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Respect for rule of law

Re: Harper plays for keeps (Editorial, May 3). Stephen Harper's attack on Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and the Supreme Court is deeply disturbing.

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Section 52 of the Constitution Act states: "The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect."

As a fundamental law, the Constitution is binding on everyone and every institution including not only Parliament but on the executive which, in Canada, consists of the prime minister and cabinet.

In a 1998 decision on Quebec's claim of a right to secede, a unanimous Supreme Court set forth the basic principles of our Constitution, including democracy, respect for minority rights and most importantly, "constitutionalism and the rule of law."

Nowhere has the relationship between executive and the judiciary been better explained than in a 1992 decision of Lord Justice Norton of the Judicial Committee of Britain's House of Lords: "The courts will respect all acts of the executive within its lawful limits and that the executive will respect all decisions of the courts as to what those lawful limits are."

The time has come for Canadians to take a stand in defence of constitutionalism and the independence of the judiciary.




Stephen Harper and his Conservative government act as "judge and jury" over our justice system, voters rights, old age security and scientific research.

They brag about their balanced budget, all the while taking Canada into such a deep democratic deficit, we will never dig ourselves out.




Steen headline disappointing

I was very disappointed to see the headline chosen for Mike McIntyre's article Ex-Jet Steen facing assault charge (May 7).

Not because of the charge itself (which may or may not be proven in court), but because of the Free Press's baffling decision that a long-ago NHL career deserved mention in the headline, but the fact the man is currently a member of city council did not.

McIntyre's article rightly mentioned Steen's place on city council in the first paragraph. He clearly understands this is an important story that could have implications in the upcoming election, not a puff piece about a previous decade's celebrity.

The headline writer, apparently, does not.




Search for science skills key

Re: Finding the best scientist (Letters, May 6). Gregory Taylor's letter reassures us the Public Health Agency of Canada now has an appropriate process in place for selecting a qualified scientist or medical professional to lead Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory.

Taylor then refers to federal funding of the costly remodelling of a building in Winnipeg for a new microbiology lab.

Although good facilities are important for technological work, it's misleading to suggest this is the type of expenditure needed to "advance important research in Canada."

The most important component is the formulation and testing of new ideas by skilled people.

Considering how many laboratories have lost operating funds, and how many senior science jobs are now gone, I wonder who will train the scientists our future economy will require.

The leadership choices governments make -- for public health and other agencies -- genuinely matter for the well-being of Canadians.




Upsides to light-rail transit

Re: Light-rail option a silly fiction for Winnipeg (May 6).

Modern light-rail transit is a mode of transportation that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 to 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, effectively bridging the gap between bus rapid transit and the minimum that justifies a metro.

BRT, unless guided or operating on its own guideway, is far inferior to modern LRT; if the BRT is guided or operates on a guideway, the cost of BRT nears that of light rail.

With LRT, one modern streetcar (with one driver) is as efficient as six buses (with six drivers). With about three employees needed to maintain and manage each vehicle, it's easy to see the savings that come with light rail.

But there's more. Modern LRT has proven to attract the all-important motorist from the car, something BRT has failed to do.

Today, BRT is being offered because it's the only type of transit that planners know.


Delta, B.C.


Pets have plenty of talent

Re: Pets of the week (May 6). It was reassuring to see the picture of Koa, the German shepherd, with the garbage can lid over his head.

It's nice to know that my cat is not the only animal out there capable of performing this feat.




Lack of action disrespectful

Re: Extremist threatens to sell kidnapped girls (May 6). Three weeks ago, the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped 300 girls from a school and are threatening to sell them as slaves, justifying their actions by referring to a "jihadi custom of enslaving women captured in a holy war." Their terrible sin: the pursuit of not just an education, but a sinful Western education. The international community finally expresses outrage, but otherwise has sat idly by.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 native women in Canada are either missing or dead, and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney refuses to call for an inquiry. Their crime: a lack of a support structure to help them cope with being mostly poor and uneducated.

In both cases, the lack of action points to society's general disrespect for women as well as to racial discrimination.




City roads a disgrace

In the 55 years I have lived in Winnipeg, I've never seen the roadways so littered. It is disgraceful. A trip down Lagimodiere Boulevard was disturbing -- cardboard, plastic bags, pop bottles, tin cans, paper, furniture and more strewn along the ditches. Any visitors to our city travelling this route would be of the impression we are slovenly pigs.

What has happened to our citizenship and pride that so much garbage has accumulated over the winter?



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2014 A12


Updated on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 8:47 AM CDT: Adds links

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