Making spirits bright
Thank you to everyone involved in lighting up the legislative building grounds to celebrate the 150 days before Manitoba’s birthday.
The results are spectacular and stunning.
The 300,000 LED lights decorating the trees, a stylized moose, whale and Manitoba sign, as well as a canopy of lights on the sidewalk, make for a winter fairyland.
A walk through the area at night cannot but help lift one’s spirits.
Matters of integrity
The removal of Andrew Scheer as leader (and yes, it was a removal, carefully camouflaged as a resignation) has shown the ethical bankruptcy of the Conservative party. On Dec. 12, I watched an interview on CBC News Network with a member of the faction "Conservative Victory." This faction was advocating that Scheer step down.
The gentleman stated that a leader should be given one chance to win an election and, if he or she is unsuccessful, that person should be removed.
I recall Robert Stanfield, one of the most ethical leaders in Canadian history. He was unsuccessful in three elections against Pierre Trudeau. His lack of success was, to a significant degree, the result of Trudeaumania and a skilful handing of a minority situation by Trudeau from 1972-74.
I found it stunning that this activist would argue that leaders of this level of integrity should be tied to a one-shot agenda.
The Conservative party stands for nothing but immediate success and, in truth, is merely an alliance of the opportunistic. I say this as someone who supported this entity (Progressive Conservative and Conservative) for more than four decades.
Some of your readers have characterized the Conservative party as a dinosaur. I can vote for a dinosaur, but I’ll be darned if I will vote for an unethical dinosaur.
Whether it’s drier shrubbery resulting in unmatched wildfire devastation in Australia, record-breaking flooding in Europe, the mass deforestation and incineration of the Amazonian rainforest (home to a third of all known terrestrial plant, animal and insect species), single-use plastics clogging life-bearing waters, unprecedented hurricanes, a B.C. midsummer’s snowfall, the gradually dying of endangered whale species, geologically invasive/destructive fracking, or a myriad of other categories of large-scale toxic pollutant emissions and dumps — there’s discouragingly insufficient political will planet-wide to sufficiently address it.
But there’s always plenty of big-business "ostrich syndrome" to maintain it.
Meanwhile, as they mock climate-change activism, what seems to induce euphoria for the superfluously wealthy — in particular, U.S. President Donald ("What, me worry?") Trump — are job creation and economic stimulation, however intangible when compared to the industrial destruction and max-exploitation of our natural environment/resources.
To such mega-money-minded men, "practical" greenhouse-gas-reducing solutions will always be predicated on economic "reality," the latter which is mostly created and entrenched according to fossil-fuel industry interests.
Indeed, for a leader to try reworking this "reality" would seriously risk his/her own governance, however big a landslide election victory he or she may have won.
Frank Sterle Jr.
White Rock, B.C.
Re: Small nuclear reactors no solution to climate change (Dec. 20)
In his opinion piece, Dave Taylor makes a number of incorrect assumptions.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are neither a "fantasy" nor an "unproven concept on paper." They are real.
This week, two floating reactors started providing electricity to the town of Pevek in Russia. These are the world’s first SMRs. Christmas lights were switched on using electricity from the reactors. The town will start receiving 64 megawatts of electricity from the reactors early next year.
SMRs can be deployed in remote communities in Canada that still use fossil fuels to generate electricity. This is because nuclear is a cleaner form of electricity generation, and it’s simply not economical to build hundreds of kilometres of power lines to connect these communities to the grid.
SMRs can also be used to provide emissions-free energy to existing grids or off-grid power to industry or mines.
The author also suggests the cost of nuclear energy in Ontario is high. According to the Ontario Energy Board’s 2019 Regulated Price Plan Supply Cost Report, the cost of nuclear was eight cents per kilowatt hour. That’s 4.4 cents per kilowatt hour lower than the average price of electricity in Ontario. Only hydroelectricity costs less in Ontario.
The November 2019 memorandum of understanding between Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan to develop SMRs is the beginning of a transformation of our energy sector.
The critical transition to a low-carbon economy will be almost impossible without the reliable, safe and clean energy that nuclear technology provides.
As clearly stated by the International Energy Association in its May 2019 report, nuclear power is required to meet our global emissions reduction targets.
President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
Systemic disparities affect health
Re: Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study (Dec. 11) and 18-year disparity in life expectancy in city: WRHA (Dec. 19)
Stark gaps in life expectancy in Winnipeg is big news, and we appreciate the high-profile coverage. The WRHA’s recognition of the need "to bolster our efforts in really reducing some of those inequities and disparities" is admirable, and urgent action is required. Urgent action both to support those suffering preventable poor health and to sustain our health-care system.
But we hope the concluding statement pointing to actions needed was misunderstood or misrepresented: "such as developing more education and recreation programs to promote healthy living."
Colonization, racism, discrimination and unequal access to power and resources in social and political structures have been recognized by public health experts as root causes of health gaps. Affected communities know this and have called upon multiple levels of government to work collaboratively on solutions.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, also released a report recently. She describes health gaps as a result of, in part, how we treat each other: "When we stigmatize people, we affect their chances for a long and healthy life."
A focus on health education and individual behavior change distracts us from understanding and addressing the root causes of health gaps. It stigmatizes groups of people by suggesting they are to blame for their health status and fails to recognize that opportunities for health and well-being are driven by wise policy decisions and public investment.
Let’s listen to communities with lived experience and public health experts to address the systemic injustices that drive health gaps and hurt us all.
When we improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged and reduce inequities in society, we all benefit.
Advocacy committee, Manitoba Public Health Association