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Revisit CMHC's role

It's long past due the role of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. be revisited (Pull back support for mortgages, Editorial, June 18).

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The CMHC was created to stimulate the creation of new housing for returning Second World War service people with limited incomes. It is a for-profit corporation and a major source of general revenue for the federal government; in 2013 it earned close to $2.4 billion in after-tax profits from the sale of mortgage insurance, paying federal taxes of $584 million.

In the last decade, the CMHC has contributed more than $17 billion to the federal government's bottom line. It has lost sight of its original purpose -- to stimulate the creation of social and affordable housing for Canadians who cannot compete in the market.

The new CEO of the CMHC, Evan Siddall, breathed a whiff of hope into the housing crisis by stating his first six months on the job have been focused on building an organization that will be more flexible and transparent, and will do more to emphasize its social-housing role and less to subsidize the banks.

We can only hope this will happen; a significant influx of capital is exactly what the provinces need to maintain their existing social housing stock, build the new housing that they need today and establish concrete housing plans for the future.




Euthanasia divisive

Hendrik van der Breggen's commentary on physician-assisted suicide is terribly dishonest (Euthanasia holds nasty consequences, June 19). He tries to argue a secular basis for its continued prohibition, which is admirable in itself, but it's evident his pen is uncomfortably writhing with biblical injunctions.

One should at least disclose the reason for their beliefs when arguing for their cause. Van der Breggen exposes himself to Nietzsche's scything charge for Kant: he's a dissimulated Christian.

Like most Christians, he engages in the paternalist crusade to deny human beings the freedom of choice. This longing for a world where the will of the Father is law is toxic to democracy.

Why should Christians not be satisfied with the right to squeal about the immorality of the affair, and refuse to do it themselves? That surely is enough -- nothing is imposed upon them, and those with differing opinions can make use of their freedom of choice.

This is where religion becomes totalitarian: It isn't enough to have it for yourself -- you have to make it spread, like gangrene, until it infects the whole of society.





The anti-abortionists, along with Hendrik van der Breggen and others against euthanasia, roll out the same old argument -- that legalization of either "puts us on a slippery slope that embraces death as a solution" and "imposes a terrible burden on the vulnerable."

This is an assumption by them that no laws will be passed assuring certain criteria will have to be adhered to, and ensuring only the mentally competent terminally ill who request euthanasia will be granted their wish.

Van der Breggen advocates palliative sedation, "a strong dose of pain relief that renders a patient unconscious as the disease -- not the doctor -- kills the patient," as the more ethical and "moral high ground" for certain death rather than euthanasia.

This is a self-centred, conscience-clearing attitude with no regard for the terminally ill in a drug-induced stupor who may want to die with dignity. It embraces prolonging life that will result in certain pain and death as a solution, with no regard for the sufferer.





Hendrik van der Breggen's article was excellent. Several friends of mine have died from Alzheimer's or cancer; they died peacefully under medication to reduce their pain, not by euthanasia. I came away with the feeling of being somewhat comforted; they had died naturally, with their pain eased in their dying days.

It's the doctor's duty "to do no harm" -- what good has the doctor accomplished by the act of euthanasia except to get rid of someone who will die soon anyway?

Haste makes waste of a life. That's why palliative care, as described in the article, is the perfect solution for one who is terminally ill and in great pain.


Chris Kennedy



Destroy historical records

Re: The right to privacy forever? (Editorial, June 20). The National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba has asked for custody of the testimony and other records of residential school survivors. The archive says it will guarantee the privacy and confidentiality that was promised to survivors.

The Free Press indicates the intent, however, is that the information would be available to researchers and historians in the future, even in redacted form.

This is unacceptable. The testimony was provided for a specific purpose, with a guarantee of confidentiality.

Earlier governments of Canada victimized these people through the residential school system. The current government should keep the promise it made and destroy the records.

The courageous individuals who testified should not go to their graves worrying about whether their stories might become public.





Tax freeze reasonable

As a small-business owner, I am very excited Judy Wasylycia-Leis has promised to freeze small business taxes at their current levels (Appeal to small business, June 19).

I read some comments from people that her announcement means taxes will still go up, and I wonder if they've ever actually owned a business.

In the small-business world, a frozen tax rate means a business can plan for the future and know what to expect. My restaurant will benefit greatly from her plan, and each dollar I save I'll be able to re-invest in my business to make it better, and increase its value.

I'm pleased her approach is reasonable, and balances the needs of my business with the need of ensuring revenue is still generated for the city services my business relies on.




Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2014 0

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