Carl DeGurse

Carl DeGurse

Senior copy editor

Carl DeGurse’s role at the Free Press is a matter of opinion. A lot of opinions.

He is a member of the Free Press editorial board that decides the newspaper’s stance on newsworthy issues. He writes some of the editorials, writes personal opinion columns and helps edit submitted opinion columns on the Think Tank page in the print edition and Analysis section online.

He tries to apply the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Recent articles of Carl DeGurse

Finding some good news amid all the bad

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Finding some good news amid all the bad

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Yesterday at 2:07 AM CDT

GRIM news abounds, including destructive hurricanes, a madman in the Kremlin who says he’s not bluffing about the possibility of using a nuclear weapon, and the ongoing evidence that the climate is warming toward a point that will endanger humans.

Not to downplay the seriousness of such issues, but there’s also plenty of encouraging news. A good place to look for uplifting reports is the frontier of technology, where scientists pursue breakthroughs that can improve our lives and might even help save our planet.

These heroes in white lab coats are our best hope that the human race can innovate its way out of trouble. Here are some examples of what the geniuses are working on:

COMMENDABLE CRASH LANDING

Yesterday at 2:07 AM CDT

GRIM news abounds, including destructive hurricanes, a madman in the Kremlin who says he’s not bluffing about the possibility of using a nuclear weapon, and the ongoing evidence that the climate is warming toward a point that will endanger humans.

Not to downplay the seriousness of such issues, but there’s also plenty of encouraging news. A good place to look for uplifting reports is the frontier of technology, where scientists pursue breakthroughs that can improve our lives and might even help save our planet.

These heroes in white lab coats are our best hope that the human race can innovate its way out of trouble. Here are some examples of what the geniuses are working on:

COMMENDABLE CRASH LANDING

Poor optics when police feel unsafe downtown

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Poor optics when police feel unsafe downtown

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Sep. 24, 2022

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce will try to promote a positive vision of the city’s core at a Tuesday luncheon presentation billed as State of the Downtown. The local police union shouldn’t expect an invitation to speak.

The Winnipeg Police Association has been on a high-profile campaign to describe, in alarming terms, that downtown is unsafe. How unsafe is it? So unsafe that police officers and civilian staff feel it’s too risky to walk between police headquarters at 245 Smith St. and their personal vehicles parked a block or two away.

WPA president Moe Sabourin said his association has tracked about 100 incidents linked to parking safety since 2015, including staff members and civilian police staff being threatened and chased into the building.

“Members have been stabbed, they’ve had firearms pulled on them and (people) attempted to shoot members,” said Sabourin.

Saturday, Sep. 24, 2022

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce will try to promote a positive vision of the city’s core at a Tuesday luncheon presentation billed as State of the Downtown. The local police union shouldn’t expect an invitation to speak.

The Winnipeg Police Association has been on a high-profile campaign to describe, in alarming terms, that downtown is unsafe. How unsafe is it? So unsafe that police officers and civilian staff feel it’s too risky to walk between police headquarters at 245 Smith St. and their personal vehicles parked a block or two away.

WPA president Moe Sabourin said his association has tracked about 100 incidents linked to parking safety since 2015, including staff members and civilian police staff being threatened and chased into the building.

“Members have been stabbed, they’ve had firearms pulled on them and (people) attempted to shoot members,” said Sabourin.

As child was hit, we all watched without intervening

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As child was hit, we all watched without intervening

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Sep. 17, 2022

None of us waiting in line with grocery carts at the Superstore on McPhillips Street envied the young mother whose child was throwing a tantrum.

The boy, about four years old, started screaming when his mother pried out of his hand a chocolate bar he had seized off a nearby rack. She tried talking — “No, we’re not buying that today, Liam” — but the boy continued hollering and repeatedly yelled, “You promised!”

The mother raised her voice — “Stop it now, Liam!” When the boy sat on the floor in passive protest and sobbed, she warned: “I’m going to start counting!” She counted backwards from five, slowly, allowing space between each number to give Liam time to change his behaviour. He didn’t.

With her left hand, she grabbed one of his arms and hoisted him in the air. With her right hand, she hit him on his bottom.

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2022

None of us waiting in line with grocery carts at the Superstore on McPhillips Street envied the young mother whose child was throwing a tantrum.

The boy, about four years old, started screaming when his mother pried out of his hand a chocolate bar he had seized off a nearby rack. She tried talking — “No, we’re not buying that today, Liam” — but the boy continued hollering and repeatedly yelled, “You promised!”

