Wolseley traffic consultation flawed
Re: One less speed bump on path to traffic-calming measures (Feb. 5)
This article highlights a growing problem in our city: small, special-interest groups trying to make change at the expense of a larger majority. In this case, the proposed rules will make it possible for 25 per cent of the population to inflict their will on the 75 per cent majority, for "traffic-calming." I see two problems with this.
First, the democratic process is being sabotaged by a small group. If 70 per cent of the people is too high a threshold, then I can see moving it down to 50 per cent plus one, a simple majority. But any lower than that invites abuse of the rules.
In Wolseley, we are now embroiled in a public debate about "traffic-calming" and bicycle paths. The plans were promoted by a small special-interest group and a small group of city planners, also bicycle enthusiasts. The plan was poorly publicized by the planning, property and development department and Coun. Cindy Gilroy. Many people still do not know about it, but a few people did and organized a grassroots protest. I think it is apparent the vast majority are against the plans presented by the city. This should not happen, but the new rules almost assure that it will.
Coun. Matt Allard hopes council will support the changes. For an analogy, in the business world, if a product is offered for $70 and it is not selling, the company would recognize the problem — the product is unsuitable or unneeded, the public does not want it. They would discontinue the product or go out of business. They would not drop the price to $25.
Allard and the city planners should change their outlook. Rather than gauge their success by how many speed bumps (and other traffic-choking items) they install, they should make the public fully aware of their intentions and consider the percentage of satisfied citizens as the measure of success.
Second, on a practical level, I believe open communication in the early stages would make everyone aware and able to express their concerns. Colourful handbills should be delivered to every household and they should denote the pros and cons of any proposal. Then people can decide. In Wolseley, some bland "Walk Bike Project" signs were posted. But they did not say anything about major traffic disruption throughout the area and the problems this would cause for the majority of people.
The alternative to open communication is bitter politics on many issues. If a small group wants something disruptive, then someone has to form another group to fight it if they disagree. We hire councillors and planners to find balanced solutions to problems, not to support every interest group that bangs on their door. Taxpayers are not getting value for our money. Most of us just want to live our lives, not spend our time fighting poor policy.
Closing jail would have steep costs
Re: Build better facility in Dauphin (Letters, Feb. 6)
I am a lawyer in Dauphin and would like to contribute to this discussion.
There is a fundamental problem with Premier Brian Pallister’s point of view when he pits economic development against the Dauphin jail and the justice system. The jail is not a business. It and the justice system belong to a category of things like roads, schools and hospitals, which keep a community healthy and going. When prisoners are taken far away from their families, recidivism rates rise.
People rightfully are concerned about law and order and they sometimes expect police and Crown attorneys to perform miracles. The justice system is expensive. Restorative justice, rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, education, addiction treatment and healing all play a big part in reducing cost. You want to keep cases from going through court. You want to try to keep people out of jail because it is so expensive. When prisoners are warehoused hundreds of kilometres away from where crimes happened, restorative justice becomes difficult if not impossible.
Rehabilitation is more challenging because prisoners are at greater distance from their families. (This is even a bigger problem for children in jail, but right now Manitoba has only one children’s jail and it is in Winnipeg.) The rates of recidivism rise.
I am all for entrepreneurs forging ahead. But we also have community responsibilities to meet if we want healthy society. A properly functioning justice system is a community social responsibility that needs to be here.
Pallister’s austerity is devastating Manitoba, and not just in the short term. For years ahead, we’ll be trying to recover from him. If you think deficits are damning and difficult to deal with, you haven’t yet seen the impact that the current Pallister austerity is going to have on Manitoba.
As a sidebar to this, if we want to have a functioning middle class (and not just a few extremely wealthy people and a whole lot of poor people), then we need a healthy, responsible, socially conscious government that is looking out for the middle class and working for us.
Pallister’s is not a healthy government. He is not working for us. Poor MLA Brad Michaleski doesn’t seem to understand that he’s just a tool.
Analysis wrong on economy, debt
Re: Morneau’s spending plans put burden on taxpayers (Feb. 6)
Tegan Milagros and Milagros Palacios use the same old Fraser Institute formula in their opinion piece.
First, by omission, they ignore the household and economic benefits of government spending and focus only on debt. So, they act as if improving human capital by providing education, health services and poverty reduction has no value for Canadian citizens and the Canadian economy. They are dead wrong about that.
Second, they don’t reveal the debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio, the relationship between debt and capacity to service it, which has grown only moderately under the Trudeau Liberals.
Third, they declare that the sky is falling for future generations by focusing only on the size of the debt and not how future generations will benefit from the goods and services it produces for Canadians.
And, many of those with high incomes will continue to praise this unbalanced analysis because small government helps them to maintain their privilege and avoid contributing their wealth to other Canadians.
We are all Spartacus
Kirk Douglas made a lot of great movies. He had a very fulfilling 103 years. He has a lot of fans who will always remember his great performances as an actor.
My heart and prayers go out to his family. Kirk Douglas, RIP.
Hallandale Beach, Fla.