Letters, Jan. 24
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Hurry, but not too hard
Re: Curling considered a high risk activity (Jan. 23)
The Pembina Trails School Division should read the Manitoba Department of Education out-of-school handbook before taking such a ridiculous position.
Curling is a Level 2 risk: “There are some safety concerns for this physical activity; quality instruction is recommended, and little or no adult supervision is required.”
To me, curling is less risky than walking to school on our Manitoba winter streets. Are such sports as hockey, football, even basketball or volleyball considered high-risk?
Make streets safer
How refreshing to read about the renovation of the McLaren Hotel and how sad, in the same issue of the Free Press, to read Aaron Zeghers’s letter regarding the sale of the Towne 8 Cinema.
In the 1960s and ’70s, a simpler time, I rode my bicycle throughout the city of Winnipeg, alone and with pals, including to Cinema 3 on Ellice Avenue.
When I moved back to Winnipeg in 2003, I recommenced riding throughout the city, to commute to work and for exercise. I continued this through last spring, when I determined many older parts of the city were too dangerous for such an activity.
In those simpler, bygone days there were far fewer cars and many more individuals per household and we weren’t yet under the grip of “consumption politics.”
Google indicates it is 1.1 kilometres from the McLaren Hotel to the Towne 8 Cinema. Are we up to the task of making this short walk safe and making good on Zeghers’ cogent lamentation?
Province should support ranchers
It is sad and disheartening to see how the Manitoba government has treated the small cattle ranchers who are the stewards of our grasslands. It forced most of the First Nations ranchers out of business with the Portage Diversion flood of 2011. The people and the land have never recovered.
In the last three years, the provincial government has caused many of the Métis ranchers and others to go out of business by tripling its grazing fees overnight. At the same time, it changed the laws so large corporations were able to swoop in and consolidate these ranches into huge mismanaged units. Most of these ranchers are now almost penniless after generations of back-breaking work caring for the land and livestock.
Now that the damage has been done, we see the two former agriculture ministers and the deputy minister fleeing for the exits, too arrogant to admit their mistakes. Their lives will go on unaffected. This is in sharp contrast to the ranchers whose lives and farms have been destroyed.
The Manitoba Crown Land Leaseholders Association is calling on the premier to step up to the plate. Your government promised to help young farmers and increase the beef herd; instead you have forced a number of young ranchers to leave, never to return. However, it’s not too late for you to reverse the senseless policies your government has enacted.
It’s also time for the Manitoba Métis Federation, which has been strangely silent, to get involved. After all, it was the Manitoba government and land speculators who managed to rob the Métis farmers of a million acres of land in the 1880s.
Premier Stefanson, please don’t let these good hard-working citizens go down the drain.
Troops deserve quality equipment
Earlier this month, Canada announced it was buying an American-made surface-to-air missile system for Ukraine, at a cost of $406 million.
At about the same time, the country announced the purchase of 88 F-35 fighter jets.
I fully support Canada’s assistance to Ukraine, but I read purchasing was necessary because Canada does not have any of its own to give. Why not?
I also support the F-35 purchase, which seems to have been a political hot potato for years.
When Canadian forces were deployed to Afghanistan, the troops were transported with U.S. assistance. For a time, it was thought it would be the Russians who would help get them there. The soldiers arrived without enough uniforms, and they were each given 20 rounds of ammunition. There were problems with the light armoured vehicles (LAVs) supplied to them. To say supplies were inadequate is an understatement.
Our nephew, who did two tours in Afghanistan, told us he would be all right if he could stay away from the LAV. Unfortunately, that was not an option for him, and he died in March 2006 while riding turret in the LAV he had no trust in.
Since then, improvements have been made to the LAV to address issues identified in Afghanistan and other places. But we continue to hear our military is ill-equipped to deal with the duties it may at any time be called on to perform.
If we ever must send our sons and daughters into harm’s way, we owe it to them to ensure they go with the best military equipment money can buy. We need to be better at planning and putting our money where our mouths are.
Re: Community key to getting downtown library security right (Jan. 19)
I don’t get it. Why would metal detectors at the library discourage any legitimate library patron from using the facility? I don’t think people decide not to go to a hockey game or not take a flight just because they have to pass through a metal detector.
It seems to me the only people who would be discouraged from using the facility would be people carrying a weapon they wish to hide, and these are exactly the people we want to discourage from entering the facility.
Former member of the Winnipeg Public Libraries Board
In few words
Re: Plain-language policy puts citizens’ needs first (Jan. 23)
I am pleased to see the initiative to plain English reports at city hall. It is long overdue. But the issue of effective communication does not stop at plain-English approaches.
It also should include better context of the topic at hand, such as multi-year trends of important issues, including costs and results. Public-sector leaders and managers tend to speak in year-over-year budgets, not what has happened with these expenditures over, for example, the last five or 10 years.
There also needs to be more routine reporting, not just when called upon by council.
Finally, there need to be standards for timeliness of reporting.
Plain English is one part of the solution. It is also improved perspective and timeliness of reporting that will aid councillors and the public.
Should an editorial be an example of plain language? No doubt, readers would hope so. Is this editorial a good example of the policy?
To test it, I copied and pasted it into MS Word. I then used MS Word’s Review/Editor utility to analyze the editorial. In fairness to the Winnipeg Free Press, I had set the utility to flag complex sentences, passive voice, difficult explanations and complex language. Under those conditions, is the editorial a good example of plain language?
Sadly, it is not. Ideally, an average sentence should be 14 or fewer words. The editorial’s average is 19.6 words per sentence. The editorial says plain language should be at a Grade 8 reading level. The editorial’s reading level is Grade 12.5. It’s easy to recommend plain language. It’s much harder to deliver it.
What is MS Word’s verdict on this response? The average words per sentence is 9.2. The grade level is Grade 7.7. I do try to practise what I preach.
Edward Keith Bricknell
Updated on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 7:52 AM CST: Adds links, adds tile photo