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Debt of gratitude

Re: Taxman warns Mennonite mag (Nov. 10). As a priest at the Manitoba Buddhist Temple, I would like to voice my support for the Mennonite community in Winnipeg.

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First of all, during the internment of the Japanese-Canadians, the Mennonite people gave support to that community in many ways. Some of the elder members of our temple remember this support with fondness. We owe the Mennonite community a debt of gratitude.

Second, although we derive our values from a different theological perspective, we share many of the same values of compassion and peace. We also believe in expressing our faith in efforts to make our community a better place for all to live.

Any attempt to force us to abandon the expression of faith to better our community must be regarded as an attempt to prevent us from giving witness to the empathy that is due all people in all walks of life.

Neither the Buddhist nor Mennonite community coaches its members on voting. I am not sure what political parties the members of my congregation belong to, nor do I consider it any of my business. Still, we are called on to pay witness to the power of the same basic human decency that moves us all.






I'm just wondering which MP or MPs from the current federal government felt so threatened as to sic Revenue Canada on the magazine Canadian Mennonite and try to silence its so-called political activities by revoking its charitable status.

This magazine believes in peacemaking and compassion for the poor. Where is the threat?

It is probably the same MP or MPs who cut funding to KAIROS, Mennonite Central Committee, and Development and Peace and turned around to fund Canadian mining companies for their version of development in Third World nations.





Feeling a chill

In his Nov. 10 story No closed-door deal: Shindico, Bartley Kives provides an effective summary of the fire hall fiasco to date. But I felt a chill as I read the statement that the "finance committee has approved spending up to $500,000 for a pair of external audits."

How long will it be before we're told the consulting auditors have blown through the $500,000 and -- surprise! -- those at city hall responsible have neglected to negotiate a legally binding cap on the deal?





A better offer

Re: Amnesty's going great guns (Nov. 9). I would have paid Zelmir Krasovec at least $350 for such a pristine example of his classic and well-preserved Cooey rifle, still in the original box.

That rifle was built probably 50 years ago, had appreciated in value and still performed its function perfectly.





Funding education

In his Nov. 2 article So, why are we paying more school taxes? Here's why, Nick Martin is wrong when he says school divisions cover 41.1 per cent of the cost of public education. His figure is based on the total gross special levy of $832.9 million shown on page 49 of the FRAME (Financial Accounting and Reporting in Manitoba Education) report, divided by total school expenses of $2,026.6 million shown on page 3.

However, school divisions continued to receive $61.4 million in the tax incentive grant (this grant wasn't discontinued, it just wasn't increased this year), which reduced their total levy to $771.4 million. This is the amount (also shown on page 48) that is the total of all the school division levies that appeared on property owners' 2012 tax bills.

From that total, homeowners and renters benefit from an additional reduction of $297.3 million in the education property tax credit, comprised of $192.6 million taken directly off homeowners' tax bills and another $104.7 million that will be claimed, mostly by renters, on their 2012 income tax returns (landlords pay the school tax and pass it on to tenants in their rent).

There is also an additional $35.6 million claimed by farmers through the farmland school tax rebate and another $1.5 million given to low income seniors through the pensioners school tax assistance. Added together, these credits and rebates, all of which are shown in the provincial contribution on page i of the report, come to $335.9 million.

This reduces the 2012 special levy in the province to $437 million, which is 21.6 per cent of total education expenses -- about half the percentage Martin calculates.





All talk, no action

In 2011, under then police chief Keith McCaskill, the Winnipeg Police Service unveiled a multidisciplinary violent crime reduction strategy. Now I read your Nov. 8 story Girl's sex-assault-case tossed, about a man who was allowed to walk free after being charged with sexually assault because police took 18 months to serve him with a warrant. It wasn't as if the man was underground. He had been asked to come into the police station but on his lawyer's advice refused.

So tell me how this fits in with the umpteen-millionth police iteration of the vow to "get tough on crime, to "make our streets safe," to ameliorate our feelings in the city that crime is "out of control."

The next time Mayor Sam Katz and a police chief pose for a picture with brooms in hand in some media campaign to clean up the streets of Winnipeg, I hope they can answer the question on my mind and on the minds of others, including that victim's family. Where is the justice? And while getting tough with those who steal cars is admirable, I wish you would give more attention to getting tough with those who steal lives.






I am astonished by what people are taking out of the new chief of police's interview with a Christian magazine.

To say that the community needs prayer and action is really not such a bad thing. We need somewhere to turn; we need someone to trust in.

Prayer does not have to be an act only in which you pray to God. It can also be an act that brings a community together.

People should get a grip on themselves and learn to accept what is said for what it is rather than blow things way out of proportion.





Logic cuts two ways

Re: City threatens legal action against CUPE attack ad (Nov. 10). So Mayor Katz wants to sue the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 for lying? That's rich.

Using Katz's logic, city residents should take legal action against his worship himself. After all, during the election of 2010, I vividly recall mention of a pledge to keep property taxes frozen.




Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 14, 2012 A11

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