Winnipeg Op Ed|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 4 most recent journal entries recorded in
Letters to the Editor - Commentary's LiveJournal:
|Tuesday, April 11th, 2006|
Response to "4 political parties offer troops unwavering support"
Gratuitous paste of article so I can supply my response.( Free Press articleCollapse )
Here’s what I sent as a response. They haven’t called to confirm authorship, so I assume it’ll be swallowed by the pro-war machine that is the Free Press.
It's a shame Gordon O'Connor, the new Defence Minister, used the tired argument that Canadian occupational forces are in Afghanistan for our security. For a brief period after the September 11th attacks, questions surfaced regarding the origins of terrorism, but in the time since the claim that terrorists "hate our freedom" has one out.
Countries like Afghanistan have been subject to the meddling influence of self-interested western nations for generations. Is it any wonder that youth are so easily convinced to take up a struggle against foreign intervention?
Canada's continued involvement in countries like Afghanistan and Haiti does the opposite of guaranteeing our security. We are inviting attacks on our cities by perpetuating attacks in theirs.
|Monday, February 20th, 2006|
I see there's a bit of interest in this. Ideally you all will post letters and comment on them. I'd say only 1 or 2 days of the week do I actually feel a letter to the Ed is worth commenting on.
Fraser Institute mistaken
Re: Report rings alarm bells on web drugs (Feb. 16).
I almost fell off my chair laughing at Brett Skinner's (Fraser Institute) contention that upholding the "spirit of NAFTA... would repair our trade relationship with the U.S."
Imagine: Manitoba makes the small, sincere gesture of gutting a prosperous, perfectly legal industry in deference to U.S. patent laws and suddenly all is forgiven. The Bush administration, which cares little for laws of any kind, will immediately see the error of its ways, cancel the duties on softwood and return our $5 billion.
It must be a wonderful planet that the Fraser Institute lives on. How do the rest of us get there?
And then Manitoba will say "Hey, would you mind not shunting your water into the Red River? And North Dakota will say "Oh, you guys *don't* want us to do that? Our mistake!"
|Sunday, February 19th, 2006|
Feb 14, Free Press
No letters on Sunday, so I'm going back in time.
Big banks aren't so bad
IT is with concern that I read The Unbanked by Brian Bechtel in your Feb. 10 issue. The article does a disservice to readers who need factual information about access to banking services. Mr. Bechtel does not seem to be aware of the banking services available to low-income Canadians. And the suggestion banks have "closed their doors" and raised barriers to discourage low-income customers is completely wrong. Let's look at the facts.
Eight Canadian banks offer low-fee accounts, with monthly fees of $4 or less. Under federal law, you can open a bank account with two pieces of identification: no minimum deposits or minimum balances are required and you don't have to be employed. The fact is that Canada has a highly banked population, a fact confirmed in a study by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre which found that 99 per cent of Canadians have an account with a financial institution and, of the one per cent that didn't, 80 per cent said they didn't want one.
Moreover, the suggestion by Mr. Bechtel that consumers can't cash a government cheque without an account is also incorrect. Anyone can cash a federal government cheque of up to $1,500 for free at a bank as long as they have two pieces of identification (only one piece is needed if it bears a signature and photograph). You do not have to be a customer or even have a bank account.
And while they don't call them payday loans, banks do offer small, short-term loans in the form of overdraft protection, lines of credit and credit cards, with all of Canada's largest banks offering low rate credit cards with interest rates in the range of 10.5 per cent to 12.9 per cent. This type of credit can be accessed when needed and at much lower rates than a payday lender would charge. And it should be noted that ID requirements are stricter at payday loan outlets than they are at banks and you require a bank account to get a payday loan.
Mr. Bechtel also has his facts wrong about a bank's decisions to open and close branches. The decisions about where new branches should be opened and where they will be closed have always been business decisions made by the banks based on customer demand and traffic, not the relative wealth of the neighbourhood. The decision to close a branch is only made after careful study is done. And, when branches have to close, there is a formal process required by law that must be followed in each case and this is monitored by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). As the FCAC commissioner acknowledges, however, a branch closure is a legitimate business decision.
Readers deserve to know about the banking services available to them through the banks. It's unfortunate that articles continue to appear from commentators who clearly don't know the facts. Canada's banks are committed to ensuring all Canadians have access to banking services if they wish. To learn more, visit www.cba.ca/basicbanking or call 1-800-263-0231 for a copy of Serving Canadian Consumers: Access to Basic Banking Services.
Public and Community Affairs
Canadian Bankers Association
Every bank I've heard about wants to put a week's hold on any deposited cheques, and a week's hold on anything deposited through the bank machine (which is where most people deposit, since most branches close so early).
How many people do you know making less than $15 an hour can wait around a full week to get their money?
If Canadians are so fully banked, and large banks are a decent alternative, how does the Bankers' Association explain why cheque cashing stores are doing so well?
Feb. 19, Free Press
Positive dialogue needed
In the editorial entitled Blasphemy and Law (Feb. 15), the editorial writer discusses events surrounding the cartoon controversy and ends by asserting that "there must be a freedom to be offensive if there is to be any freedom at all because offence can only be personal and subjective."
I would like to ask: Does this "freedom to be offensive" include writing and professing hate propaganda? Making anti-Semitic, racist or homophobic remarks? Of course, not. Some journalists seem to conveniently forget the unwritten limits of free speech, particularly when they feel this freedom is being threatened. There is such a thing as responsible journalism, which chooses to challenge people's thinking without offending their beliefs, principles, racial background or way of life. These are all very personal and subjective matters, which a journalist may or may not personally agree with, but is expected to respect.
Journalists have the unique and coveted opportunity to express their opinions and be heard. They have a huge role to play in informing the public and critically analysing issues. However, with every right comes responsibility; with power and authority comes the importance of exercising restraint. The role of responsible journalism is not to be offensive, but to use wisdom and good judgment. The type of "us versus them" language used in this editorial will not bridge gaps but burn bridges. We need to participate in positive dialogue to create real peace and freedom in the world.
It's also illegal to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater. But the comics weren't hate speech, and they didn't put anyone in danger (except for all the people killed by angry Muslims).
Telling someone they're doing something wrong isn't hate speech.
If we stop saying anything that might offend someone, what's left for anyone to say?