Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 12, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Thursday, 12, 1974 CounciVs closed doors There are some new faces around the council table, but Monday city council was up to its old tricks. Following a lengthy discussion of the 1975 capital budget that was open to the public, council went into a closed session to discuss administrative salaries, and raises for themselves. Wage negotiations with city employees are customarily held in private and there had been notice given the week before that the subject was coming up. But there was no prior notice that the aldermen and the mayor would be dis- cussing their own stipends; only the mandatory mention of it as council pass- ed the required resolution to go into a closed session. The council wage hikes agreed on were not that significant annually for aldermen, no increase for the deputy mayor, and an increase of for the mayor, whose job has been a full time one for some while. Given the heavy responsibilities and time consuming tasks facing all members of council today, the raises were no doubt warranted. But that makes it all the harder to understand why aldermen were unwilling to put forward their rationale for pay boosts to the public. It's even more difficult to comprehend when one recalls that two of the new aldermen campaigned partly for a more "open and responsive" city council. Yet the vote to close the council doors was unanimous. Alert to Cuba watchers An interesting development, and one worth watching, is taking place in Cuba, where the revolutionary government is attempting to fashion its own brand of communism. An experiment in democracy is being tried in the small province of Matanzas. For the first time in the 15 year history of the revolution, elections were held by secret ballot to select members of regional and provin- cial assemblies and to elect local ad- ministrative committees. Residents 16 years and older were allowed to vote and the election procedure started at the grass roots level. Candidates were nominated by blocks, with as many as 40 contesting such nominations. They were not allow- ed to spend any money campaigning. Two elections were held to narrow the field and then the municipal delegates, as they were called, selected regional delegates who, in turn, selected provin- cial delegates. It was the first time in Cuba's history, according to a government official, in which soldiers did not man the polling stations. The turnout of eligible voters was more than 90 per cent. This figure should put Lethbridge residents to shame, considering the very low turnout for the recent municipal elections here, and inspire them to take more seriously the privileges of democracy. Matanzas is expected to serve as an example and if the Popular Power program, as it is called, works, it will be used elsewhere. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cubans have been very sensitive that democracy has played no part in their socialist regime so far. The Journal comments that the move is intended to increase efficiency as much as to provide democratic ways of arriv- ing at decisions. Although the national government will continue to control transportation, sugar production, banks, fishing and mining, it is expected that local administrations in Matanzas will be responsible for schools, clinics, shops, stores, maintenance shops, cinemas and other areas of service that are under state control. In some cases priorities or policies will be set nationally but carried out through local authorities. It is hoped that a great many bureaucratic foulups will now be avoided and that Matanzas will not develop just another unresponsive bureaucracy to replace the national one. The assemblymen were elected for indefinite terms but means have been provided for challenging them or recalling them. Next November the Communist Party Congress will evaluate Popular Power to decide whether it should be used nationwide and whether the selection process by which regional and provincial delegates were chosen should also be used to elect the country's highest of- ficials. It will be worthwhile to keep an eye on Cuba to see how democracy fares. "Me and my men want to have a word with you about this taxation thing, right boys Financial squabbling By W. A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator "All the safety features are standard equipment this year the CAR is optional." country's fi- nance ministers will be lucky if events do not out-run their discussions here this week and, some distance down the road, leave them looking of dubious relevance. Even in the short period since Turner presented his November budget, Statistics Canada's reporting has revealed a flat third quarter, the second in a row, in contrast to the mild growth the finance department had anticipated. This week's discussion of in- flation, with attention centred on the federal attempt to arrive at some sort of consen- sus on economic sharing within the community, will be measured against the general state of the economy before it is not forgotten en- tirely. It is far from clear that the finance ministers and treasurers spent the first day of their meeting discussing the correct problem. It is equally unclear that a full federal effort is going into the attempt to secure a national consensus. Certainly, some meetings have taken place, conducted both by the minister of finance and by the prime minister. It is known that a few responses have trickled back, dealing with points rais- ed during the opening dis- cussions. But it is ex- ceptionally difficult to see how much of a consensus in a country like this one could emerge without a far more intensive effort than any that is known to have taken place. Perhaps there have been many private meetings that no one can trace. If so, it is remarkable that no word of them has filtered up to the surface. It is proper that such discussions should be private to avoid, as Turner quite rightly points out, the element of confrontation. It is stretching things a bit, though, to imagine them being conducted with the secrecy of an underground conspiracy. The other major topic on the finance ministers' agenda was the dispute over a resource taxation and in time this may well be overshadowed by a much more fundamental supply. It is only a couple of weeks since the National Energy Board presented its estimate of this country's oil reserves and the government made its an- nouncement of a gradual phase-out of oil export to the United States. Short as that time is, however, the situ- ation already has worsened. The NEB was conservative