Butt out, Manitoba
Re: Some Quebecers not impressed by ads promoting Manitoba’s diversity, multiculturalism (Nov. 28)
As a former Montrealer, I was surprised that Le Devoir, a leading Quebec newspaper that has high credibility and a balanced perspective, accepted the Manitoba advertisement which lists the "21" good reasons for Quebecers to consider moving to Manitoba.
Quite clearly, this advertisement was not just a call to Quebecers to settle in Manitoba, but also to make a critical reference to the Quebec government’s controversial Bill 21. This bill restricts the wearing of religious symbols when in service at key public service positions, like policing.
It would have been appropriate if Le Devoir requested that the Manitoba government not make a sarcastic reference to Bill 21 and thereby increase the divide in Canada.
This controversial issue is being addressed in court, on the grounds of human rights and the freedom of religious expression. It is best that we avoid public disagreement between Manitoba and Quebec on this delicate identity issue.
Unquestionably, there is good reason to critically address this freedom for religious identity in healthy debates. There is no need for any addition to the controversial issue while it is in court.
Manitoba advertises in Quebec newspapers for workers to move here, but with all the austerity and cuts to public services, why would anyone come here to work for this government?
Let’s reduce the civil service by 2,000 positions and dump those workloads on the remaining workers, pass legislation to freeze their wages and contract out their jobs, but expect people to come here to work under those conditions?
Let’s close emergency rooms, cut health-care services and freeze wages, but expect a nurse to pull up stakes and head west to Friendly Manitoba?
Does Premier Brian Pallister not realize the national news has been reporting on the assaults and thefts and the grim milestone Winnipeg has reached for the highest number of homicides already this year?
It’s hard to feel welcome when you don’t feel safe, whether it be in your job, about your future or on the streets.
Re: City’s expanding footprint has high cost (Nov. 15)
Brent Bellamy’s excellent article offers perhaps the only clear way forward for all cities, including Winnipeg, to transition to a financially sustainable future.
The proposed cuts announced just this week by the city to our infrastructure highlight this change — street lights turned off, reductions in transit bus hours, reassignment of police officers, elimination of garbage collection for small users, etc. These are but a harbinger of a dark fiscal future unless we radically change our settlement patterns to more compact and sustainable urban forms.
Why is it so hard for us to imagine a different future? Those who travel to cities around the world marvel at the walkability, the transit efficiency, the sustainability and the vibrant life in dense urban cores. Then we return to business-as-usual in Winnipeg, where we continue to support unchecked suburban expansion that thrives at the expense of thoughtful, responsible and equitable urbanism.
Our city cannot have both unchecked suburban expansion and sustainable density. As Bellamy noted in his article, our suburban communities are not financially sustainable. He notes that in a recent study for the City of Calgary, the city would save $11 billion over 60 years if future growth could be accomplished on 25 per cent less land. Winnipeg’s savings from a similar policy would provide funding toward the creation of a much more balanced and environmentally sustainable city and would alleviate the many additional cuts to infrastructure that will be coming in our future.
It would seem council is prepared to initiate this change toward an intensification of our city. Last year, Winnipeg city council approved Winnipeg’s Climate Action Plan, which included commitment to a policy in which 50 per cent of all new buildings by 2030 will be infill development.
While a noble objective, there is very little evidence that the city is preparing a strategic plan so that over the next 10 years it can implement the infill changes it has endorsed. It appears that one arm of city council has adopted a plan that will substantially change the urban-suburban balance and has already assumed the inevitability of a significantly more compact city. But there are few visible plans about how to get there.
The residential infill design guidelines and intensification planning process that is ongoing by the city are a good first step. Our city council will need to make difficult decisions about targets, limits and controls in the very near future to implement these necessary changes.
We don’t really have a choice: our cities will become more compact as shifts in energy, finances and demographics transform us. We need to decide if we trudge reluctantly toward this new future or if we embrace new actions and a new vision for a more compact and sustainable city.
Manitoba’s Mighty Men?
Re: Victory outside the Perimeter (Letters, Nov. 27)
I loved reading Julien Fradette’s and Bill Knott’s letters in the Winnipeg Free Press regarding the no-brainer of being progressive and changing the Winnipeg Football Club’s nickname from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to the Manitoba Blue Bombers.
I, however, have logic to lay on my fellow football fans. One has to ask: "What is a Blue Bomber?" Sadly, truly, sad failure, one who bombs. Like, 29 years.
How does the Manitoba Mighty Men sound? I would love my fellow Manitobans to weigh in on this idea of changing the nickname of the Winnipeg Football Club to the Manitoba Mighty Men.
Grey Cup musings
Re: FINALLY! (Nov. 25)
Finally, a celebration for two persons named "Chris." The cost of watching Chris Streveler finally raise the Grey Cup? Shirtless. The cost of watching Chris Matthew finally raising his pants? Priceless.
An 18-year vow to wear only shorts? Pantless.
Re: Bill to make pension plans easier to access, more flexible (Nov. 28)
Regarding amendments to the pension act, Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding states that loosening funding provisions could prevent some businesses from going into receivership.
My understanding is that a company on shaky ground is being allowed to drop 15 per cent of its funding requirements to the company pension. What happens when that company still can’t save itself and goes out of business?
Under the old act, the employees would by law have 100 per cent of their pension protected. Now with these wonderful new amendments, it’s only 85 per cent. How is that fair to employees who expected 100 per cent protection?
I’d like to see Fielding’s ample MLA pension reduced by 15 per cent. How would he like it?
Working hard, or hardly working?
Re: Open door on budget process slammed (Nov. 28)
Union spokesman Gord Delbridge says, "The (city) staff would be seriously overworked. They’re already overworked at this point. We’re already cut to the bone."
I’m amazed he can say this with a straight face, after the recent fiasco involving city inspectors spending more time on private business than on city business during their so-called working hours.