The mother raised her voice — “Stop it now, Liam!” When the boy sat on the floor in passive protest and sobbed, she warned: “I’m going to start counting!” She counted backwards from five, slowly, allowing space between each number to give Liam time to change his behaviour. He didn’t.

With her left hand, she grabbed one of his arms and hoisted him in the air. With her right hand, she hit him on his bottom.

Toppled statues should return

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Toppled statues should return

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022

The statues of British royalty that were toppled in Winnipeg remain hidden. They shouldn’t be. They should be brought back into the limelight, still in their damaged state, as symbols of an important public uprising in this city’s history.

In the same way the sculpture of a tilted streetcar across from city hall marks an important moment in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, the statues overturned on Canada Day, 2021, vividly represent a turning point in this province’s understanding of colonialism.

Provincial officials have said the statue of Queen Victoria won’t be restored; that much we know. It was dethroned from its plinth on the legislative grounds when protesters hauled it to the ground, covered it with red paint and threw its head into the Assiniboine River. A smaller statue of Queen Elizabeth II was pushed over, landing face down.

Fifteen months later, officials still won’t disclose the location of the damaged statues. Perhaps they’re keeping mum because they fear protesters with violent intentions might seek to enter the storage site to continue smashing the figures which, to them, represent colonialism.

Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Provincial officials have said the statue of Queen Victoria won’t be restored.

Recruiting doctors? Others don’t see it that way

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Recruiting doctors? Others don’t see it that way

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022

Manitoba needs more nurses and doctors, and one way of addressing the shortage is by luring medical professsionals who are trained in other countries. We call it “recruiting”; some others, however, prefer the term “poaching.”

“The poaching of doctors, nurses and pharmacists from sub-Saharan Africa by developed countries ought to be viewed as an international crime,” stated an editorial in the medical journal The Lancet.

The article, by a group of leading health researchers from Canada and other countries, said the active recruitment of doctors, nurses and pharmacists is “a violation of the human rights of the people of Africa.”

Although the editorial was published in 2008, the issue is more relevant than ever as the medical crises associated with COVID-19 have resulted in burned-out health staff, overcrowded emergency rooms and unacceptably long waits for people needing surgery such as knee and hip replacements.

Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022

Manitoba needs more nurses and doctors, and one way of addressing the shortage is by luring medical professsionals who are trained in other countries. We call it “recruiting”; some others, however, prefer the term “poaching.”

“The poaching of doctors, nurses and pharmacists from sub-Saharan Africa by developed countries ought to be viewed as an international crime,” stated an editorial in the medical journal The Lancet.

The article, by a group of leading health researchers from Canada and other countries, said the active recruitment of doctors, nurses and pharmacists is “a violation of the human rights of the people of Africa.”

Although the editorial was published in 2008, the issue is more relevant than ever as the medical crises associated with COVID-19 have resulted in burned-out health staff, overcrowded emergency rooms and unacceptably long waits for people needing surgery such as knee and hip replacements.

Faith communities propel upward mobility

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Faith communities propel upward mobility

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 29, 2022

Faith institutions are places to connect with the divine. But a massive new study finds they are also the best place to pursue upward mobility of the earthly variety.

A tendency for members of religious groups to befriend and help each other is highlighted in new research published this month in the peer-reviewed journal Nature. The study, titled “Social Capital: Determinants of Economic Connectedness,” began in 2018 with the goal of answering the question: can a social network help lift a person out of poverty?

Harvard University economist Raj Chetty and nearly two dozen other scholars worked with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) to sift through online accounts of the social relationships of more than 70 million users.

The massive amount of data — it’s regarded as the most comprehensive study ever done on the topic — found people’s social connections largely determine the chance of upward mobility. In other words, successful friends matter.

Monday, Aug. 29, 2022

Faith institutions are places to connect with the divine. But a massive new study finds they are also the best place to pursue upward mobility of the earthly variety.

A tendency for members of religious groups to befriend and help each other is highlighted in new research published this month in the peer-reviewed journal Nature. The study, titled “Social Capital: Determinants of Economic Connectedness,” began in 2018 with the goal of answering the question: can a social network help lift a person out of poverty?

Harvard University economist Raj Chetty and nearly two dozen other scholars worked with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) to sift through online accounts of the social relationships of more than 70 million users.

The massive amount of data — it’s regarded as the most comprehensive study ever done on the topic — found people’s social connections largely determine the chance of upward mobility. In other words, successful friends matter.

