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Political rebates divisive

The June 26 editorial Political rebates too rich borders on philistinism. At a time when many Canadians are seen to have turned their backs on democracy, the Free Press has issued a call for a cutback in financial support of candidates running in Winnipeg's municipal elections.

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This will prove popular with people who believe such financial matters should be left to the marketplace, as if pitching political ideas is no different from selling the latest digital gadgets.

If only that were true. The issue is democracy, and the overwhelming need for voters to hear the voices of contestants seeking office. For that to happen, an incentive is required and the current system of rebates, although imperfect, is one way of achieving that.

Any cutback would likely lead to fewer donations and thus hearing less from candidates, especially those whose supporters don't have deep pockets. That would be going in the wrong direction.

In an ideal democracy, all candidates would have matching financial resources and would duke it out for voter support by working hard and offering sound, well-communicated ideas. The latter takes real money; this is where taxpayer support, through the current rebate system, is crucial.




As this paper has noted, tax rebates and refunds for political contributions are a reasonable and measured means of engaging the electorate in the democratic process.

However, in the June 26 editorial, the Free Press has again exposed the imbalance in these universally applied pieces of federal, provincial and municipal legislation.

Laws which privilege political coffers at a more favourable rate than other charitable organizations and institutions provide the deductible funding -- monies now unavailable for public works and social programmes -- to bolster the political aspirations of those who have themselves written and authorized the self-serving laws.

The charity of choice for political parties and elected officials of all stripes and jurisdictions ought not be themselves. It's a pity that the first rule of public service has been so self-indulgently sidestepped.




Redwood's rich history

Where did Coun. Ross Eadie get the idea that the Redwood Bridge took its name from a red-roofed "general store that once stood nearby" (Eadie takes second shot at lauding Lazarenko, June 24)?

Its name came from the home, Redwood, built by William Inkster in 1857. This property, including a small brewery, was purchased by Edward L. Drewry in 1877. He expanded the brewery and by 1910 was listed as one of Winnipeg's 19 millionaires.

It's one thing to rename Water Avenue for William Stephenson; it's quite another to rename Machray Park or the Redwood Bridge.

This push to rename historical landmarks should stop. The history of the 20th century should not be used to supplant that of the 19th century.




Plotting plover's plight

While banning ATVs on the nesting areas left on Lake Winnipeg may be necessary to protect those few areas left for the piping plover, the real cause of their decline is poor water management on Lake Manitoba (ATVs banned to protect piping plovers, June 21).

Historically, Lake Manitoba beaches provided most of the habitat for this endangered species. However, after over a decade of record-high levels of water on the lake caused by the NDP's poor water management, the nesting habitat of the birds has been annihilated, virtually eliminating their presence around this lake.

Disaster years like 2011, combined with continued high water on the lake, have destroyed beach nesting areas and severely damaged the vulnerable beach ridges.

ATVs may contribute to the decline in the piping plover, but the real problem is continued high lake levels. The government has the management tools to keep these lakes at a reasonable level but isn't using them. They should deal with the real problem so the next generation has a chance to see the real piping plover, not a picture on a plaque in a plaza.


Progressive Conservative MLA,

Portage la Prairie


Pipes before polar bears

I find it ironic that the city applied for disaster assistance to the tune of $4.5-million to deal with the frozen-pipe issue at the same time it faces another cost overrun on the polar bear exhibit at Assiniboine Park (City seeks frozen-pipe aid, June 20).

Has the city purchased even one additional piece of equipment to deal with frozen waterlines? Their attitude regarding frozen pipes seems to have no sense of urgency.

Only last month the Winnipeg Free Press reported that council rejected the idea of borrowing thawing equipment from other cities. And yet again another capital project, this time of questionable value to anyone except polar bears, is found to be over budget -- and city council votes unanimously to fund it.




Enforce foreign-worker rules

The June 24 issue of the Free Press contained both an editorial (Give foreign workers more choice) and an opinion piece by Reis Pagtakhan (Changes to foreign worker program generally positive) about the federal government's recently announced changes to the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program.

Both articles go to great lengths describing the new initiatives brought forth by the feds, yet both fail to mention that the new strategies announced are basically the same rules that were in effect when the TFW program began, and are the same rules that the feds announced changes to only a few months ago.

All the changes announced look good on paper, but if the enforcement of the rules is as lax and as ineffectual as what we have witnessed over the last few years, there will be no improvement in the TFW program.

Improvement to the rules of the TFW program are needed, but so is enforcement.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 27, 2014 A12


Updated on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 6:35 AM CDT: Adds links

9:22 AM: Fixes amount city requested in disaster assistance.

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