Letters, Jan. 28


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Vicious circle

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Vicious circle

Re: Stars should not be shills for sports betting (Jan. 19) and Farmland still a hot investment, for better or for worse (Jan. 21)

It’s obscene that the growing income inequity in the world is allowed to continue despite the problems it causes. These are but two examples of what not should be happening. “The rich get richer, the poor get poorer” is a phrase I heard in my youth, and it still applies today, decades later.

Here we have two examples of why free enterprise, as we experience it, is actually causing many of our societal problems, such as poverty and crime. Why these three wealthy hockey stars need to get richer by promoting online gambling is beyond comprehension. In my mind, the NHL should have at least banned current players from promoting an activity that is new benchmark for lower moral and ethical standards. I have been been a big fan of Wayne Gretzky as the ultimate hockey player, but he has dropped in my esteem.

Laura Rance has revealed another money-making scheme for professional athletes: investing in companies that buy up farmland because of their generic growth in value. This not only helps drive up prices, but also diverts some of that land to non-farming use. While the number of farmers declines, it is driving up the price of land to the point where many of those wanting to become farmers can’t afford the outlay for the farmland, let alone the investment in machinery, feed and fertilizer costs.

Bill Gates is the largest single owner of farmland in the U.S. It remains to be seen whether this is strictly a money-making venture for him under the guise of pursuing “green tech initiatives.” In the meantime, by concentrating ownership of such land, he is helping drive up the price per acre making it almost impossible for new people to get back to the land. A good safe “hedge against inflation” for the super-rich!

These articles point to why the growing inequity in incomes causes the problems that most of us are affected by today — growing poverty, mental breakdowns and homelessness followed by growing crime and the call for ever more policing to throw people in jail. Winnipeg is a good example of a police budget that dominates other spending at the expense of money being budgeted to health care and education. A vicious circle indeed!

Gary McGimpsey


A modest proposal

Re: Subcontracting ArriveCan development ‘seems highly illogical and inefficient:’ PM (Jan. 24)

The practice of contracting and off-loading responsibility via a subcontract and inflating the cost should be replaced by using a request for proposal (RFP). RFPs are a well known process used by governments.

Conversely, the original contract should have included the terms and limits of any subcontract that may be required during the life of the contract.

Harold Slaby


Unequal access to river

Re: City pulls tuque over eyes, ignores Wolseley’s wintry blast of fun (Jan. 21)

Nice to see how community volunteers have made winter activities on the Assiniboine River such a popular, positive experience for Winnipeggers at Bourkevale and the Wolseley Winter Wonderland.

The discussion of policy issues focused on concerns about getting down the river banks and the risks of on-ice activities, but there’s an important issue ahead of those — the existence of public parks along the rivers.

The half-dozen access points referenced on the Wolseley side are city parks. These lots have lights, benches, are named as parks, such as “Aubrey Green,” and can be found on city maps. Residents in Wolseley have a relationship with the river because they can go to it in their neighbourhood, they can walk to it, they can see it, and so they use it.

On the other side of the river, River Heights has no parks. The access points mentioned at Waverley and Harrow streets (and Ash Street could be mentioned, too) are public land, but are hidden from view on the River Heights side. Despite city policy in its parks strategy that celebrates Winnipeg as a river city and supports public access to rivers, the public property at Waverley, the best lot for a park, is hidden from view by a white picket fence.

While it can be said the city is hands-off in some aspects of river policy, in River Heights the city has taken an active stance on hiding the river from residents. I hope the success of Wolseley’s Winter Wonderland will help reverse this and motivate the city to live up to its parks strategy by taking down the fence and supporting public access at “Waverley Green.”

Patrick Yarnell


Province should follow city’s example

Re: City ponders letting employees pick own stat holidays to reflect culture (Jan. 25)

I applaud the City of Winnipeg for asking the province to look at the employment standards code regarding statutory holidays.

I believe the province should look at changing the statutory holidays policy completely. My suggestion is to eliminate statutory holidays tied to any religion (with Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day as examples of Christian holidays) and institute a set number of holidays with pay for all employees. This number would be equal to the number of days currently assigned to religious statutory holidays.

These days would be tied to the employee’s beliefs and would need to be scheduled for on a yearly basis. For some employers, there is already a date by which holidays need to be requested, usually tied to either the calendar or the business year. Employees would request the appropriate days in advance by a date determined by the employer.

The service industry can decide which on holidays they will close and which they will stay open. If there is truly supposed to be separation of state and church, this is one way to ensure it.

Statutory holidays not tied to any religion (Louis Riel Day, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Terry Fox Day, Truth and Reconciliation Day, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day) can remain as they are now, with whatever rules the province wants to enforce regarding opening hours and services allowed.

This would keep the number of mandatory days off the same, but allow people to celebrate the important days in their religion and/or culture.

Not only would this be a good step in helping people honour their own traditions; it would allow Christians to celebrate the meaningful days in their religion without the crass commercialization that has resulted from the days being statutory holidays. I hope the province takes this request seriously and explores all the options for being more inclusive.

Carole Bilyk


Upstanding, outstanding

I have always enjoyed (but not necessarily agreed with) Mike McIntyre’s opinions on various sports topics. I would like to congratulate him on his recent column “Bowness builds success on decency, respect and accountability” (Jan. 24).

I think he hit the nail on the head when discussing Jets coach Rick Bowness and how lucky we are to have him. There is no place in the NHL for coaches like Darryl Sutter or John Tortorella — they are indeed dinosaurs!

Lynda MacIntosh


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