Too soon to turn off the summer-fun tap

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Too soon to turn off the summer-fun tap

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022

Among the iconic sounds of summer are the squeals and shouts of kids playing in public pools and spray pads. That’s what fun sounds like.

Such joyful noise was silenced throughout Winnipeg this week as the city began turning off the taps at outdoor public facilities earlier than in past years. Consequently, many kids who showed up at their neighbourhood pool eager for a day of water excitement with their friends could only stand outside the chain-link fence that surrounds the empty pool or pad and wonder: why did they close it when there’s still lots of summer to go?

If you’re a big person, it might not seem like a big deal. But for kids, it surely seems wrong to close pools and spray pads while the weather is still hot and school doesn’t resume until Sept. 7. Then again, no one asked the kids.

It’s all about money, according to the city officials who decided 19 of the city’s 79 wading pools wouldn’t open at all this summer, and the water facilities that did open would close sooner than in summers past. Perhaps the budget for pools and spray pads was targeted because they’re used mostly by kids, who are easy to pick on.

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022

Among the iconic sounds of summer are the squeals and shouts of kids playing in public pools and spray pads. That’s what fun sounds like.

Such joyful noise was silenced throughout Winnipeg this week as the city began turning off the taps at outdoor public facilities earlier than in past years. Consequently, many kids who showed up at their neighbourhood pool eager for a day of water excitement with their friends could only stand outside the chain-link fence that surrounds the empty pool or pad and wonder: why did they close it when there’s still lots of summer to go?

If you’re a big person, it might not seem like a big deal. But for kids, it surely seems wrong to close pools and spray pads while the weather is still hot and school doesn’t resume until Sept. 7. Then again, no one asked the kids.

It’s all about money, according to the city officials who decided 19 of the city’s 79 wading pools wouldn’t open at all this summer, and the water facilities that did open would close sooner than in summers past. Perhaps the budget for pools and spray pads was targeted because they’re used mostly by kids, who are easy to pick on.

Double-double trouble in the workforce

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Double-double trouble in the workforce

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

One of the most peculiar encounters of our summer has been at a Tim Hortons outlet in Wawa, Ont., of all places. It confirmed for us the gravity of the labour shortage in Canada’s retail sector.

My wife and I had overnighted in a motel in this town of 3,000 people in the wilderness of northern Ontario and, before resuming our journey in the morning, we walked to a nearby Hortons, where about eight vehicles waited in line at a drive-thru.

We tried to enter the restaurant for coffee but a woman wearing a badge that said “manager” blocked the entrance.

“Sorry, no indoor service. We can’t hire enough staff to work the counter,” she said. “You can use the drive-thru.”

Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

One of the most peculiar encounters of our summer has been at a Tim Hortons outlet in Wawa, Ont., of all places. It confirmed for us the gravity of the labour shortage in Canada’s retail sector.

My wife and I had overnighted in a motel in this town of 3,000 people in the wilderness of northern Ontario and, before resuming our journey in the morning, we walked to a nearby Hortons, where about eight vehicles waited in line at a drive-thru.

We tried to enter the restaurant for coffee but a woman wearing a badge that said “manager” blocked the entrance.

“Sorry, no indoor service. We can’t hire enough staff to work the counter,” she said. “You can use the drive-thru.”

Transit drivers deserve a safe workplace

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Transit drivers deserve a safe workplace

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act requires employers to protect the safety of its workers. Winnipeg Transit employees can be excused for scoffing.

The latest in a spree of violent attacks on bus drivers occured last Sunday, when a passenger thought to be intoxicated tried to stab the driver by reaching around the plastic shield that partially surrounds the operator’s seat. The knife came within inches of the driver, who warned passengers to flee before he himself squeezed out through a side window.

The incident was alarming, but unsurprising. A spokesperson for the bus operators’ union said since June, the union has recorded 16 assaults against drivers. That doesn’t include violence between passengers or at bus shelters.

Who among us would tolerate a workplace with such a high risk of being attacked?

Saturday, Jul. 30, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Transit has hired more inspectors, who wear body armour and are trained to de-escalate confrontations. It’s unclear how many inspectors there are, or which routes they ride, but they’re obviously doing an inadequate job.

A key question in the abortion debate

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A key question in the abortion debate

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Jul. 9, 2022

As a man, I offer an opinion on abortion only with caution. I understand and respect the views of women on this controversial issue because, after all, it’s inside their bodies that babies grow.

