Letters, July 20 – Winnipeg Free Press

War on empathy

Re: Tory senator picks side in leadership battle (July 18)

Senator Don Plett says he is supporting Pierre Poilievre because “we have a woke society out there that we need to move back to where we were.”

The pejorative use of the word “woke” gives away the game that Plett, Poilievre and others of their ilk will be playing — just as their right-wing counterparts in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere have done, they are going to make the so-called “War on Woke” the defining issue of any future election campaign.

Looking at other countries that have headed down that path, we know what that means — the Conservatives will be scapegoating and othering Indigenous people, women, the LGBTTQ+ community, immigrants, the poor and more, in an attempt to convince voters equality and compassion are somehow bad things, and if we got rid of them, Canada could go back to some non-existent “good old days” (it’s not a coincidence they were only “good old days” for a chosen few).

Unsurprisingly, much of the momentum and support behind Poilievre’s campaign has come from “freedom convoy” supporters and those opposing vaccination mandates. In some ways, the pandemic has been a 2 1/2-year empathy test; the fact people who don’t care about others and think only of themselves are supporting someone who promises to rein in our “woke” society is another example of the selfish nature of the whole enterprise.

Given that the Pletts and Poilievres of this world consider “woke” (a word that has its origin in the African American community as meaning “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination”) as a negative tells us all we need to know about who they really are.

I have faith Canadians have too much compassion to fall for the racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other prejudices at the root of this campaign.

So in the coming months, every time they use the term “War on Woke” (and believe me, they will use that a lot), be sure to call it what is really is — a war on empathy.

Robbie Scott


Rights include responsibilities

Re: New right-wing provincial party to focus on grassroots concerns: Keystone leader (July 15)

A new political party in our province is good news insofar as it shows people are engaging in politics and contributing to the dialogue we need to have in a robust and healthy democracy.

My concern is that some of the political movements we’ve seen in the last year, from the People’s Party of Canada platform to the “freedom convoy” and now the Keystone Party, seem to have a myopic focus on rights — which are indeed crucial and important, to say the least. Many people have had to fight and even die so all human persons in Canada have equal rights.

However, we also have to remember our responsibilities, which include, among a multitude, protecting the vulnerable and making space for others. Manitobans are all Treaty people, after all, and we who have inherited this great land have also inherited the responsibilities of the treaties.

We must keep our rights front and centre, lest they start to erode, but we must also remember our responsibilities — to our communities and to our country.

James deBeer


Jets need some character

Re: It seems certain Dubois wants to bail on Jets (July 17)

Pierre-Luc Dubois apparently wants out. If so, what can be done?

Maybe the road to resurrection for the Jets is to do what Minnesota did a few years back. Get a number of players who play above their pay grade, but are not considered marquee players — two-way players with work ethic, grit and who have a record of silencing their critics, who fire on all cylinders and on all lines, who have size, speed, scoring ability, good plus-minus records and come to play every day and in every way.

The Jets need to add some character — people who want to be here, are willing to put in the time and effort to build their game and show loyalty to the Jets. Score and win by committee, always be humble but proud, and a little less than kind to the opposition. Play a shut-down, defensive game until (and after) they find their consistent scoring contributors, with some secondary scoring contributions from all lines. Give players a chance to move up or down the lineup based on effort and contribution.

“Hey kid, you have more than what you are showing; come build your game with us, and if it isn’t too much to ask, show us some respect, courtesy and loyalty for being given this chance.”

Pie in the sky, maybe, but this franchise needs a pep talk, and I just offered them one, for what it is worth.

John MacKinnon


Relationships are transformative

Re: Gatherings bring healing in unprecedented time (July 13)

I always read Prof. Niigaan Sinclair’s opinion pieces. They are informative, educational, with a vibrant thread of humanity. As we begin our true journeys of reconciliation, we need elders and teachers to guide our steps.

Sinclair’s recent article was very touching, and spoke to my relationships with my children. We as parents must be ever mindful that most life lessons are caught, not taught. Which speaks to how our relationships are transformative, a gift Sinclair shares clearly with his dad.

Good luck to him on the book. I’m looking forward to reading and getting it signed.

Jack J. Eyer


That’s so metal

Re: Scrap-metal recyclers dubious about province’s anti-theft legislation (July 18)

The theft of catalytic converters is definitely a problem. How about making it illegal for anyone other than muffler shops or auto-repair shops to be selling them to the recyclers? That would probably be simpler for everyone involved.

Most backyard mechanics don’t have the equipment to be working on exhaust systems in their home garages. The recyclers would still get the required information from the repair shops that the government and police want; however, they wouldn’t be dealing with private people bringing in one or two converters at a time. Shops would likely wait until they had a barrel to surrender to make it worth their while.

Doug Ingram

Retired automotive instructor


Maintain existing trees

Re: Lots of green for Winnipeg’s shrinking tree canopy (July 8)

The article states the city parks committee would hold a special meeting shortly to approve the acceptance of up to $7.3 million from the federal government for the city’s urban forest renewal capital budget, resulting in the planting of 70,000 trees.

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Planting more trees is far from an ideal solution. What this city really needs is a permanent year-round tree maintenance program that would cover the city on an ongoing basis by trimming all trees on boulevards, pathways, in parks and other public areas.

Maintaining trees on an ongoing basis on all public properties would be of great benefit to the entire city. Aside from the esthetic advantage, there is a much greater asset to the city — the safety offered by continual tree trimming in the event of inclement weather such as a wind or snow storm.

Living in a corner property home adjacent to a large open area, I know of what I speak — the tree on the boulevard, which has grown to huge proportions and whose branches now are near a light standard and hydro pole, is a virtual safety threat during wind and snow storms.

The City of Winnipeg should seriously consider this option in order to maintain its tree canopy on an ongoing basis.

Ruth Humberg


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