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WWI context misunderstood

The fact 33 per cent of respondents to the Aug. 5 Winnipeg Free Press online poll think the most important legacy of the First World War for Canada was it "solidified our democratic rights and freedoms" shows a significant lack of understanding of the conflict and the history of that period.

The motives for this war are much more closely linked to the clash of fervent nationalism and the imperial ambitions of all sides. At no time was our freedom or way of life threatened, nor did the Central Powers have any designs on them.

Canada fulfilled her duty to the British Empire heroically and effectively, but we were defending imperial interests, not freedom. German control of Belgium's Channel ports and concerns about the fate of the decaying Ottoman Empire and the route to India were at stake.

Canada was not a land of extensive human rights at the time. Women got the vote near the end of the war, mostly to ensure a Union victory and the passage of conscription through Parliament. Aside from that, we were still a land of draconian immigration laws and appalling discrimination against minorities, especially First Nations.

We should be proud of this period in our history, but perhaps we should strive to understand it better and not apply the absurd "freedom fighter" banner I can only assume we have somehow inherited from our friends to the south.

Gordon Fritzsche

Winnipeg

Immigration numbers game

In Focus should be on temporary foreign worker program (Aug. 2), Reis Pagtakan refers to the 5,000 limit set by Ottawa for total nominations of all skilled worker and business streams in the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP).

Manitoba's average annual international migration during the 10 years leading up to 1999, when the NDP took power, was only 4,440, below the 5,000 cap established by Ottawa. Since 1999, the NDP has gradually increased international immigration through the MPNP. In 2012, the MPNP accounted for more than 70 per cent of the 13,312 immigrant landings in Manitoba.

The NDP needs to offset some part of the nearly 20,000 Manitobans who leave for greener pastures every year. Additionally, the funds Manitoba receives as a "have-not" province from the federal/provincial revenue transfer program are dependent on population growth. Manitobans remember Finance Minister Jennifer Howard's revenue-motivated howls of protest about the 18,000 Manitobans "missing" from the census.

It's not surprising the NDP government had to take steps on Aug. 1 to manage its immigration quota to retain skilled foreign workers who are already here. The impending shortage of the trades represents the next excuse already in the making as to why Manitoba Hydro's capital expenditures will exceed estimates. This time, it will be the feds' fault.

Garland Laliberte

Winnipeg

Make speed signage clear

Susan Koppel writes "if you are old enough and mature enough to have a driver's licence, you are able to see the concept of a speed limit" (Tickets no cash grab, Letters, Aug. 5).

Perhaps our governments need to be clearer with signage on our highways. On Aug. 2, my wife and I drove north on Highway 59 and entered a construction zone at Highway 12, which extended 24 kilometres past the Grand Beach junction to just south of the Grand Pines Golf Course.

There were no construction workers, and large machines were parked for the long weekend. Many law-abiding drivers (including myself) reduced highway speeds to 60 km/h for the entire 24 kilometres, while others were anxious to pass, honking or giving me the finger when they had the opportunity to pass.

Perhaps the construction company should have covered their speed-regulating signs for that long weekend (as another company had done on the Perimeter Highway west).

Perhaps it was oversight, or perhaps it was indeed a "cash grab."

Harry McFee

Winnipeg

ñº

Well said, Susan Koppel. I too am tired of hearing about those who seem to think their opinion of a "safe speed" trumps the posted speed.

Bob Aldridge

Winnipeg

Hamas must heed R2P

Don Palmer is incorrect in his application of the UN's Responsibility to Protect policy (R2P) to Israel (Sounding off on Mideast, letters, Aug.5).

R2P requires the government has the primary responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. The occupation of Gaza by Israel ended in 2005, beginning self-rule by the Palestinian Authority.

Unfortunately in 2006, in their first general election, Gaza elected Hamas, who has held power ever since. Gaza, under the Hamas government, is exactly the situation described by R2P.

Article 139 of R2P states the international community has a responsibility to help protect populations when the state fails to do so. By targeting Israel in his letter, and not Hamas, Palmer is himself violating the spirit of R2P.

David Selch

Winnipeg

Lake Manitoba's downfall

During my early years of service with the RCAF in the early 1950s, I spent many wonderful summer weekends at my favourite place on Lake Manitoba -- Delta Beach (Another dying lake?, Editorial, Aug. 5).

Efforts to protect highly populated areas downstream of the Portage Diversion have adversely contaminated Lake Manitoba's waters.

Our provincial water experts in the 1970s did not perceive the waters of the Assiniboine would become phosphorus-polluted to the extent we now recognize, leaving Manitobans with yet another polluted lake to deal with.

John Fefchak

Virden

Religion found in church

The logic of John Longhurst in his article Lessons from a 'blasphemy' (Aug. 2) escapes me.

He writes, "Maybe the problem isn't that there are plays and movies that are offensive, sacrilegious or even blasphemous, but there aren't enough of them," and people are likely going to "encounter faith today... in places they actually frequent -- like theatres or fringe festivals."

In my lifetime, I have been in many non-religious situations, such as theatres and festivals, pubs, the military, and universities, and I cannot say I found truly uplifting discussions in matters of religion. I found religion eventually, and, strangely enough, in a place of religion -- the church.

I don't think people will find religion in blasphemous situations -- rather, I would think the religious seeker would in fact be turned away from religion.

Chris Kennedy

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2014 A10

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