But I hope I can be allowed to contribute to the conversation with an experience that is deeply personal. I will share this disclosure from my past, hoping it will illustrate a crucial aspect of the abortion debate that is often overlooked.

My true story begins with a high-school romance between Debbie and Bill. Their relationship continued after graduation and, when they were 19 years old, they became pregnant. Abortion wasn’t considered, partly because of the Roman Catholic beliefs of the family in which Debbie was raised.

Instead of abortion, they “did the right thing,” as it was called back then, and they got married when they were three months pregnant. Pregnant with me, that is. I was born six months after my parents wed.

Saturday, Jul. 9, 2022

As a man, I offer an opinion on abortion only with caution. I understand and respect the views of women on this controversial issue because, after all, it’s inside their bodies that babies grow.

But I hope I can be allowed to contribute to the conversation with an experience that is deeply personal. I will share this disclosure from my past, hoping it will illustrate a crucial aspect of the abortion debate that is often overlooked.

My true story begins with a high-school romance between Debbie and Bill. Their relationship continued after graduation and, when they were 19 years old, they became pregnant. Abortion wasn’t considered, partly because of the Roman Catholic beliefs of the family in which Debbie was raised.

Instead of abortion, they “did the right thing,” as it was called back then, and they got married when they were three months pregnant. Pregnant with me, that is. I was born six months after my parents wed.

Public memorial would honour COVID-19 casualties

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Public memorial would honour COVID-19 casualties

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

There’s a deep human need to do right by our dead, an imperative often prevented by COVID-19.

Many Manitobans who passed on during the pandemic died alone. In their final hours, as they faced the daunting prospect of transitioning to whatever lies beyond this earthly realm, they were denied a loving sendoff from family and friends, who were kept away from personal-care homes, hospitals and private homes by restrictions on in-person gatherings.

It’s also been hard on the survivors, who were barred from the social rituals our culture has developed to process the trauma of death, such as visting the funeral home to view the laid-out body, sharing tearful hugs with the grieving family, and attending funerals where eulogies extol the virtues of the deceased.

It’s as if we still owe something to the Manitobans who died of COVID-19, that we need a creative way to honour them with due reverence.

Saturday, Jul. 2, 2022

There’s a deep human need to do right by our dead, an imperative often prevented by COVID-19.

Many Manitobans who passed on during the pandemic died alone. In their final hours, as they faced the daunting prospect of transitioning to whatever lies beyond this earthly realm, they were denied a loving sendoff from family and friends, who were kept away from personal-care homes, hospitals and private homes by restrictions on in-person gatherings.

It’s also been hard on the survivors, who were barred from the social rituals our culture has developed to process the trauma of death, such as visting the funeral home to view the laid-out body, sharing tearful hugs with the grieving family, and attending funerals where eulogies extol the virtues of the deceased.

It’s as if we still owe something to the Manitobans who died of COVID-19, that we need a creative way to honour them with due reverence.

For this family, ‘serve and protect’ sounds right

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For this family, ‘serve and protect’ sounds right

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022

THERE seems to be a rise in recent years of people slagging Winnipeg police as racist and unnecessarily brutal. Some protests have even demanded the police service be defunded.

Bob and Cathy Stewart are aware from news reports of growing hostility toward police but, when they were awoken this week by a violent man who was high on meth and smashing the windows of their home, they had a first-hand opportunity to judge police action for themselves.

By the time police arrested the home invader — they found him naked, lying in a puddle of standing water in nearby bush — the Stewarts had high praise for the sensitivity police showed in quelling the crisis.

“There’s not enough good adjectives to describe their high level of professionalism,” Bob said in a conversation.

Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022

THERE seems to be a rise in recent years of people slagging Winnipeg police as racist and unnecessarily brutal. Some protests have even demanded the police service be defunded.

Bob and Cathy Stewart are aware from news reports of growing hostility toward police but, when they were awoken this week by a violent man who was high on meth and smashing the windows of their home, they had a first-hand opportunity to judge police action for themselves.

By the time police arrested the home invader — they found him naked, lying in a puddle of standing water in nearby bush — the Stewarts had high praise for the sensitivity police showed in quelling the crisis.

“There’s not enough good adjectives to describe their high level of professionalism,” Bob said in a conversation.

