Longer view of history
Re: Pallister criticized for Manitoba 150 statement (May 12)
Manitoba has a long treaty relationship between First Nations and those who arrived much later, and as the Manitoba Museum states in one of its education programs, we are all treaty people. If Premier Brian Pallister does not fully understand the importance of expanding the vision of 150 years of Manitoba history to the millennia preceding Manitoba’s creation as a province of Canada, maybe the leader of the Opposition, Wab Kinew, is better qualified to speak to this matter? I would like to see both leaders embrace a more inclusive vision of our province’s history by celebrating "Manitoba 150+."
This expanded vision was not apparent in Premier Pallister’s Manitoba Day address, in which reference to First Nations’ rich history was notably absent. But it is not too late to learn from the example set by the city of Vancouver three years ago when it consciously chose to celebrate "Canada 150+" at virtually every event instead of adopting the more limited and restricted vision of Canada 150.
We have just over half a year left during which our premier could set a new and more inclusive view of Manitoba’s history by adding a simple plus sign in every reference that he makes in order to add a context of thousands of years of First Nations’ histories to the last 150 years.
As a member of the Charleswood Historical Society I worked on a proposal for a Manitoba 150 project to create improved public access to extended parkland in Ridgewood West that moves a planned road and saves big Bluestem grass and tall grass prairie along the Harte Trail. Our historical society chose to submit a grant to further develop and preserve the heritage of Caron House this year, the last remaining farm home on the Assiniboine River, built in 1904, as an important example of settler history.
I supported the grant application to the Winnipeg Foundation this year, with the suggestion that we consider an interpretive boardwalk proposal next year for a Manitoba 150+ project paying tribute to at least 300 years of history in our community on a site that hosts tall grass. Adjacent to Charleswood is the Kuyper archeological site, with evidence of more than 5,000 years of human habitation. That’s older than many of the Egyptian pyramids, right in our own backyard!
I am not personally satisfied celebrating a mere 150 years of history, when our local history is many thousands of years old!
Len Van Roon Jr.
Look at U.S.S.R.’s legacy
Re: Soviet Union’s sacrifices overlooked (Letters, May 13)
Francisco Valenzuela seems to have forgotten that the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and others are paid tribute every year at springtime because they were "the liberators of Europe" in the Second World War, whereas the Soviet Union became the occupiers and imprisoned Eastern Europe.
After the Second World War, eastern Europe fell under the iron fist of Josef Stalin, with no hope of freedom or independence for over a half-century. The man was responsible for the death of millions in gulags, by forced famines, forced resettlements, executions of political prisoners and ethnic minorities.
The threat of fascism from Nazi Germany was replaced by Soviet authoritarianism. The U.S.S.R. brutally suppressed the 1953 East German uprising, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the 1968 Prague Spring, etc., killing and imprisoning thousands and forcing thousands to flee. For more than 50 years they enslaved millions — not liberated them, as Valenzuela would have us believe.
Anyone who follows history even marginally would realize Socialism, Marxism-Leninism or Communism is a "wolf in sheep’s clothing." The examples are there for all to see: Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Kim Jung-un. None has conducted wars of liberation; therefore none should be "paid tribute."
Good news on Manitoba Day
Re: Bank of Montreal building to become Métis heritage centre (May 12)
Congratulations to David Chartrand and the Manitoba Métis Federation for buying the historic BMO bank building at Portage and Main for a Métis museum. This is a win-win situation, as it provides a home for the long-anticipated Métis museum and finds a use for a beautiful building.
The Métis were at the forefront of creating the province of Manitoba 150 years ago, since the federal government did not want another province but a Canadian territory. The provisional government of Louis Riel fought for local rights and responsible government. The federal politicians at the time were racist and did not like dealing with Indigenous protesters, but they held out for a better future and the recognition of Indigenous and French rights.
Congratulations to BMO management for dealing with the MMF respectfully. They provide a role model for other Winnipeg businesses and corporations. As Chartrand noted: the Métis have a history of being entrepreneurs.
We look forward to seeing the Métis heritage exhibits when it is completed. This was great news on Manitoba Day.
Debt and deaths
Re: Government spending without scrutiny (Letters, May 13)
I was disappointed to read Karen Lalonde’s letter, which opened with fake news and went downhill from there. Her first-line assertion that "Parliament is not sitting" is untrue, but she could be forgiven for thinking so as her MP, Ted Falk, has not spoken a word in the House since March 11. Perhaps if she wants representation, she should take it up with him.
Her letter proceeds to cite statistics on private debt/GDP, misrepresenting them as related to government spending. Our government’s debt-to-GDP sat pre-COVID at 34 per cent, not nearly 300 per cent. The 300 per cent number (262 per cent, in reality) refers to private debt, which has grown as a result of the squeeze on the working class: productivity and cost of living have grown, but wages have not kept pace. To maintain the standard of living they work for and expect, Canadians have borrowed.
Unlike the government, Canadians cannot print money, and borrow at rates closer to 20 per cent than two per cent. Economically, it makes far more sense for the government to spend than it does to ask Canadians to dig even deeper.
Finally, almost as a throwaway comment, she says that a second wave of the virus is tolerable, for the sake of the economy. This permission of certain deaths for the sake of an abstract and meaningless number such as debt to GDP is staggering to think about.
The fiscal conservatives that bemoaned debt being passed to their children in 1985, when debt first hit current levels, could be great-grandparents now. As such, they should be far more concerned about the real threat to their lives posed by the virus than their imaginary sword of Damocles, now surely rusting away.