Individual rights must coincide with public interest


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/09/2021 (626 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As a resident of Charleswood who frequents the Charleswood mall — there are few stores on the
strip that I’m not in weekly and if we’re talking Safeway and  Shoppers it’s more like daily — I was pleasantly surprised to find most customers stayed masked during that brief period when they we were allowed to unmask.

They wore them even though they weren’t required to do so and most outlets didn’t require mask use. Some threw caution to the wind, however, so here we are back to mandatory masking indoors and pulling out our vaccine card to gain entry into many establishments.

The government or regional health or whoever makes decisions about loosening restrictions assumed the unvaccinated were responsible enough to get their shot so they could not only protect themselves but others around them. Now there is no choice in the matter. Front-line workers must get vaccinated.

Despite the flip-flopping on mask-wearing and delay in vaccine mandate, this is one of the times I agree with a government decision to mandate for the public good. I am not a proponent of government superseding individual rights. But when the rights of individuals put others at risk, those rights are forfeited.  

There are times though when government makes decisions that not only infringe on the rights of individuals but the decisions are not in the best interests of the public. This can and does happen when a group of individuals that has no clout comes up against a multi-million dollar industry that the government happens to support.

That’s the conclusion I came to after reading Bill Massey’s book Of Pork and Potatoes. In his book, Massey chronicles how the small community of Big Island (Grosse Isle — 15 minutes  northwest of Winnipeg) has, for the past 15 years, been urging various departments within the provincial government to enforce regulations with respect to the operation of hog barns in their community. 

These regulations include manure management, to control the pollution in ground water, and the number of pigs housed in the barns. Limiting hogs to the number that was authorized when the facility was set up is one way of keeping the unbearable odour from the barns tolerable. Despite copious correspondence and numerous meetings, their complaint about pollution and lack of regulation enforcement has not been resolved.   

The government has chosen to ignore the request for proper oversight of hog barns at Big Island but the fight will continue, according to Massey. The new premier, once in office, should review the file and resolve the injustice to this group of people. And at the same time, direct relevant departments to ensure regulations are being enforced in the existing barns that proliferate our province, as well as reinstate the moratorium on the expansion of hog barns. Because in the end, monitoring and minimizing the pollution these barns create will be in the best interest of the public.

Donna Minkus

Donna Minkus
Charleswood community correspondent

Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.

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