We could all use a bit of good news

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We could all use a bit of good news

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Jun. 11, 2022

AN acquaintance says she’s decided to stop consuming news because it’s a downer. She aims to avoid all mainstream media and build herself an information bunker that will admit only literature, music and television broadcasting that is uplifting.

I respect her right to shape her world view — we all need to heed our mental health — but perhaps her strategy is too extreme if she cuts herself off from positive news stories that offer hope and encouragement. Here are examples of heartening news items she would miss:

AN ELECTRIC FUTURE — The widespread adoption of electric vehicles seems to be more promising.

Two separate developments week combined to make the economics of the EV option more compelling. First, the price of gasoline soared, to more than $2 a litre in Winnipeg. Second, the sticker price of some EVs seems to be falling, at least in the U.S.

Saturday, Jun. 11, 2022

AN acquaintance says she’s decided to stop consuming news because it’s a downer. She aims to avoid all mainstream media and build herself an information bunker that will admit only literature, music and television broadcasting that is uplifting.

I respect her right to shape her world view — we all need to heed our mental health — but perhaps her strategy is too extreme if she cuts herself off from positive news stories that offer hope and encouragement. Here are examples of heartening news items she would miss:

AN ELECTRIC FUTURE — The widespread adoption of electric vehicles seems to be more promising.

Two separate developments week combined to make the economics of the EV option more compelling. First, the price of gasoline soared, to more than $2 a litre in Winnipeg. Second, the sticker price of some EVs seems to be falling, at least in the U.S.

Pothole archeologist alarmed by decaying roads

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Pothole archeologist alarmed by decaying roads

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Jun. 4, 2022

Most of us see a pothole as something to dodge. Douglas Fisher studies it like a pavement archeologist. He examines the gritty texture of the aggregate around the edges of a hole, and it speaks to him about why it crumbled. He’s like a pothole whisperer.

In our conversation this week, Fisher came across as understated, a man who is cautious about his opinions — until the topic turned to the dismal condition of Winnipeg roads.

“I know asphalt. I studied asphalt. There are ways to design a mix that’s better for the roads in this climate,” he said.

Fisher’s career included 37 years with the Manitoba highways department, helping develop the best possible mix of pavement aggregate. He retired as the manager of engineering audit and quality assurance. When he offers an informed suspicion about why roads in Winnipeg are decaying faster than ever, he has street cred (please excuse the pun).

Saturday, Jun. 4, 2022

Douglas Fisher says coarse asphalt mixes are much more susceptible to aggregate loss in freeze/thaw conditions than finer mixes. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Gender-neutral washrooms create challenges

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Gender-neutral washrooms create challenges

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, May. 28, 2022

THE concert at the West End Cultural Centre was good, but even more memorable was an encounter in the public washroom during intermission. I emerged from a stall and did a double-take. There was a woman in the room.

The washroom had been designated for males during my past visits to the West End and I hadn’t noticed the sign on the door had been changed. On that night, the washroom was gender neutral.

I felt surprised by her presence and, to be honest, somewhat uneasy. The washroom is small, and we were the only two occupants. At the sink to wash my hands, we were almost shoulder to shoulder. She was leaning close to the mirror and applying a black tar-like substance to her eyelashes with a small stick with a bristly tip.

I felt inclined to acknowledge her presence because we were so physically close that our sleeves almost touched. To be well inside her personal space and to ignore her might make her feel insulted, as if she didn’t exist. I didn’t want to snub her but, also, I didn’t want to say anything that could be construed as creepy.

Saturday, May. 28, 2022

THE concert at the West End Cultural Centre was good, but even more memorable was an encounter in the public washroom during intermission. I emerged from a stall and did a double-take. There was a woman in the room.

The washroom had been designated for males during my past visits to the West End and I hadn’t noticed the sign on the door had been changed. On that night, the washroom was gender neutral.

I felt surprised by her presence and, to be honest, somewhat uneasy. The washroom is small, and we were the only two occupants. At the sink to wash my hands, we were almost shoulder to shoulder. She was leaning close to the mirror and applying a black tar-like substance to her eyelashes with a small stick with a bristly tip.

I felt inclined to acknowledge her presence because we were so physically close that our sleeves almost touched. To be well inside her personal space and to ignore her might make her feel insulted, as if she didn’t exist. I didn’t want to snub her but, also, I didn’t want to say anything that could be construed as creepy.

What’s good for the goose … is no longer the question

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What’s good for the goose … is no longer the question

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, May. 7, 2022

THE comeback of Canada geese from near-extinction has been remarkably successful. In fact, it’s been too successful.

