Tuesday’s letters: Closing legislature shop a blow to artists

The gift shop is seen during a tour of the Federal Building outside the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday August 12, 2015. Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Edmonton Sun

The UCP government intends to close Alberta Branded and I am heartsick about the loss of this world-class gallery.

Alberta Branded is a wonderful gallery/shop. It offers government an opportunity to showcase the extraordinary talent of our professional artists and artisans. It provides tourists an opportunity to buy meaningful, one-of-a-kind, collectable mementos of their visit.

It gives MLAs the opportunity to support local talent by purchasing artwork for events and visitors. It provides local professional artists and artisans a vital venue to showcase and sell their work. For citizens and visitors, Alberta Branded is an exemplary place to find gifts for holidays, weddings and special occasions.

Every province supports its local artistic community through venues such as Alberta Branded.

Artists and artisans are vitally important to our community — and they deserve government support to showcase and sell their work. Alberta Branded may not be a big money-maker for government but it is an important reputation-maker for the province and the artists/artisans it supports.

There are so few venues of this calibre. It is enormously disappointing that the Speaker’s Office and this government are so short-sighted as to close this exceptional space in the beautiful Federal Building.

Ellie Shuster, president, Sculptors’ Association of Alberta

UCP takes page from Trump playbook

Re. “Legislature session completes UCP teardown of NDP era,” Don Braid, Dec. 6

Among the bills steamrolled through the fall session of the legislature is Bill 22 that fires the elections watchdog who was investigating the UCP’s 2017 leadership campaign. The commissioner had fined party members more than $200,000 for illegal fundraising that was part of some nasty back room dealing to knock out Jason Kenney’s chief rival and get Kenney elected.

The commissioner’s abrupt termination was wrapped in an omnibus bill that was rammed through in four days and justified as a cost-cutting measure. As it turns out, it will actually cost more to run the formerly independent office as part of Elections Alberta.

With this cynical move, the Kenney government appears to be borrowing a page from Donald Trump’s playbook. If you find yourself under investigative heart, obstruct and/or terminate.

Olenka Melnyk, Edmonton

Council must brake on spending

I am appalled at city council’s decision to waste $85,000 to explore the feasibility of a pedestrian mall on the top of the High Level Bridge, especially since there is no entity who is interested in paying for it.

But the decision does not shock me. It has been this council, and this mayor who have plunged us into massive debt, and continue to do so. The provincial government has announced a reduction in funding and yet the mayor will do nothing to the budget to address the shortfall.

Sources say we have 2,000 more city employees than other similar-sized municipalities and the mayor responds that he will not do anything about it. The mayor has put his personal agenda above the needs of the city by refusing to act in a responsible manner and make some tough decisions.

Council has wasted millions on bicycle trails that serve a vast minority, speed-zone changes that have been changed over and over, and most recently, painting the photo radar cars yellow — so that speeders can see them easier.

When will council put the brakes on spending, and stop taxing Edmontonians to death?

Dave Rudichuk, Edmonton

Money squandered on library reno

The construction project to change the outward appearance of our library seems, like most other city projects, to go on forever. This reconfiguration of the exterior walls to avoid any vertical surface, at a cost of, apparently, nearly a hundred million, will serve no functional purpose and if the intent was to improve the appearance of the original building, then most observers will consider it to have failed.

The metallic sloped surfaces are not so steep as to shed snow and ice readily and it is very likely there will be accumulations which will descend, with some force onto vehicles and pedestrians.

That such a squandering of money on a useless project should take place as taxes increase perpetually is particularly nauseating, especially since it is only a few blocks from the tent city on 105A Avenue.

Emil Bizon, Edmonton

Subverting rule of law is odious

Re. “How Canada could free men in Chinese jail,” Opinion, Dec. 6

There is something odious about the suggestion that “creative incompetence” or “subordination of the rule of law and respect for treaty obligations to commercial interests” might have averted the Canada-China confrontation, which followed the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Should the “rule of law” ever be subverted to commercial interests or any other interests for that matter? If so, would it not place a free and transparent democracy like Canada in serious danger of corruption in the future?

SNC-Lavalin was given as an example, when the “rule of law collided with vested commercial interests.” Yet, SNC-Lavalin was banned in 2013 by the World Bank from participating in its projects for 10 years, following investigations of “bribery schemes” on previous projects worldwide. It was hardly a shining example to put forward.

So, I fail to see clearly how the rule of law might be subverted to commercial interests in order to benefit the public good. Morally, ethically and legally, it seems to be a pernicious argument, one which would only endanger our free society and the independence of the judiciary.

Eugene Ewanyshyn, Edmonton

Address MRI wait times

On Friday at 9:30 p.m., I had the occasion of being in the emergency of the Grey Nuns Hospital as a family member was booked for an MRI. It was a quite unsettling experience. The waiting room was filled to capacity.

It is said that people should see their doctor or attend at a walk-in clinic before going to emergency. How is that possible when you have, in many instances, a two-week wait to see your doctor or a couple of hours wait in a walk-in clinic, many of which are closed at night?

I also learned that the MRI was operating from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and there was still a usual wait time of a couple of months. Of course, those that can afford it can pay, perhaps $800-plus for a rapid MRI.

Something has to be done. The status quo is not good enough. The government needs to get together with the medical system and develop some long-term programs. The solutions may not be economically or politically acceptable to many. They will probably take many years to become effective but at least a start would be better than nothing.

Edward S. Redshaw, Edmonton

Kenney’s cuts are relatively small

Over the past several months, there have been numerous letters in The Journal complaining about the serious adverse effects of the UCP’s cuts to the provincial budget.

The actual reduction in planned expenditure is 1.6 per cent over four years, or 0.4 per cent per year. The Fraser Institute has looked at provincial and federal budget cuts over the past 30 years, and Alberta’s present reduction is the smallest of the 31 that occurred during this time period. For example, in 1990, Alberta lowered spending by 6.7 per cnet per annum for three years, and in 1993, Saskatchewan dropped spending by six per cent  a year for two years.

My take on the province’s actions is that they will have minimal impact compared to the foregoing, and considering the size of our deficit, I’m surprised that the cuts are so small.

Art Davison, Sherwood Park

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