost to Canadians.


Friends of Dalnavert Museum


The end of pesticides

Re: The positives of pesticides (Letters, April 30). It's horrifying that the main point of our provincial government's proposed ban on cosmetic pesticide use continues to be lost on the pesticide industry: the health of our children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published its position on children and pesticide exposure in 2012. The studies cited -- yes, scientific ones -- showed elevated links to pediatric cancer and adverse neurodevelopment.

Call me an activist, but this mother doesn't consider those to be acceptable risks for any child, especially not for the unique purpose of "beautification of urban areas," as Ted Menzies puts it.




Pesticides are on the way out, and the people who would stand to benefit financially from pesticide production and application are understandably frustrated.

But there is now science to support that synthetic substances produced to impair insects also impair people and wildlife.

In fact, there is growing scientific evidence about the effects of pesticides on every level of the food chain -- and on human health. They are peer-reviewed and point to the need for policy change.

This is clearly not just an issue of moral judgment.




I'm sure none of us is surprised to hear Ted Menzies' opinion that pesticides ought not to be restricted, given that he makes his money selling and promoting pesticides.

It's also interesting how some science-based decisions can be accused of "bending to activist pressure," as opposed to the many decisions made based on industry-biased science.

Is industrial or corporate pressure in some way superior to the voices of educated and concerned citizens?

Thankfully, the Manitoba government has finally taken some small steps in the direction of sanity on this matter.




Filling Senate a tough task

Re: A different fix for Senate (Letters, May 1). The Senate should represent the best of Canada -- it should not be populated arbitrarily.

The legitimacy of the Senate's actions comes from the character of those who inhabit it. To populate it randomly risks this excellence and undermines the moral authority of senators.

We should not accept the idea that we can only expect politicians to fill this chamber with cronies and bagmen -- they work for us, and we must make it clear that this is not something we will tolerate.

Politicians can and should be judged by those they appoint to the chamber of sober second thought -- it reflects on the sort of perspectives they believe have value in Canada. We shouldn't try to make their job easier by taking this responsibility away from them.




Little to show in 15 years

Re: NDP rolls out child-care plan, bashes PCs (May 2). After 15 years in office, the NDP child-care plan, which won't be fully in place until four years after the next election, is rather late in the day and smacks of election panic rather than timely, socially concerned policy-making.

Similarly, after 15 years, the NDP has failed to provide the necessary long-term care-home beds needed to remove so-called bed-blockers from hospitals so emergency-room patients can be admitted in a timely manner.

Wait times for some surgeries continue to fail to meet patients' reasonable expectations, as do the times for emergency-room treatment.

After 15 years of a provincial NDP government, many Manitobans still can't find a general practitioner who will accept them as a patient.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 5, 2014 A8


Updated on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 7:40 AM CDT: Adds links

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