Letters, March 10
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Re: Desperate times call for out-of-character vote-seeking measures (March 7)
In a desperate attempt to roll back years of cutbacks and an austerity program, the Progressive Conservative government’s 2023 budget is chock-full of new spending: more money for health care, education and social programs.
This spend-spend-and-more-spend budget “fully reflects the Progressive Conservative roots of our premier,” announced Finance Minister Cliff Cullen in his budget speech.
But by attempting to out-NDP the NDP, the Tory finance minister has surely mistaken his premier for a soon-to-be -premier of Manitoba.
Exemption a good start
Re: Tories herald personal income tax cuts, increase in health spending in election-year budget (March 7)
Moving Manitoba’s basic personal tax exemption from $10,145 to $15,000, thus taking 47,400 low-income earners off the tax rolls has been a long time coming. A good start, but still an inadequate number in these days of hyperinflation and higher interest rates.
Let us hope that whoever forms the Manitoba government after the October 2023 election will continue to increase the personal tax exemption annually until it reaches an amount that, using common sense and facts, could be considered to be a fair living wage.
Budget benefits the wealthy
Re: In this fairy tale, Tories likely won’t live happily ever after (March 8)
In its 2023 budget, the Stefanson government is planning $800 million in tax cuts, which will largely benefit the province’s wealthiest citizens.
Meanwhile, following years of cuts in provincial funding to municipalities, the City of Winnipeg can’t find $650,000 to provide 24-7 service at the Amoowigamig washroom downtown, and is even considering reducing the downtown public washroom’s operating hours to eight hours a day from the current 10 (Main street washroom designer, advocate calls on city to expand hours, March 8).
Something is clearly wrong with our government’s priorities when putting cash in the pockets of the wealthy takes precedence over providing basic human dignity to our most vulnerable population.
Liquor plan dubious
Re: Tories questioned on private liquor sales (March 6)
Can’t say that I’m surprised that our provincial government is being vague about expanding private liquor sales.
British Columbia’s “Liberal” (read “conservative”) government, 20 years ago, floated the idea of shutting down the provincially owned/operated Liquor Distribution Branches (their liquor marts), and turning all such business to the private sector. Their rationale was that it cost, annually, $25-$40 million to operate the stores.
An information request was submitted by either the government employees’ union or the media. The resulting response admitted the expense; however, the government admitted the LDB also showed annual profits between $600 million and $650 million.
So our Progressive Conservative government appears rather disingenuous, if not downright dishonest, about the proposal’s benefits.
I also question the arguments expressed by the Saskatchewan Party’s decision to shut down that province’s Liquor Board stores. Their claim that the SLB lost $96 million in one year is hard to believe; I don’t recall whether that had been part of a trend, or whether Scott Moe created an excuse to pull a “Ralph Klein.”
In both cases, it was a gross disservice to the residents of their respective provinces.
I am concerned by recent overly partisan comments of MLA Dougald Lamont (Manitoba politicians take stand with “carbon cheques,” March 2). He disparages provincial carbon-tax-relief cheques as vote-buying, yet expresses no comments on federal payments associated with carbon taxes.
The latter have long involved attempted vote-buying that is utterly blatant: taking money away from citizens, then trying to take credit for giving a bit back, with Liberal MPs even chastising banks for inadequate promotion. Will Lamont now be donating his federal cheques too?
Inflation remains a big problem. Provincial help is thus legitimate and welcome. Importantly, the program amount closely matches annual carbon taxes on natural gas, our most essential and price-insensitive fossil fuel, given our cold climate. Natural gas and its infrastructure will be needed for some time, especially to ensure equality.
I have noted heat-pump technology is useful, but also frequently too expensive for most Manitobans, even with incentives.
Ground-source units can provide some operational savings, but as noted by the Ontario Contractors Association, can involve installed costs as high as $40,000. Air-source units involve lower installed costs, upward of $20,000, but as noted by Manitoba Hydro these units cost more to operate, hence no net savings.
There are no easy solutions.
No place to go
Re: Main Street washroom designer, advocate calls on city to expand, not reduce, hours (March 7)
I couldn’t agree more with designer Wins Bridgman and Coun. Sherry Rollins! How much was invested in this public washroom on Main Street? Hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would venture.
Not only will its closure for 14 hours a day result in pollution of the streets and properties by homeless people using them to urinate and defecate, but an unattended building in the core area will most likely suffer vandalism and quite possibly be set on fire, as other unattended public washrooms in this city have.
Surely some money can be found to supplement the amount already budgeted. Mayor Scott Gillingham said, “It is not realistic to expand to 24-7 operations this year.”
If city council doesn’t expand operations this year, the facility won’t be around in 2024! And that’s thousands of dollars “down the toilet”!
Strengthen Elections Canada
Re: Special watchdog to oversee foreign interference investigations: PM Trudeau (March 6)
Like many Canadians, I am concerned about countries such as China, Russia and Iran trying to interfere in our electoral processes.
I am also concerned about other foreign entities, such as foreign-owned multinational corporations, trying to influence political decisions and our elections. In particular, foreign-owned oil and gas companies have provided millions of dollars to lobby the federal government and run third-party election activities. While the Elections Act restricts third-party election activities funded by foreign entities, these corporations are exempt if they list their headquarters in Canada.
The rapporteur to be appointed by the federal government should consider this type of foreign election meddling, as well as that by agents of foreign countries.
Elections Canada is an independent and non-partisan agency that has served us well for over a century, and it should be strengthened to withstand threats to our democracy that have emerged in more recent years.
Big vehicles need space
Re: Paving over history to put up parking lots (March 2)
You displayed a picture of a surface parking lot with vehicles. Count the trucks and large SUVs in the picture. These vehicles do not fit the parkades downtown.
If you want the individuals owning these vehicles attending venues or shopping downtown you need to have parking that is not an unsafe hike from these destinations.
Updated on Friday, March 10, 2023 8:01 AM CST: Adds links, adds tile photo