Letters, Dec. 31
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Honour well deserved
Re: Rural teachers’ award one for the history books (Dec. 28)
Congratulations from the Manitoba Historical Society to teachers Carla Cooke and Tracey Salamondra, of Hartney School, on receiving the 2022 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.
They and other dedicated teachers are moving beyond just “telling” students about history, to engage them in exploring and researching local history meaningful to them and their community. Such innovative teachers and their students are enriching our community by contributing to awareness of past challenges faced, and links to a better understanding of issues still with us.
We wish to support all teachers in their efforts and innovations as they are making history together.
-Dan Furlan, President, Manitoba Historical Society, Winnipeg
Only part of the story
Re: Residents live in fear evicted man will return (Dec. 24)
I have rarely seen such an irresponsible article in the Free Press as the account taken from the Brandon Sun on Saturday. “Residents live in fear,” proclaims the headline, a racist dog-whistle if I ever saw one.
The article is full of clues begging for investigation, but the Free Press, which has ample resources to follow those clues and produce a worthy piece of journalism, ignores them.
Why does Wesley Bone believe his relatives are buried near Lake Audy? Keeseekoowenin Reserve is full of people who could help you answer that.
Did a First Nation once live there? How did they come to leave? That is worth a story in itself, documenting a vicious and flagrant example of colonialist oppression.
Why is Dean Krupa so afraid? Can it be because he knows his family is enjoying the fruits of government injustice? Has Bone ever been convicted of a crime of violence?
How about some real journalism?
-John Badertscher, Winnipeg
Little hope of improvement
Re: Direction of windfall to steer Tories’ near future (Dec. 22)
Dan Lett’s article about the Progressive Conservative government’s response to the expected transfer payment gives one cause for reflection. I think he is in error, though, when he says the tax cuts the Tories delivered were not targeted. I suggest former premier Brian Pallister specifically targeted his tax cuts to the wealthy.
Pallister clearly has a personal dislike for paying taxes; he forgot, or declined, to pay improvement taxes at his Costa Rica home, and here in Manitoba strove to eliminate education taxes on property, providing windfalls to those who own the biggest and most valuable homes. He also eliminated estate taxes, and reduced the PST.
While the PST is by definition a regressive tax, the wealthy pay more of the PST by the fact they buy more, and more expensive, goods; bigger homes and more expensive cars. The $300-million equalization payment in 2019 allowed Pallister to cut the PST (and reduce government’s annual PST tax income by $300 million). He either wasn’t aware or didn’t care he was using a one-time payment to eliminate an annual income stream.
Slashing of government budgets and mandating zero per cent wage increases followed, which were fought and lost in costly litigation, while property taxes were rebated by mailing refunds of already collected taxes, instead of a prior deferral of the payment (postage alone cost $1 million).
The health budgeting also seems a major boondoggle, with offers of surgery with contracted U.S. clinics and paid travel costs going unfilled while rural patients assume costs to travel to Winnipeg to find scheduled surgery cancelled. Not wise management of the public purse.
Planning a budget surplus to lure election support can be contrived by delaying major infrastructure construction before costs are actually incurred, with early announced budget projects prior to determination of all ultimate components of design, planning and contract completion.
The government seems to be working hard to provide no hope of improvement, if past performance is an indicator of future action.
-Len Lewkowich, Winnipeg
Re: Once more into the downtown (Dec. 26)
Thank you, Melissa Martin, for yet another informative and well-written story.
In our past, we have done some things really well and some not so much. Martin’s words helped me realize that our parents’ and grandparents’ actions were, as are all of our actions, based on beliefs — that at the time we just took for granted.
Our ancestors believed it would be possible to create a perfect society, in which everyone would be free and safe and could, by dint of hard work, become economically secure. What we see downtown has demonstrated conclusively that dream has not come true. Many did achieve this, but many did not.
The economic system was, and is, based on the belief economic growth — the creation of wealth — will serve everyone. The unlimited growth of the economy would trickle down from the wealthy to benefit everyone. The vision is one of a happy country in which everyone who works hard will do well.
We came to believe that ever-increasing rates of growth were necessary, and good, and possible.
It is time to adjust our vision and our beliefs. We need only to acknowledge many people — the homeless, those who are addicted, who can’t manage to rise to the dream of being middle class — are not doing well, and that and unless something changes, we will never get there.
But I have hope.
My first and strongest reason for saying this is evident in other stories in the Free Press — the Bear Clan, the outpouring of support for Siloam Mission, the outpouring of human charity and hope at Christmas, and much more. These stories exhibit the true nature of humanity: it is our basic nature that we look out for each other. We do that easily with our neighbours; we tend to give up when faced with those who live in poverty, whether here in Canada or around the world.
The second reason is that we can still create our dream.
The first step is to look carefully at our dream and get together to create a new one — one in which everyone has, from birth, a fair chance. Where every child has enough to eat, free access to health care, free access to education, good housing and more.
If we can agree on a vision such as this (and why would we not?), then it will be simple to direct our economy to achieve these ends — to harness to unlimited genius of our corporations and workers to put our collective shoulders to the wheel and make it happen.
Our parents and grandparents did just that, and won the war against Hitler.
It may seem complicated, but it isn’t.
-Bill Martin, Gimli
Grateful for great care
We have heard, all too often in the past several years, about the terrible state of nursing homes and the poor outcomes experienced by residents.
My mom recently died at the amazing age of 97 years. We were incredibly lucky to have her cared for, in the past year and a half, at a most amazing facility. The care from the nurses, health-care aides, front desk staff, cleaners and all others there was provided with generosity, respect and good humour. She had advanced dementia, but that was never noted as a problem, just a part of life. Golden West Centennial Lodge is a beacon of light for elderly and their families.
Our gratitude to all those who work in this sector is immense.
-Alison Campbell, Winnipeg