Canadian politics differs from U.S.
Re: Party politics (Letters, Aug. 3)
Frank Sterle Jr.’s letter is very accurate, but did not go far enough. He noted that the two largest Canadian federal parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, are like the Democrats and the Republicans in the U.S. Both Canadian parties, as in the U.S., appear to be beholden to corporations. Sterle calls the situation "corpocracy."
However, unlike in the U.S., where polarization has halted progressive movement, Canada still has democratic choices beyond the two parties. Parties such as the Greens or the NDP still allow the avoidance of the narrow choice of only the two parties.
Other differences, such as concern for the environment and a vigorous health-care system, make Canada significantly different from the U.S. Learning from Indigenous peoples may slow the destruction of nature which Big Oil and Gas appear to overlook in North America, and hopefully a redistribution of income might also reduce the poverty which may lie behind some of the mass shootings in the U.S.
Saving the lake
Re: Lake Winnipeg needs us now (Aug. 6)
Niigaan Sinclair has it right when he highlights the cost-effective approach of restoring the natural systems that absorb pollutants and excess nutrients so they don’t enter Lake Winnipeg.
We do not have the right to ruin the 10th-largest freshwater lake on the planet. Rather, we have a collective responsibility to cherish it, and a time-limited opportunity to recover Manitoba’s centrepiece water body that provides recreation and sustainable livelihoods for so many Manitobans.
Restoring and maintaining natural areas would greatly reduce the pollution and mass algae blooms that are destroying our lake.
We also need to protect the remaining natural areas in Lake Winnipeg’s watershed now, in order to avoid the expense of restoration in the future. Boreal forests and wetlands are the last stop for much of the water that flows into our great lake. According to an Environment Canada and Manitoba Water Stewardship report, more than 75 per cent of the total inflow of water to Lake Winnipeg flows through the boreal forest.
Thankfully, there are First Nations and local conservation districts that are making progress on protecting our wild lands and waters. However, it’s not enough. As elections approach, it’s an ideal time for Manitobans to let provincial and federal government representatives know that we want conserving boreal forests and wetlands in Lake Winnipeg’s watershed to be a top priority.
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society — Manitoba chapter
The idea that Lake Winnipeg is a person is a bit extreme. If you were to sue the lake for damaging your property, who would you serve the papers to?
It’s better to think of it as a trust. The lake has been given to us in trust, and those of us who use the lake are responsible for nurturing it. The formation of a Lake Winnipeg trust responsible for the health and well-being of the lake seems to be what they have done in New Zealand. As a corporate entity, it can then enter into contractual relationships with the users.
In theory, the province is responsible for the welfare of the lake, but in negotiations with users, it is not always clear that the primary responsibility is to protect the lake, since the interests of the users are also a responsibility of the province.
Green policies better on health
Re: Green Party platform touts carbon tax, guaranteed income, better health care (Aug. 10)
The Green Party of Manitoba has provided a far more sustainable, effective and humane approach to health-care cost containment than the Pallister government.
The Pallister government has relied on cutting health services, while at the same time generating more health-care demand by cutting housing subsidies, instituting an inadequate minimum wage and chipping away at social assistance benefits. All of these actions increase poverty and economic inequality, which are the most powerful determinants of health status.
Alternately, the Green platform improves health through improving the environment by instituting an increased carbon tax and subsidizing transportation, decreasing poverty through a basic income and offering preventive services.
The Pallister strategy will lead to either increased health-care costs or more unmet need. The Green strategy will decrease the prevalence of disease and demand on the health-care system.
Faculty of social work, University of Manitoba
Attack ads set poor example
I feel compelled to write in about the election attack-ad billboards at the Slaw Rebchuck bridge and just a few blocks further south on Isabel Street, closer to the Health Sciences Centre. These identical attack ads comprise a large and extremely unflattering close-up of our premier’s face, rendered in grainy black-and-white, alongside the value-judgment that he will wreck health care.
I suppose most Manitobans are resigned to attack ads being flung both ways until election day, but I find it offensive to see such personally aimed nastiness writ large on billboards, on the streets and sidewalks we and our children use every day.
But it seems someone’s campaign manager disagrees with my assessment of this obtuse election tactic. (These ads do not have an affiliation to a specific political party, but rather some third-party entity.)
When I first saw these twin election billboards, the memory of the 1993 "Think twice" attack ad on Liberal leader Jean Chrétien came to mind. While the federal Progressive Conservative backroom boys at first denied any objectionable intent, then-prime minister Kim Campbell cancelled the ad and offered an apology. (She didn’t win.) Unlike Chrétien, our premier did not suffer from Bell’s palsy as a child, but the current anti-Pallister attack ad is clearly an attempt to — using the words of mortified PC candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore Patrick Boyer back in 1993 — "make a caricature of a… party leader."
Manitoba’s political leaders and candidates insist they want the political arena in this province to be more welcoming, inclusive and family-friendly. The public can help them do this by entreating the winners of the September election to make such personal attacks unlawful and subject to fine.
And while they are at it, these new MLAs can learn to speak more civilly in the legislative chamber. (Good luck to them, I say; they are going to have to teach themselves by and large.) Our children are paying attention.
West St. Paul