Letters to the editor – May 31, 2012



To the Editor:

In reference to the story (WP, May 17) about the cuts to Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site and Grasslands National Park, I offer the following thoughts.

Our four daughters have spent countless hours at Motherwell Homestead NHS. They watched their grandfather plow the first furrows to open up the “living farm,” they have attended school tours with thousands of other young Saskatchewanians and they have learned about the connections between their past and their present at this marvelous Canadian park.

As residents in the Abernethy area, we have taken visitors from all over the world to learn about this important part of Saskatchewan history. Our children need to learn about the early settlers who came here, their vision for this land and how daily life was for them. In a culture increasingly removed from the land, visitors of all ages learn about where our food comes from.

We can read about this history and we can learn about it on a YouTube video, but there is no substitute for having first-hand experiences about what it might have been like 100 years ago.

We forget much of what we read or watch on a screen, but what child has ever forgotten the miracle of picking a warm, freshly laid egg from a nest, the scratchy feel of straw from the threshing machine on a hot August day, or the delicious smell of bread coming from a woodstove?…

The mandate of Parks Canada reads: “On behalf of the people of Canada, we protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.”

The Motherwell Homestead is a significant example of Canada’s cultural heritage…. The significant cuts to the Motherwell Homestead do not support the mandate. Parks Canada is supported by our tax dollars, and it is vital that we continue to remind the (Stephen) Harper government about what is important to us as Canadians. My Canada definitely includes the Motherwell Homestead and a vibrant national parks system….

I urge the Conservative government to think hard about the choices that they are making on behalf of the people of Canada.

Sue Bland,
Abernethy, Sask.


To the Editor:

Thomas Mulcair is yet again attempting to divide Canadians with his stance against Saskatchewan’s oilsands.

What Mr. Mulcair fails to realize is that responsible resource development benefits the entire country. Instead, Mr. Mulcair wrongly blames the western Canadian oilsands for the rising dollar and challenges in Canada’s manufacturing sector. The NDP would much prefer imposing a carbon tax that would decimate our agriculture and resource sectors. Mr. Mulcair is wrong and should explain himself.


Responsible resource development is vital to our national economy during the global financial storm. The oilsands create billions of dollars in economic growth and hundreds of thousands of high quality jobs throughout the country, from our service to manufacturing sectors.

A recent Canadian Energy Research Institute study showed that the oilsands will create $63 billion in economic spinoffs and 65,000 jobs in Ontario alone over 25 years, along with more economic benefits for British Columbia and Quebec.

While the NDP would rather pit the West against the East, our government is working on behalf of all Canadians. While the NDP continues their war on the oilsands and our economy, our government will continue to focus on jobs and economic growth. That’s why we will continue to support the responsible development of the oilsands — an industry that, directly and indirectly, employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians across the country.

It’s obvious that the NDP doesn’t understand the needs of western Canadians. After all, how could they? They were widely rejected in the last election when western Canadians sent a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government to represent them in Ottawa. Saskatchewanians can be assured that, unlike the NDP, their Conservative members of Parliament will remain focused on creating jobs, driving economic growth and long-term prosperity.

Gerry Ritz, agriculture minister,
Ottawa, Ont.


To the Editor:

On Nov. 25, 1994, I signed with The Canada Life Assurance Company for a 10-year renewable-convertible term policy. I was a smoker at the time and subsequently paid a smoker’s premium.

In March, having quit smoking four years ago, I decided to apply for non-smoker rates on the above-mentioned policy. I received a letter and an application for policy change form.…

The questions were regarding many things such as other life insurance pending, tobacco use, use of illicit drugs, use of alcohol, my citizenship, was I an aircraft pilot, did I participate in any hazardous activity, was I a convicted criminal, my driver’s licence number, any charges for DUI and a complete medical history listing doctors, clinics and hospitals. The final portion wanted a signed authorization to obtain medical and financial information.

I reviewed the questions and answered those that I thought had relevance to the question of smoker versus non-smoker.

I received another letter that stated they could not continue to process my request until I completed and returned the original application. In addition, they stated that to qualify for non-smoker rates, they must continue to have the same mortality risk to the company as they did when the policy was issued.

“If it’s found that the client is not the same mortality risk as they were when they initially applied, we would simply decline the request … and client would continue to pay the premiums based on the smoker rates.”


Realizing that I have nearly 20 years added to mortality risk and being in my mid-60s with some health problems, I believe I know the company’s answer. The policy will require double the amount of premiums in three years with the policy expiring at age 75. I cancelled the policy. My wife had the same problem with Manulife and we cancelled her policy.

In summation, I would urge everyone who has an insurance policy of 10 years or greater to review it to ensure it is still applicable to your situation. Be sure to check for terminal date, premium schedule and method of payout. If you are satisfied, very good. If not, take some action.

Dave Hanline,
Maple Creek, Sask.


To the Editor:

The government’s decision to drop the Film Employment Tax Credit flies in the face of common sense.

Rather than leading to savings, it will result in a net loss of revenue for Saskatchewan and will destroy the film industry, an industry that just a couple years ago premier (Brad) Wall was eager to embrace by appearing in an episode of Corner Gas. Without the Film Tax Credit, Corner Gas would never have happened in Saskatchewan, nor would any of the other projects that have generated more than $600 million in spending in Saskatchewan since the inception of the program.

The government is likely hoping most people in the province don’t know how the program works. The tax credit is a rebate provided on some of the labour costs and the rebates don’t happen until after production is completed. The revenues generated by film production far surpass what the government offers in tax credits, and almost all of that revenue comes from sources outside of Saskatchewan.

A great deal of economic activity in Saskatchewan receives similar support from government incentive programs, including the potash, agriculture, and oil industries.

Tax credits are an essential element in attracting film production, and that’s why every province in Canada, many U.S. states and most European countries offer film tax credits, because they lead to a rise in general revenues and employment.

No tax credits equals no film production equals dropping revenues.

Film production brings in money from outside the province and pumps it into local businesses. It creates jobs in the knowledge economy and with shows such as Corner Gas, Wapos Bay and The Englishman’s Boy, it brings Saskatchewan stories to the world.

As Brent Butt has asked, why would Saskatchewan want to be the only province in Canada that doesn’t have such a program?


Mark Wihak,
Regina, Sask.

Sue Bland,