Phones and peace of mind
Re: Cellphones gaining acceptance inside U.S. schools (April 3)
Even though cellphones may seem a source of distraction to students, I feel that kids bringing their cellphones to school is good, just in case of emergencies, so they would be able to contact their parents or even emergency services.
By doing so, parents would have peace of mind knowing that they can contact their kids even when they are in school. The kids should just be cautioned on when to use and not use them in school.
Let TSB investigate highway safety
Canada needs a national road safety agency.
The tragic crash of the Humboldt Broncos team bus at a nondescript intersection in rural Saskatchewan highlights important questions Canadians should ask: Why does Canada not have a national road safety watchdog? What can we, as a country, objectively and systemically learn from highway crashes beyond what the RCMP investigation will reveal? What could have been done differently, and who has the legislative mandate to recommend improvements in transportation policy and regulation?
In Canada, major transportation incidents in the rail, aviation, marine and pipeline sectors are investigated by a national independent agency, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).
Highway incidents are intentionally absent from the TSB mandate because road safety is considered a provincial responsibility, with few exceptions such as new vehicle standards, seatbelt and child-restraint standards and requirements for motor carriers and commercial trucking. Road crashes are typically investigated by the RCMP, municipal police departments or provincial transportation departments. These agencies lack the mandate to routinely collect, analyze, recommend and implement safety improvements outside their provincial jurisdiction.
TSB investigations, on the other hand, are conducted by teams of multidisciplinary experts and provide an in-depth analysis of the incident to determine probable causes. More importantly, when necessary, the TSB issues safety recommendations and advisories, and persistently ensures they are implemented on a national scale. In the areas of its current mandate, all modes of transportation but roads, the TSB investigations have had profound impacts on how transportation infrastructure is built, managed and operated, and have clearly improved transportation safety, such as in the TSB’s recommendations following the Air France 358 incident at Toronto Pearson Airport in August 2005 and the Lac Mégantic rail disaster in 2013.
Highway incidents rarely receive national attention, despite nearly 1,900 road fatalities and more than 10,000 serious injuries every year. The Broncos crash should remind us that 10 years ago, a 15-passenger van carrying a high school hockey team (known as the Boys in Red) and a transport truck were involved in a head-on crash near Bathurst, N.B. Seven players and their coach died in the crash.
The TSB has contributed effectively to improved safety in other transportation modes, and it is certainly time for the Canadian government to extend the same duty of care to road safety and road users.
Ahmed Shalaby, PhD, P.Eng.
Professor of Transportation Engineering and Municipal Infrastructure Research Chair
University of Manitoba
Working for the weekend (edition)
Re: We’ve made it easier to find what you want to read (April 7)
I love the new changes in the weekend edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. Having moved around the country as much as I have and reading a variety of newspapers along the way, I was waiting for that extra touch and need not wait any longer, as you have now perfected the style and content of the weekend edition of the Free Press by adding "Weekend Review" and "Passages." Thank you.
Punch up play-by-play
Memo to Hockey Night in Canada: Could we please get a professional play-by-play crew to cover the Jets’ playoff games? I’ve just sat through another HNIC Saturday night disaster where the booth crew ignored about a third of the game to talk about something else that interested them more than the action on the ice. We heard about world championships, Blackhawks’ careers, goalie anecdotes, Olympic medals and a hundred other topics while the game was going on.
When the play-by-play team did notice the game, the generic references outnumbered the Jets’ players names. The "puck was shot in," "the Jets’ defenceman turned Saad aside," "here comes the Jets’ attack."
And when the Jets were singled out for praise, the famous "under the radar" phrase was used. Take note: "under the radar" is HNIC-speak for something that happened more than 100 miles outside Toronto.
Please, HNIC, these playoffs are important to us. Please find a professional crew to do the play-by-play. If you can’t find one on short notice, there’s an excellent guy with TSN Jets who should be available. And he can pronounce the names of all the Jets’ players.
Carbon tax should help innovation
Re: Pallister tells Ottawa to ‘back off’ (April 7)
Having just read Premier Brian Pallister’s tirade telling the federal government to "back off" on their "empty threat" to raise the carbon tax, I am reminded of a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum.
It would seem that Pallister simply does not get what the carbon tax is supposed to be for. Our government agreed to attempt to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with countries from all over the world. We already know the U.S. has dropped out, since that is the last thing on Mr. Trump’s mind.
The federal government is trying to get the entire country to live up to our agreement. The whole idea is that if you increase the taxes on carbon, then people will tend to use less whenever possible. The money collected would be then returned to the provinces, but the money was supposed to be used to encourage cutbacks in greenhouse emissions by funding research and various projects to come up with innovative ideas on how we can achieve these reductions.
Helping our families who are struggling to make ends meet is definitely somewhere a portion of this money should go. It was not, however, intended to be doled out to reduce our income taxes or the PST. Obviously, everyone would like to reduce their taxes, myself included, but that is not what this money was intended to do.
The Progressive Conservatives still claim their tax will reduce greenhouse gases more than the federal plan, but I have not seen one bit of proof of that.
There was a report in Saturday’s paper with regard to the aging wastewater infrastructure putting our lakes at risk. Here is a place that our provincial government could set up a fund from the carbon tax collected that the city, province and corporate individuals could apply to that would help to reduce our pollution. Also, a Hutterite colony has come up with a biomass generator that helped it to get away from using coal. One more idea that could be funded to decrease our greenhouse gas production.
Let’s not spend taxpayers’ money taking the federal government to court over something that we should want to take part in. Let’s put our Earth first and work cautiously toward cutting our debt load.