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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.