Hydro must come clean
Re: Metrics paint incomplete picture of Hydro’s future (Opinion, July 14)
I accept writer Alex Buchner’s opinion that Hydro has a responsibility to present "an integrated financial forecast" to the Public Utilities Board, as requested by the Consumers’ Association and the Manitoba Power Users Group.
The PUB was put in place years ago to regulate rates charged by Manitoba Crown corporations and, in part, to maintain proper corporate behaviour to avoid undue risks. A case in point is the PUB hearing into how Manitoba Telephone System was administering international subsidiary MTX during the mid-1980s, which caused MTS to abandon that venture as unprofitable and poorly managed.
It’s imperative that Bill 35, which obliges Hydro to meet certain debt-to-capitalization targets that will lead to rising rates, gets blocked from the next sitting of the legislature, allowing more time for ratepayers to insist Hydro come before the PUB. We are facing the worst economic paralysis in years; how can small businesses cope with the rising costs of electricity, given all the costs of restarting after 18 months of losses?
If Premier Brian Pallister is looking for a thank-you, this may be a place to show up .
Ted Scoles, Winnipeg
Starlight deal lacks details
Re: Delay sought on Portage Place redevelopment plan (July 15)
So Starlight Investments needs help financing its proposed $400-million redevelopment of Portage Place mall. But it’s short $300 million. Enter the federal government. It was asked to provide $50 million in cash and about $250 million via a loan through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. The key word is "loan."
Starlight is not asking for a mortgage secured by the property. So the feds would be in for $300 million, which I suspect could be treated as "equity."
I assume that Starlight could use that "equity" to get mortgage financing. Could it raise $100 million to cover the shortfall? Or could it raise more? How much actual cash will Starlight have in the deal?
Perhaps Mayor Brian Bowman and councillors Scott Gillingham, Jeff Browaty, Cindy Gilroy and Sherri Rollins could tell me what I’m missing. One other thing: will Starlight investors personally guarantee the $250 million CMHC loan, or are taxpayers guaranteeing it?
Barry Elkin, Winnipeg
Snitch line also egregious
Re: An egregious assault on the judicial process (Editorial, July 14).
Why wasn’t the same outrage and revulsion shown by the Free Press when the provincial government set up the snitch line asking Manitobans to spy and report on each other?
I suggest that you next write an editorial about the snitch line. Using the words of the editorial about Chief Justice Glenn Joyal as a template, the new editorial could read: "The snitch line is an egregious assault on the constitutional rights of Manitobans and must be denounced in the strongest possible terms and should be followed by corrective action that reflects the gravity of the offence. The snitch line is, in no uncertain terms, an outrage. Such an assault on the constitutional rights of Manitobans cannot be allowed to go unpunished."
Ray Kathwaroon, Winnipeg
Educators embrace change
Re: Education reform overdue (Letter, July 15)
Letter writer Peter Kaufmann, who works in commercial real estate and twice ran for mayor of Winnipeg, asserts that people are outspoken about Bill 64 partly because "educators don’t like change." I disagree.
Educators embrace change to all aspects of their practice, with the goal being improved experiences and outcomes for their students. They are among those professions that allocate time and resources every year to constantly reviewing their practices in an effort to make them better.
People — and this is increasingly extending well beyond educators, members of any one political party, or any vocal minority — don’t like Bill 64 because they know it is not about improving education. It is supposedly about saving money, although how it will save money has yet to be shared, and is much more about consolidating power over decisions that affect all Manitobans.
Kaufmann also references that Manitoba students are "near the bottom in outcomes." I suspect he is referencing international test scores, which aren’t intended for such comparisons. Still, those with knowledge in this field know that improving test scores or student experiences is more about meeting the basic needs of those students who struggle the most with such assessments.
Few of the concerns with Bill 64 that I have heard relate to funding models. I can see how someone who works in real estate would like the idea of separating school funding from property taxes. I think few others are worried about how that taxation is done, and most are just concerned that education is adequately funded, which it currently is not.
Educators aren’t opposed to change. Most are likely frustrated by regimes that value test scores over much more important indicators of student well-being and success. A massive overhaul with this as the goal will not bring students any more success than it did when it was the focus in the past.
Hopefully, we elect or re-elect only those mayors and premiers whose ideas reflect those of the majority of good citizens, and value progressive decisions as much as they do cutting services. Some things are worth the investment.
Tyler Milloy, Winnipeg
Bill not anti-Indigenous
Re: Pallister careens toward his day of reckoning (Opinion, July 15)
While I read Niigaan Sinclair regularly, I sometimes cringe at his obvious bias but keep an open mind while looking at issues from a different point of view.
However, his comment about Bill 57 and his assertion that it bans Indigenous people’s right to protest is utterly false. The word "Indigenous" does not even show up in the bill. The bill is meant to protect infrastructure, not ban protests. Protests are protected under the Canadian charter.
That Sinclair has insinuated that Bill 57 is anti-Indigenous I find deeply offensive. He should take that sentence back and apologize to the province of Manitoba.
Raymond Muller, Winnipeg
Keep Clarke, remove premier
Re: Praising colonists costs Pallister cabinet minister (July 15)
As far as Eileen Clarke’s resignation as Manitoba’s Indigenous and northern affairs minister is concerned, the wrong person resigned. It should have been Brian Pallister, the Trump-cloned premier of Manitoba.
Ralph Paul, Winnipeg
Church sign offensive
Considering the horrific news around the Catholic residential schools and the unmarked graves being found, I was insulted to see a Catholic church on Pembina Highway with a huge sign saying "All lives matter," showing only a Caucasian boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. Shameful!
Why not show a number of children of different ethnicities? Who on earth OKed this?
Louise Lagimodiere, Winnipeg
Deux official languages
Re: Appointment creates opportunity for change (Editorial, July 9)
The editorial board commends the appointment of Mary Simon as Canada’s next governor general, even though she speaks only English and Inuktituk. I can’t help but wonder how your editorial might have read if she spoke French and Inuktituk. Deux poids, deux mesures?
Gilbert Savard, Winnipeg