in its estimates of future produc- tion from unconventional sources but since its report became public the Alberta oil sands projects have come to seem still less promising. It is difficult to imagine more irrational conduct than we have become involved in. The effort to find additional oil reserves has clearly declined in this last year since the problem became critical because there seems to be no doubt that exploration is down somewhat. A furious battle has developed, however, over the amounts that govern- ments will scoop up, by what means and with what division of the spoils, from the new petroleum prices. Great new revenues have, however, arisen and there is no reason to be complacent about the way in which the funds have been used. On the federal side, the pro- ceeds of the oil export tax have been used to subsidize immediate consumption of our scarcest vital resource and to do it in the most in- discriminate manner possible. This may be politi- cally appealing in the short- run but it is economic madness. When we should be making an effort to conserve the resource, the effect of heavy subsidization must be to encourage consumption. In addition, it actively interferes with the natural inter-play of the forces which otherwise would lead to some ultimate balance between energy sources. Direct subsidization of oil consumption occurs only in the eastern part of the country, supplied from Venezuela and the Middle East. That is not, however, the whole picture. Indirect subsidization is occurring in the rest of the country be- cause the domestic price there is held far below the world price. This attempt to insulate ourselves from the world would be acceptable if the country had unlimited reserves of oil. In our situation, with the prospect of self-sufficiency running out in a very short distance into the future, it is a head-in-the- sands approach. As for Alberta, everyone in the rest of the country hears the complaints over resource taxation. They come through loud and clear. It would be re- freshing, however, to hear considerably more than we do of plans to put to constructive use the extremely large new revenues the province is already securing. These may be less than it should get but the strongest case that province could make for still more oil revenue would be wise investment of the pres- ent flow of money. The dif- ficulties that have arisen to confront both oil sands pro- jects, Syncrude and Shell may have the beneficial effect of giving Alberta a hefty shove. In the meantime, however, this country is no closer to a viable oil policy for the future than it was a year ago. It does have, though, plenty of energy for inter-governmental squabbling. Mass starvation haunts the individual conscience By Bruce Hutchison, Herald special commentator The aged gardener of our rustic neighborhood was seen today inspecting the remains of the fiftieth vegetable gar- den that he had planted in the same plot of well-nourished earth. Vegetables, he remem- bered, had lately taken on a sudden fascination, a kind of mystical significance throughout the world. Food, or the lack of it, had become news even in food-rich Canada. The last survivors all gave their humble, wordless testimony to the largest fact of human life. So the gardener liked to im- agine. But he was old, sentimental and perhaps crazy. Or perhaps not. Either way, he had enough sense left to gather in the survivors before they froze. When he saw in the newspaper every day those pictures of starving children in distant black skeletons soon to perish, it must be wrong, somehow, to waste his morsel of nourishment. This, he reflected, was an absurd no- tion when he could do nothing, really, to affect the world's hunger. Yet he was haunted by those pictures. And as he set about digging up the vegetables it occurred to him that at least he could feel in his hands a real, living substance, whereas his wealthy friends in their city offices handled mere lifeless scraps of paper, auditors' reports, tax returns and balance sheets, signifying, he suspected, very little, if anything. Balance sheets, Ah, they were the ultimate absurdity when nature, on this minor planet, was striking an entire- ly different balance unknown to the expert auditors. His tiny crop was a ledger, if you knew how to read it, telling more about reality than the budget of the Canadian government. Yes, if men like Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Turner, un- happy prisoners of office and power, could be released from prison for a day to save some food their minds might be wonderfully concentrated on essentials. That, of course, was too much to hope for. The grave, anguished show of politics, everywhere, must go on. So the gardener, his wheelbarrow full of beets dripping their innocent purple wine, did not criticize the politicians. He admired them and knew something of their miseries. Nevertheless, granting that they were overworked and un- appreciated, he found it hard to understand why they had so long miscalculated the plain figures, still harder to understand why they were surprised by the obvious. Any ignorant gardener could have told them, years ago, the answer to the simple sum of planetary arithmetic. He sup- posed, however, that the ob- vious was always the most dif- ficult thing for men, especial- ly the more intelligent sort of men, to grasp. Anyhow, most of them hadn't grasped it until yester- day. Or if they had, the sum didn't bear much looking at some four billion mouths to feed right now, twice that many at the end of the century and a doubled total again in the following generation, ac- cording to the infallible com- puters. Wait a minute. Were the computers infallible after all? The gardener paused at that wild question as he dis- covered, under a patch of weeds, some neglected squash and marrows, frozen and inedible. Nature apparently had her sure method of deal- ing with excessive numbers and exploding populations. The tough native weeds flourished. The tender exotic plants, needing man's care, quickly perished without it. Here was a parable of some kind, if you could decipher it. The gardener couldn't, but the nagging question remained. How would the affluent Western world deal with the needs of the poor and hungry? Must it just harden itself to the prospect of millions starving not long from now, some starving already? If so, was it mad enough to assume that its own affairs would go along merrily, as the politicians seemed to assume in their budgets and pep talks, while this process continued in human bodies? These matters were too big for him but he could not quite escape his