Letters, May 15
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Politically targeting retail employers is misguided
Today almost 17,000 Manitobans work in grocery stores across the province. Those stores are the cornerstones of their communities and a growing, vibrant part of the Manitoba economy.
In recent days, some Manitoba politicians have unfairly called out specific businesses as inappropriately benefiting from a rebate program, where they receive back a small fraction of the millions of dollars they pay annually in provincial tax. This is not how serious economic choices should be made, and the political theatre and name calling does not benefit Manitobans.
Statements criticizing these companies and their ownership are deliberately overlooking the many vital ways they contribute to the province. This includes major commitments they make to help Manitoba’s local growers and producers flourish, the work Manitoba’s construction industry benefits from as profits are reinvested to update and expand access to stores, and the millions contributed to local charities, including the important role they play in supporting the province’s food bank system.
In Manitoba, retailers including grocers, pay millions of dollars in taxes each year — through property taxes, Manitoba’s health and education (payroll) tax, corporate tax, and a range of levies and operating fees. The system works because all businesses are treated equitably. Deciding which businesses are “deserving” of government programs and which are not is like picking favourites with your children.
Retail Council of Canada will always support opportunities to reduce the tax burden on Manitobans and its businesses, including the current government’s policy to rebate a portion of the education property tax paid to all contributors.
In the same way Manitoba property owners will have many demands for the 50 per cent school tax rebate they’ll receive this year, the 10 per cent rebate on what commercial property owners have paid would typically be reinvested into lowering pricing, job creation or improvements to their businesses.
Ultimately, we would expect no current or future Manitoba government to use their power to arbitrarily disrupt tax fairness and the level playing field businesses expect. It might make for good political campaigning, but designing policies based on the size of their business interests is bad for every Manitoban.
Director of Government Relations (Winnipeg based)
Retail Council of Canada
A poem to celebrate diversity
Dear child of our beautiful planet:
Maybe you feel anxious
Maybe you have two moms
Maybe you speak with your hands
Maybe you are Wiccan
Maybe there is more tension than laughter
in your home
Maybe you are questioning
Maybe you feel judged
Maybe your family does not eat meat
Maybe you hide to take your daily meds
Maybe your skin is darker than your friend’s
Maybe your grandmother is a residential
Maybe your dad speaks with a heavy accent.
Books that celebrate you, your identity, your community
Will always be welcome in my library. Always.
I choose kindness.
With love from your friend,
Questioning official pork story
Re: Growth of Manitoba pork industry not a source of pride (Think Tank, May 11)
I would like to commend Jessica Scott-Reid on her excellent op-ed piece. Her revelations of the facts as they relate to the expanding hog industry in Manitoba are enlightening, and are a stark contrast to the “claims” that Manitoba Pork made in its recent advertorial “Hog sector takes action on sustainability.” Among the many claims Manitoba Pork made is that hog barns use less land than 50 years ago.
As Scott-Reid points out, hog barns are producing eight million pigs each year. While the number of pigs has increased sevenfold since 1970, the number of farms has dramatically decreased. She adds the average number of hogs per warehouse in Manitoba is nearly 6,000.
Hogs are confined in enclosures that allow little space for movement; sows spend most of their lives in gestation crates that are so small they cannot turn around. So, if the hog sector is using less land, undoubtedly that would be the reason. Further, there is not enough land to absorb the waste produced by eight million pigs each year. The “liquid gold” (term Manitoba Pork uses to describe the waste), which is being spread on fields finds its way into rivers and lakes despite Manitoba Pork’s reassurances that they are working on ways to prevent that.
In its advertorial, Manitoba Pork proudly points out that the hog industry produces protein. Calling pigs protein deflects from the fact that hog barns practise industrialized animal abuse. Pigs may be protein but they are also animals that are being inhumanely raised and slaughtered by the millions. Further, using a term like hog farmers to describe industrialized barns diminishes what actual farmers do when raising pigs in a natural environment.
Manitoba Pork can make whatever claims it wants, but if you ask people who live near industrialized hog barns, they’ll tell you a different story. Just as Jessica Scott-Reid has done.
Nuclear concerns in Ukraine
Re: Worries grow about Ukraine nuclear plant amid evacuations (May 8)
I haven’t written for some time about the war in Ukraine but reading the article on the front page of the Free Press made me think and question whether a civilian evacuation in a volatile area of southeastern Ukraine is going to happen any time soon. Is there a good possibility of another nuclear accident in Ukraine? Is Europe headed towards a second world nuclear incident? It was 37 years ago in the city Chernobyl, Ukraine, that a nuclear disaster occurred and millions of lives were affected.
International Atomic Energy Agency director Rafael Grossi said, the evacuation of civilians from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province is vital because there is a good possibility of a radiation leak due to intense fighting, a potential dangerous hot spot.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is Europe’s largest nuclear station. Russia has controlled the facility since about two weeks after invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The surrounding nuclear plant has six Soviet-designed reactors; only two have remained in operation amid the fighting. This region is very worrisome, and there are fears of a Chernobyl style disaster that could spread radioactivity far and wide like on April 26, 1986.
If the Western leaders want stability, not a repeat of a disastrous incident like Chernobyl, they must overcome their fear of Russian escalation. This means setting aside concerns about provoking Putin and demonstrating the kind of resolve that will force the Russian dictator to listen. This war is not just the fate of Ukraine and the surrounding democratic counties. Leaders of free societies currently have a unique opportunity to defeat Putin in Ukraine without sacrificing any troops of their own.
Ukrainians have proven themselves to be resilient, resistant, and resolute. Ukraine is fighting for their country’s survival, for Europe’s freedom and for a safe world to live in. Westerners who wonder whether supporting Ukraine is worth the effort should realize that the war isn’t just about Ukraine, we should be thinking how to prevent future nuclear world catastrophes.
Peter John Manastyrsky
Updated on Monday, May 15, 2023 9:14 AM CDT: Adds links, adds tile photo