Letters, Jan. 21 – Winnipeg Free Press


Apology is not enough

Re: BMO apologizes for Indigenous man’s arrest (Jan. 17)

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The prejudices extant within the Bank of Montreal and the Vancouver Police Department are on full, ugly display.

For the BMO, “sorry” is not enough. Perhaps a contribution to the granddaughter’s education savings account, an endowment of some Aboriginal programs and hiring more Aboriginal people would be in order, in addition to “we’re so sorry.” Put your money where your mouth is! Perhaps the Vancouver Police Department could benefit from more diversity in its ranks, as well.

As an aside, for the BMO these kinds of biases are nothing new. About 30 years ago, my wife entered the BMO to have a certified cheque drafted to pay her father for a car we were purchasing from him. The cheque was to be drawn against our joint account, which had ample funds. My wife was told that the transaction would require my signature. Apparently a woman couldn’t be trusted to complete the transaction. I have never dealt with BMO since. I never will.

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Tom Pearson

Indian Wells, Calif.

 

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Iran should pay costs

Re: Plane crash leaves friends in Canada wondering what to do with belongings (Jan. 17)

I can understand the outpouring of grief and sympathy for the families and victims of the downed Ukrainian aircraft by Iran. I get it. But what I don’t get is the $25,000 to the Canadian victims’ families. If anything, Iran should have to do this. Or the Ukrainian airline or government. Or, if one wants to go to the extreme, the U.S. government.

From my perspective, the Canadian approach is nuts. Where, and under what circumstances, do we draw the line?

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A very sad situation has, quite frankly, turned into a Liberal government vote-buying endeavour.

Victor Lysenko

Winnipeg

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Homelessness and humanity

Re: City demolishes homeless encampments (Jan. 16)

In July 2019, the city received a report costing $116,000 on traffic implications if Portage and Main were opened to pedestrians.

A 2017 Dillon Consulting study cost $134,000 on transportation ramifications if Portage and Main were opened in regards to buses.

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In 2012, a study was conducted on the cost of widening Kenaston Boulevard, before the legal dispute over the former Kapyong Barracks site had been settled.

Last week, in frigid weather, a group of dwellings of the homeless were “dozed.” It is estimated that there are 1,600 homeless people in Winnipeg, and increasing.

Every year, politicians and business leaders meet and some spend the night outside in a fundraiser.

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Where was the plan for the homeless of “dozed dwellings”? What is the plan or study for homelessness in Winnipeg? We plan and provide revenue, and studies, even for the future, when it involves transportation, business and concrete.

What about the homeless — where is the revenue, where is the planning?

Bill Schick

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Winnipeg

 

It horrifies me to read about the destruction of another camp of homeless people. How, in a so-called “civilized” society, can we tolerate the brutal treatment of these marginalized people?

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During the coldest time of the year, their pitiful little “homes” are destroyed by order of the City of Winnipeg. Can our arrogant, inhumane leaders proudly call themselves upstanding Canadians?

Surely we have the capacity to do better. Rather than building more roads and circuses, we should be finding a solution, or at least assistance, to house these unfortunates.

After the Second World War, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of refugees from eastern Europe streamed into West Germany, a country in ruins, with people living in the basements of their bombed homes.

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Small temporary homes were built, big empty homes in the country utilized, and shelters were found for these desperate refugees. They were, through no fault of their own, homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs. More often than not, they had lost children, parents, husbands; their lives were desperate but they were given a roof over their heads, a bed, and a little to eat, at a time when nobody had much to eat. Gradually they were able to return to normal life, and many came to Canada to start again.

And what about our own poor, who suffer the debilitating effects of intergenerational trauma, mental illness or sheer misfortune? We destroy even their miserable tents, and say, “Oh, they can go to a shelter.”

Where is your humanity, proud Canadians?

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Susanne Olver

Winnipeg

 

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Failure to consult not surprising

Re: Funding for flood channels nowhere in sight (Jan. 18) and Premier’s consultation claim on flood outlets questioned (Nov. 14, 2019)

Dylan Robertson’s breakdown of the Pallister government’s failure to consult with Indigenous communities affected by the Lake Manitoba outlet channel is hardly a surprise, given the premier’s reticence to even have them at the table on this and other specific issues. It raises numerous concerns in my mind as someone who considers themselves a Lake Manitoba stakeholder.

Unfortunately, the other Lake Manitoba stakeholders seem to think Pallister is on the right track on this, and some are pushing him to get these channels built as soon as possible, which of course means bulldozing through any assessment and consultation proceedings.

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At a cottage association annual general meeting last July, MLA Derek Johnson gave stakeholders an update on the channel progress, specifically with reference to consultation; he suggested with confidence that consultation would be over within a year. People at that meeting asked why we needed to consult with Indigenous peoples, anyway.

Leaving aside the obvious racism implied in that comment, it’s perhaps fair to wonder why the government has refused to consult properly, given that the communities around the channel and those around the lake have a vested interest in this, too, because when Lake Manitoba floods, they are also affected. The residents of Lake St. Martin can attest to that.

When I challenged Johnson on his “one year consultation” claim, he couldn’t give a straight answer.

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Robertson reported further on the issue on Nov. 14 (Premier’s consultation claim on flood outlets questioned), for those who care to inform themselves. When you read that article you can come to no other conclusion than it’s the Pallister government that is to blame for this whole mess. Pallister would have you believe that it’s the federal government changing goalposts, but it’s Pallister’s refusal to acknowledge goalposts even exist that is causing the problem. The province’s own regulators and documents, as detailed in the article, prove this point.

Consultation with Indigenous communities isn’t a reflection of “white guilt” or a process of decolonizing society. It’s simply a right that must be observed. It’s the duty of our elected officials to engage in fair dealing, because if the situation were reversed, we would be the ones demanding that fair dealing if we were in the position of those communities.

This is an idea which, sadly, a lot of Lake Manitoba stakeholders fail to take into consideration.

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Will Jones

Winnipeg

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