In an appropriate environment, geese are magnificant birds. To watch them from a site such as Oak Hammock Marsh is to marvel at their natural beauty as they ride the wind currents in V-shaped formation, outstretched necks honking their throaty exclamations.

In Winnipeg, though, they’ve become urban pests, soiling parks and playgrounds with excrement, hissing aggressively at people who walk near their nests and creating a traffic hazard as they plod obliviously on roads.

I generally believe we should co-exist peacefully with wildlife including geese, live and let live. The exception is when wildlife poses a danger.

Saturday, May. 7, 2022

THE comeback of Canada geese from near-extinction has been remarkably successful. In fact, it’s been too successful.

In an appropriate environment, geese are magnificant birds. To watch them from a site such as Oak Hammock Marsh is to marvel at their natural beauty as they ride the wind currents in V-shaped formation, outstretched necks honking their throaty exclamations.

In Winnipeg, though, they’ve become urban pests, soiling parks and playgrounds with excrement, hissing aggressively at people who walk near their nests and creating a traffic hazard as they plod obliviously on roads.

I generally believe we should co-exist peacefully with wildlife including geese, live and let live. The exception is when wildlife poses a danger.

Many motivations behind letters to the editor

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Many motivations behind letters to the editor

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Apr. 30, 2022

THE regular writers of letters to the editor obviously agree on the importance of a vigorous public conversation on important issues. Other than that, they disagree on almost everything.

Right wing or left wing, confrontational or conciliatory, heartfelt or headstrong, they are an eclectic bunch who care enough about our community to speak out and put their name to their views.

Why do they bother? What sort of reaction do their published letters get from their friends and family?

We asked those questions of a sample of writers who submit letters consistently. Many responded with lengthy, eloquent answers. Here are some excerpts:

Saturday, Apr. 30, 2022

THE regular writers of letters to the editor obviously agree on the importance of a vigorous public conversation on important issues. Other than that, they disagree on almost everything.

Right wing or left wing, confrontational or conciliatory, heartfelt or headstrong, they are an eclectic bunch who care enough about our community to speak out and put their name to their views.

Why do they bother? What sort of reaction do their published letters get from their friends and family?

We asked those questions of a sample of writers who submit letters consistently. Many responded with lengthy, eloquent answers. Here are some excerpts:

Skipping question period is not the answer

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Skipping question period is not the answer

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Apr. 23, 2022

CAN we really blame Premier Heather Stefanson for dodging three recent question periods? Which of us would choose to attend a place where we would be taunted and belittled?

Sadly, the important democratic tradition of question period occasionally descends into a fracas where the “honourable members” stoop to hollering and jeering of a type that would get school children sentenced to a timeout in the principal’s office.

Take, for example, the ruckus in the legislature on April 13 when the provincial budget was tabled. The heckling got so bad that Speaker Myrna Driedger was ignored as she called for order and repeatedly urged the MLAs to stop bickering. She might as well have told the wind to stop blowing.

“Democracy will only happen if all of us respect each other in here and bring forward our ideas carefully and listen to them carefully,” she reminded them. The MLAs then heckled the Speaker.

Saturday, Apr. 23, 2022

CAN we really blame Premier Heather Stefanson for dodging three recent question periods? Which of us would choose to attend a place where we would be taunted and belittled?

Sadly, the important democratic tradition of question period occasionally descends into a fracas where the “honourable members” stoop to hollering and jeering of a type that would get school children sentenced to a timeout in the principal’s office.

Take, for example, the ruckus in the legislature on April 13 when the provincial budget was tabled. The heckling got so bad that Speaker Myrna Driedger was ignored as she called for order and repeatedly urged the MLAs to stop bickering. She might as well have told the wind to stop blowing.

“Democracy will only happen if all of us respect each other in here and bring forward our ideas carefully and listen to them carefully,” she reminded them. The MLAs then heckled the Speaker.

Manitoba sounding the feral-boar alarm

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Manitoba sounding the feral-boar alarm

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Apr. 16, 2022

THE governments of Saskatchewan and Alberta have in the past month taken steps to stop wild pigs from running rampant. It’s incumbent on Manitoba to do as much.

The feral boars are causing great damage in Manitoba, the Manitoba Pork annual meeting on April 8 was told by wild-pig expert Ryan Brook. He called them “the single most successful invasive large mammal on the planet.”

“There are no predators, they are insanely aggressive, they eat just about anything and they keep going all year,” said Brooks, a University of Saskatchewan animal science professor.

