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Pay attention, drivers!

To the driver in the black Ford Escape who flew through the pedestrian crossing by Kelvin High School: That was my 17-year-old daughter crossing.

I'm glad you missed her. I tried to catch your licence plate number but you were going so fast that was impossible. Was the call you were on with phone pressed to your ear that important?

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She would have really messed up your shiny paint job. By the way, she's a vivacious, popular 17-year-old who can be grateful that her dad saw you coming and was able to honk the horn so she stepped back, off the crosswalk. She otherwise would have missed going grad dress shopping on Saturday, or her improv show on Monday, or hosting the school coffee house on Wednesday, or her grandpa's 75th birthday coming up.

When will drivers in Winnipeg learn to put down their phones and slow down, in particular in school zones? The cost of this careless regard for others is becoming way too high. I would type more but my hands are shaking so much that I can barely get this out.




Don't farmers count?

It is a clear blow to farmers and Canadian democracy that the Supreme Court decided not to hear the farmers' appeal on whether the Conservative government had followed the law in abolishing the farmers' single-desk marketing system.

The Supreme Court usually hears cases of national importance. But look at the amazing number of farmer-related issues the Supreme Court apparently thought were not important: Over $200 million of assets farmers paid for were confiscated by the Conservatives without compensation; the minister defied a court decision but then hypocritically appealed that decision at the same time; the question of whether or not the minister of the day in fact had to follow the CWB Act.

And finally, what about the integrity of a minister who promised a vote by farmers before any move would be made on the single desk while he was campaigning and then changed his mind after the federal election?

Apparently none of these things are of national significance. I wonder what would happen if the Conservative government confiscated $200 million of Canadians' RRSPs. Would that be of national importance and deserve a Supreme Court hearing?


Emerald Park, Sask.


Religion at root

John Longhurst asks Why so much hunger, war, injustice in the religious world? (Feb. 9). I think this is a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

You won't find war and injustice committed in the name of atheists, humanists, deists or even people who call themselves spiritual. This is because it is a personal belief, or non-belief as it were, and very often void of dogma.

We find the bulk of the hunger war and injustice committed by the group of people that are called theists. Faith can lead people to do all kinds of things. Feed the hungry and care for the infirm, blow up fellow human beings, discriminate against homosexuals, or spit on young women for wearing T-shirts. When you rely on a belief system that requires no evidence, you can interpret your holy books to mean literally anything you want them to.

Faith is not a path to truth. Combine faith with a dogmatic belief system or what we commonly call religion, you can believe in the absurd and as Voltaire said "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

Now we have the answer to Longhurst's question.




Paltry median income

I have long suggested that taxes be raised for those receiving more than the median income. However, when I read in the Feb. 9 Free Press that the median for the top one per cent is $275,700 while that for the bottom 50 per cent in Winnipeg was $14,700, about 20 times less, I have revised my thinking about the median as the point above which the tax rate should increase.

Rather, the tax rate for poorer people may need to be lowered while that for the rich ought to increase more rapidly.

We know inequality costs money in health, teen pregnancy and child-care expenses. Likely we can save money by increasing taxes for some. Reducing our gifts to richer people would leave more money for the social programs that may reduce the costs now given to prisons and to health facilities.

We need a just distribution of the tax money and fewer charitable donations to sports facilities.




Making exceptions

Michael Zwaagstra (The myth of student styles, Feb. 11) is to be commended for breaking open the important pedagogical issue of learning styles. Zwaagstra's advocacy of a balanced approach to instruction, incorporating as many teaching/learning styles as appropriate to the subject is sound advice.

I do think, however, that it is important to consider that what may apply to the majority of students does not necessarily support those students on the margins; i.e. those whose psycho-educational profile suggests particularly strong (or weak) learning channels.

Consider the relationship between size of print and learning. For most students, the correlation between these two factors is likely to be quite low and of no real consequence for teaching. This is not the case, however, for a student whose vision is severely impaired.

Applying this type of reasoning to learning styles would go a long way towards confirming that all students benefit from balanced multi-modal teaching, while recognizing that for some students, a closer analysis of learning style could mean the difference between success and failure.




Lend a hand

After graders go by during snow clearing, they leave a ridge of rock-hard snow in front of driveways. The front-end loader clears peoples' driveways, but it does not clear loading zones for people who rely on Handi-Transit. I think it is time this rule was changed.

The rule as it currently stands states that if anyone in the household can shovel the front porch, they get no help clearing the loading zone, regardless of their ability to clear the hard-packed snow from the grader.

This rule is unfair, because the front-end loaders will clear the snow from everyone's driveways despite the ability of residents to clear snow from their front porch. However, people relying on Handi-Transit are left out in the cold, required to clear a wide space for the loading ramp.

I strongly suggest the rules be amended so that when the front-end loaders go by, clearing driveways, bus stops and fire hydrants, all people with loading zones for Handi-Transit also have these zones cleared.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 13, 2013 A10


Updated on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM CST: adds links

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