Letters for April 28, 2023
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Let Charles prove his own worth
Re: Our nation meets the coronation (Editorial, April 26)
Another day, another article/editorial extolling the importance and manifold virtues of Charles.
As multiple recent polls reveal, Canadians seem stubbornly unwilling to join this chorus of fealty. What becomes of a symbol when it stops meaning anything of value to all but a few? Canada’s flag used to be the British one; now it’s our beloved Maple Leaf.
Back in the 1960s there were plenty of articles/editorials singing the praises of, and the unwisdom of looking beyond, the status quo. But modern-day Star Trek reminders notwithstanding, the Red Ensign just wasn’t capturing Canadians’ imaginations anymore, so we moved on from one symbol to another — and who today thinks we’re the poorer for it?
Symbols change their meanings and resonances over time. It happens — it’s OK. Quit trying so desperately to make Charles a thing! If he is truly bringing value to the institution he represents, we Canadians will judge accordingly.
If his personal or institutional symbolism is losing its lustre, no amount of frantic genuflecting towards the status quo is going to make it shiny again.
Dr. Sowmya Dakshinamurti
Winnipeg deserves cool things
Re: ‘Sky garden’ among ideas floated for Portage and Main (April 26)
I’d like to keep this short and to the point. Why can Winnipeg not have cool things?
The proposal for the sky garden would be ahead of its time and make the city of Winnipeg a world class destination.
It is a visionary aim that would project Winnipeg as a major player as a city that is moving forward with the times.
We as a city need this for no other reason than to prosper. It looks and feels out of this world.
Compromise position on P&M
Perhaps the solution to the seemingly never-ending debate with respect to the opening of Portage and Main is to be found in rational compromise.
It ought to be noted that any grandiose plan to rejuvenate the intersection architecturally speaking will not come cheaply and will continue to burden city finances with ongoing upkeep and maintenance costs, something we might wish to keep in mind.
We have, arguably speaking, managed to build a city that struggles with its financial obligations. Let’s not further stretch the capacity to address the requirements that are presently in dire need of attention.
It may prove wise to approach the remaking of the iconic intersection by means of incremental steps to determine what works rather than a sweeping restructuring based upon assumptions. Open the area to pedestrians during the times of the year when they are most apt to utilize it. Shut it down during the winter months, also the time of year when traffic congestion is generally at its worst. Measure the usage accordingly and then embark on a longer term plan predicated on reliable data.
We adjust to the changing seasons in a variety of ways, there’s no reason to think a winter/summer approach to the intersection couldn’t work and perhaps prove to be the most cost effective and acceptable compromise to what has become an all or nothing issue which appears to be pleasing no one.
Need to discourage theft
Re: Sick baby’s dad steals nurse’s car (April 25)
This report adds to the long list of examples of opportunistic theft in Manitoba. Maybe our slogan of “friendly” Manitoba should be replaced by something less benign — like “heartless.”
National organizations report that Manitobans, on average, are the most generous donors to charitable causes in Canada. In truth, we have many aid groups to provide essentials for needy people, but that isn’t enough.
Also necessary are more provider services — for mental health and addictions treatment and for skills training, as examples. Having too few addiction treatment programs might explain — but does not justify — the high frequency of theft in our cities.
Let’s stop thinking that theft is just an easy form of redistributing the wealth; theft is very harmful to its victims emotionally and (often) physically, and it collectively damages the downtown economy. Do Winnipeggers want to live in a place where you always have to watch your back?
The article headlined above shows that thieves are not Robin Hoods; most are selfish and cowardly. Supervised mandated work programs for convicted offenders, with earnings used towards compensation of victims’ losses, might make the thought of a predatory lifestyle less attractive.
Support for public servants
I am writing to express my support for the public servants who are currently on strike for higher wages and teleworking arrangements, and to call on the government to listen to their demands.
As a member of the public, I understand the vital role that public servants play in ensuring the smooth functioning of our society. These workers often go above and beyond their job descriptions to serve the public, with many in the Canada Revenue Agency finding themselves underpaid compared to similar private sector jobs. It is only fair that they are compensated accordingly.
The fact that these workers are also demanding the ability to work from home, or telework, is not unreasonable. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that many jobs can be done remotely, and that telework can be a valuable tool for increasing productivity, reducing commuting time and costs, reducing employer costs, and promoting work-life balance.
It is disappointing to see that the government is refusing to budge on these issues, and is instead choosing to ignore the needs and concerns of these workers. By refusing to negotiate with the striking public servants, the government is sending a message that it does not value their contributions to society, and that it is not interested in supporting their well-being.
Many public servants live paycheque to paycheque, and this prolonged strike is causing severe hardship for all.
I call on the government to take a more constructive approach to these negotiations, and to work with the striking public servants to find a solution that is fair and reasonable for all parties involved. It is only by treating our public servants with the respect and dignity they deserve that we can build a stronger and more prosperous society for all.
Memories of Belafonte
Re: Daylight come and we want to go… to Winnipeg (Arts and Life, April 27)
I was so pleased to see the piece about Harry Belafonte’s connection to Winnipeg, and, in particular, to the Centennial Concert Hall, even though it’s a story I already knew very well.
My dad, John C. Walton, was the general manager and then executive director at the Concert Hall from 1969 until his retirement in 2002.
He had dozens of stories about performers through those years, but one of his favourites to tell was about Mr. Belafonte (as he called him). It was a point of profound pride to Dad that, of all of the places he could have recorded that television special, the great Harry Belafonte chose the wonderful acoustics of the Winnipeg’s own Centennial Concert Hall. Mr. Belafonte told my dad himself they were his favourite in all the world.
My dad passed away suddenly in the summer of 2019, and it was so good to hear one of his stories one more time.
Thank you for sharing it.
Jennifer M. Walton
Updated on Friday, April 28, 2023 9:57 AM CDT: Adds links, adds tile photo