Such porcine pronouncements might seem exaggerated to Manitobans who have never personally encountered a wild pig. Perhaps some skeptics believe reported sightings should be accorded the same credibility as reports of mythical creatures such as Sasquatch and unicorns.

Saturday, Apr. 16, 2022

CANADIAN PRESS PHOTO
Wild boars are thriving in wooded areas of Manitoba and may soon infiltrate Riding Mountain National Park, experts fear.

Pothole advice creates sinking feeling

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Pothole advice creates sinking feeling

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Apr. 9, 2022

I KNOW I speak for many Winnipeggers when I express gratitude to Manitoba Public Insurance for its oft-repeated advice: “Drive to road conditions.” Never would we have thought of that on our own.

The current condition of Winnipeg roads has been compared to roads found in a war zone that was recently shelled. Some people say that’s an understatement.

As we dodge potholes, gaping crevices and crumbling pavement, Winnipeg drivers are forced to weave back and forth, sometimes drifting out of our lanes. Makes it hard to tell whether zigzagging motorists are driving to road conditions, or are intoxicated.

Thank goodness we have the driving experts at MPI to edify us. In search of more detailed wisdom, I checked MPI’s website and found further gems of enlightment about potholes. I decided to go for a drive and follow MPI’s specific advice.

Saturday, Apr. 9, 2022

I KNOW I speak for many Winnipeggers when I express gratitude to Manitoba Public Insurance for its oft-repeated advice: “Drive to road conditions.” Never would we have thought of that on our own.

The current condition of Winnipeg roads has been compared to roads found in a war zone that was recently shelled. Some people say that’s an understatement.

As we dodge potholes, gaping crevices and crumbling pavement, Winnipeg drivers are forced to weave back and forth, sometimes drifting out of our lanes. Makes it hard to tell whether zigzagging motorists are driving to road conditions, or are intoxicated.

Thank goodness we have the driving experts at MPI to edify us. In search of more detailed wisdom, I checked MPI’s website and found further gems of enlightment about potholes. I decided to go for a drive and follow MPI’s specific advice.

Prayerful moments produce positive results

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Preview

Prayerful moments produce positive results

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Apr. 2, 2022

CITY council was criticized this week for opening its meetings with a time of prayer. Let’s hope councillors don’t bow to pressure and end the tradition. Winnipeg needs more prayer, not less.

A report by the British Columbia Humanist Association said Winnipeg council is violating the state’s duty of neutrality and the rights of the non-religious who might attend.

Judging by the criticism, it seems likely none of the B.C. humanists actually attended a Winnipeg council session before slagging it. Council has a definition of prayer that is commendably elastic.

The responsibility for council’s prayerful opening rotates among councillors. Some pray through the lens of their personal faith, but others offer secular meditations, poetry, inspirational thoughts or song. According to Mayor Brian Bowman, “It is a moment of unity for council before sometimes we get into very divisive discussions and debates.”

Saturday, Apr. 2, 2022

CITY council was criticized this week for opening its meetings with a time of prayer. Let’s hope councillors don’t bow to pressure and end the tradition. Winnipeg needs more prayer, not less.

A report by the British Columbia Humanist Association said Winnipeg council is violating the state’s duty of neutrality and the rights of the non-religious who might attend.

Judging by the criticism, it seems likely none of the B.C. humanists actually attended a Winnipeg council session before slagging it. Council has a definition of prayer that is commendably elastic.

The responsibility for council’s prayerful opening rotates among councillors. Some pray through the lens of their personal faith, but others offer secular meditations, poetry, inspirational thoughts or song. According to Mayor Brian Bowman, “It is a moment of unity for council before sometimes we get into very divisive discussions and debates.”

Foolhardy to resume use of lawn pesticides

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Preview

Foolhardy to resume use of lawn pesticides

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Mar. 26, 2022

THREE households in my neighbourhood stand out for separate reasons that are all admirable.

One has an electric vehicle plugged in outside its home. The family obviously has the courage of its conviction to make the switch while most of us agree in principle but remain hesitant.

A second household includes a mother who goes to great lengths to reduce the family’s environmental footprint. She brings her own cup to coffee shops, her family wears bulky sweaters indoors in winter to allow a lower thermostat, and she buys food from bulk bins when possible, bringing her own containers. She behaves boldly in supermarkets, where, shunning the plastic-and-foam packaging on meat, she barges through the swinging doors that say “No admittance” to sweetly ask the butchers to cut the portion she wants and put it in a container she brought from home.

