Re: Churchill pipeline a unique opportunity (April 16)
I read the article by Joseph Quesnel trying to promote building pipelines from Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the port of Churchill. As a businessman, I always try to look for opportunities and whether ventures make sense. In this case, many things work against this pipeline.
The first thing is money. Part of the problem right now is the value of Canadian oil. Because Canada’s oil is sour and thick, it commands a price much lower than our American or Middle East counterparts’ oil. Right now, the oil companies in Canada would be selling their product at a loss.
As well, there is a very high pressure to move away from fossil fuels, which puts the long-term viability of a pipeline in question. You must always ask yourself, who will buy the oil and do we have guaranteed orders at a set price? The answer is no to both of those. There are no guarantees for a rate of return to the shareholders (private, government, and taxpayers) in this venture. Look at the Keystone pipeline — there are still problems with that line. What happens when you get a change in government where you are selling the oil?
The other problem we have is that the permafrost that far North would cause the pipe to rupture. All you need to do is take the train to Churchill; you will see the track is heaving up and down and side to side. The ground shifts so much, a pipeline would be impossible.
Mother Nature does not always provide clear sailing for ships all year long. In many years, the waterway is free of ice only for two or three months. We tried to ship wheat from the Prairies via Churchill, and that never worked very well. The oil companies could not guarantee their buyers an uninterrupted supply of oil.
Governments are usually involved in these schemes, hoping beyond hope to create more jobs in their provinces and collect royalties. In the end, the taxpayer pays. Saskatchewan is rich in uranium. It should be developing its mining and building power plants to sell electricity. That is the way of the future.
As far as oil pipelines go — like Kevin O’Leary says, "I’m out!"
Ottawa should safeguard support
Re: Ottawa urges provinces not to claw back support (April 15)
It is excellent that the federal government is urging provinces and territories not to claw back Canada Emergency Response Benefits from the many social assistance (welfare) recipients who work, but do not earn enough to meet their basic needs.
But the federal government could do more for these Canadians who are working, but still living in poverty. It could place a prohibition to this kind of clawback as a condition in the Canada Social Transfer. Then provinces and territories would lose one dollar of federal support for every dollar they claw back.
Sometimes words are not enough and actions are required.
Province must ramp up testing
At the best of times, working in government requires a special fortitude, let alone working during a pandemic. Traditionally, government decisions are tediously drawn out and actions delayed. However, COVID-19 has forced governments to work much faster. The pressure to get the right policies in place as our economy slips into an abyss would challenge any seasoned bureaucrat. Now, add to that pressure additional policies that will determine whether more people will live or die from a virus that many had not even heard of 12 weeks ago.
It is a thankless position to be in. So governments should be forgiven for pushing some of these responsibilities onto the public. Governments know they cannot fight COVID-19 alone, so they have asked citizens to self-isolate. It is a quick decision that makes citizens accountable and can work. However, it comes at a cost and cannot hold indefinitely.
Sooner or later, our economy will need to start breathing again. So governments are now faced with a tougher decision — how to deal with its citizens as the desire to self-isolate fades. To date, that decision in Manitoba has been to force compliance with the threat of fines or incarceration, instead of taking another approach that would see people returning back to work and life.
This other option does present its own risks. However, so does keeping a workforce locked up indefinitely. For Manitobans to get on with things, we need to severely ramp up testing of our citizens and allow people who have antibodies to the coronavirus to return to duty.
We need to take the guesswork out of the equation and finally understand who is sick, who is healthy and who is still at risk — something that has not been done.
To do anything else will only ensure a further eroding of our economy and the personal freedoms of its citizens.
Trump fair game
Re: Cut down on Trump criticism (Letters, April 16)
I disagree with Edward Katz that the Winnipeg Free Press needs to restrict the number of published letters to the editor that are critical of U.S. President Donald Trump. There are three reasons for my opinion.
It is the mandate of the Winnipeg Free Press to reflect the opinions expressed by readers. Letters to the editor are an important aspect of a free press. If the Winnipeg Free Press receives letters in support of Trump, it is equally important to publish some of those letters.
Letters to the editor are a strategy readers have to express their informed opinions. If one wants letters more supportive of Trump, there are several available media outlets that would fill that particular want.
The comparisons to former presidents Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower aren’t relevant. The 2020 U.S. president has access to science and has methods to share information about the COVID-19 situation that weren’t available during pandemics in 1918 and 1957.
New learning environment challenging
Re: Province sets weekly school work baselines (April 14).
Regarding the student exodus from the classroom, as we all know this was announced in March by Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen, to help fight the spread of COVID-19. All of the school divisions in our province were planning and working towards the closure. Teachers and principals did a lot of preliminary arranging before closure of the classrooms.
Now the responsibility of keeping the students on task at home falls to parents and caregivers. This article elaborates on the fact there should be learning goals and expectations for students, families and teachers. It was mentioned that educators must stay in touch with students throughout this stressful period, and at the same time be in contact with parents.
Currently, parents or caregivers are placed in a situation where they are educators at home. This has become a big commitment. It is very challenging for the home environment, probably at times tough to secure the communication with the classroom teachers so curriculum is addressed and executed properly.
This is a colossal challenge for everyone — student, parent, caregiver, educator — touched by this sudden change in their life.
Personally, I think everyone in the school system throughout the province is "on the right track" and coping very well with the extraordinary change.
Peter J. Manastyrsky