A third commendable household has over the past few years gradually eliminated its lawn. The home is now fronted by an attractive presentation of river-rock paths, trees centred in beds of large wood chips and shrubs native to the Canadian Prairie.

Saturday, Mar. 26, 2022

THREE households in my neighbourhood stand out for separate reasons that are all admirable.

One has an electric vehicle plugged in outside its home. The family obviously has the courage of its conviction to make the switch while most of us agree in principle but remain hesitant.

A second household includes a mother who goes to great lengths to reduce the family’s environmental footprint. She brings her own cup to coffee shops, her family wears bulky sweaters indoors in winter to allow a lower thermostat, and she buys food from bulk bins when possible, bringing her own containers. She behaves boldly in supermarkets, where, shunning the plastic-and-foam packaging on meat, she barges through the swinging doors that say “No admittance” to sweetly ask the butchers to cut the portion she wants and put it in a container she brought from home.

A third commendable household has over the past few years gradually eliminated its lawn. The home is now fronted by an attractive presentation of river-rock paths, trees centred in beds of large wood chips and shrubs native to the Canadian Prairie.

Seeking a more compassionate alternative

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Preview

Seeking a more compassionate alternative

Carl DeGurse 4 minute read Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022

LET’S think the best of Winnipeg authorities and ascribe honorable intentions to their reluctance to evict bus-shelter squatters.

The officials likely feel compassion for people who feel their best option is to stay outdoors during the winter. Who doesn’t? We all feel sorry for anyone who has to spend nights in temperatures that are dangerously cold.

The prevailing rationale seems to be respecting the rights of squatters to make their own decisions, even when they refuse frequent invitations to come in from the cold and sleep in institutional shelters where, at a minimum, they can rest on mats in a place that is warm.

There’s also the Indigenous factor, an area of particular sensitivity in Winnipeg. Many of the squatters appear to be Indigenous, and their life choices are often related to generational dysfunction rooted in shameful colonial measures such as residential schools.

Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022

LET’S think the best of Winnipeg authorities and ascribe honorable intentions to their reluctance to evict bus-shelter squatters.

The officials likely feel compassion for people who feel their best option is to stay outdoors during the winter. Who doesn’t? We all feel sorry for anyone who has to spend nights in temperatures that are dangerously cold.

The prevailing rationale seems to be respecting the rights of squatters to make their own decisions, even when they refuse frequent invitations to come in from the cold and sleep in institutional shelters where, at a minimum, they can rest on mats in a place that is warm.

There’s also the Indigenous factor, an area of particular sensitivity in Winnipeg. Many of the squatters appear to be Indigenous, and their life choices are often related to generational dysfunction rooted in shameful colonial measures such as residential schools.

Athletes have a right to ask questions, too

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Preview

Athletes have a right to ask questions, too

Carl DeGurse 5 minute read Saturday, Mar. 5, 2022

WINNIPEG Jets forward Paul Stastny has no need for an assist from me when his linemates include able puck-passers such as Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, but I support the way Stastny acted this week away from the rink.

He miffed many Manitobans by favoring protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Some people offered public opinions that Stastny should stick to hockey.

Regardless of whether we agree with his views on the “freedom convoy” — and I don’t — the occasion of an athlete speaking on a controversial public issue offers a made-in-Manitoba chance to consider the weight we grant the opinions of celebrities.

Were Stastny a mechanic at the corner garage instead of a Jet in a hockey-mad province, his political opinion wouldn’t grab headlines. The Jets jersey comes with great privilege, but Stastny did not misuse it. In fact, I would argue he acted with integrity.

Saturday, Mar. 5, 2022

WINNIPEG Jets forward Paul Stastny has no need for an assist from me when his linemates include able puck-passers such as Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, but I support the way Stastny acted this week away from the rink.

He miffed many Manitobans by favoring protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Some people offered public opinions that Stastny should stick to hockey.

Regardless of whether we agree with his views on the “freedom convoy” — and I don’t — the occasion of an athlete speaking on a controversial public issue offers a made-in-Manitoba chance to consider the weight we grant the opinions of celebrities.

Were Stastny a mechanic at the corner garage instead of a Jet in a hockey-mad province, his political opinion wouldn’t grab headlines. The Jets jersey comes with great privilege, but Stastny did not misuse it. In fact, I would argue he acted with integrity.