private quandary, the pricked conscience of a man always abundantly fed. What was any man to do when he could do so little? Enough of such foolery. It only wasted time and the short December daylight was fading fast. He would do the absurd job at hand and forget the rest. Thus briefly self-benumbed, he refilled the barrow for dis- tribution to his non-gardening neighbors. Doubtless they would accept these miserable gifts out of politeness and pity for him in his senile age. This year, indeed, they might ac- tually eat free food as they had seldom done in previous years, food being suddenly news and in style again. Slowly, clumsily, with many pauses for breath, he pushed the overloaded barrow up the hill. His crop safely harvested, he prepared to eat his dinner and read his newspaper with a clear con- science. But that, he well knew, was the most absurd notion of all. Letters Rape of resources It seems that as the days go by and the gulf between the federal government and Alberta with respect to natural resources widens so too does the gap between basic truths and certain media reporting. Harry Bruce of the Toronto Star (The Herald Dec. 4) claims that Alberta is denying the spirit of Confederation in claiming the benefits of oil revenue, which exists in Alberta as an act of God. Cer- tainly Albertans did no more to create oil than did the Arabs or the Indians, but Alberta, quite apart from the oil export tax revenue, has provided as a "have" province hundreds of millions of dollars a year in equaliza- tion payments to the "have not" provinces of which Nova Scotia is one. In the matter of 1974 equalization payments alone, N.S. has received million or nearly per capita compared to the total N.S. provincial debt of some million. Alberta is one of three provinces contributing to equalization payments and N.S. one of seven receiving such payments. Over and above this, the federal government now wishes to extract about one and a half billion dollars extra per year from Alberta oil tax- ation AINU then kill the goose that lays the golden egg by disallowing oil companies the legitimate right to deduct provincial royalties from in- come before taxes. (How long has it been a principal of business accounting to dis- allow legitimate expenses to be deducted from gross revenue before arriving at net taxable As has been said before, let's treat all provinces alike with regard to provincial resource taxation. No other province has ever paid an ex- port tax on any resource or had provincial royalties paid treated as non-deductible ex- penses nor does any other province ever intend to get into that position. This is what Premier Peter Lougheed so rightly calls the biggest ripoff since Confederation, and what I have called the rape of Alberta. Lethbridge. JOHN FORTUNE Unwholesome movies Is The Herald entirely con- sistent? Is it possible to condemn games with guns on the grounds of moral concern (editorial, Dec. and yet give publicity to films depicting violence and obscenity? Or are such adver- tisements external to the moral conscience of a news- paper. If, as The Herald writer asserts, responsibility for robbery, hijacking, terrorism and murder rests with those who design, sell' or purchase gun games, can any less blame be attached to those who publicize and purvey obscene films, for similar crimes of violence and depravity so prevalent in society today? It would be naive to ignore or deny the relationship between films of violence and the incidence of crime. There are many criminals in our jails who would attest that their present condition is attributable to obscene books or films. A civilized society believes in the idea of its stronger members protecting its weaker ones. Is the word cen- sorship so obnoxious that we cannot withdraw support for some of the baser forms of entertainment which are in our midst and which receive such wide publicity? The Herald is right to be concerned over the popularity of gun games with their im- plications for future behavior. It would be heartening indeed if some similar consideration were given to combating the unwholesome influences that flow from the movie industry. Any action that tends away from such promotion will surely be beneficial to a responsible community. J. C. LEA Raymond Students donate money Many of the students in my school are very concerned about the millions of starving people in India and other poverty stricken areas of the world. We are trying to do our share to alleviate this worldwide problem by donating what little money we can and by writing letters to newspapers, and members of Parliament. The students of our school are mainly sup- porting OXFAM. One of our teachers, Mr. W. Schmidt, regional director of OXFAM, is doing his part to help raise money. I sincerely believe that if teenagers and students can do a small part in helping this cause it should not be difficult for adults, especially most of those in Lethbridge who are fairly well off, to just give a few dollars to help those who have nothing. I believe it our moral duty to do something, not just to sit on our butts and do nothing because in our minds it doesn't concern us. If adults have this attitude what kind of example will their children take up? We are also encouraging everyone in Lethbridge to par- ticipate in an awareness fast Dec. 19, in which everyone would give up food for a day and the money they save by not eating should be given to OXFAM. This is not costing too much and if teenagers can do it so can everyone else. DENNY SUMARA Lethbridge Pornographic films Yvonne Storfie voiced a matter that has bothered many mothers. That is the showing of pornographic films on television. As many mothers are working they cannot control the shows their children watch. Mrs. Storfie has the courage to do something that many of us have wanted to do. All of us were created in the image of God, His spiritual image as well. Even when man fell, God made a way whereby it is possible for man to be recreated and restored to God. The way is Jesus Christ, God's son, who will come in and dwell with our spirit when He is invited. We are God's handywork and exceedingly precious unto Him. He looks upon our soul as a beautiful pure crystal bowl. Should we dump gar- bage into it? We wouldn't think of storing a dead cat in our grocery cupboards. We are teaching our children many good and beautiful things. Let's not throw in garbage with it, as garbage rots and festers and later becomes poison, it can pollute the whole thing. We are what our thoughts are. Come on mothers raise up your voices. Mrs. Storfie is working hard at it and deserves and needs help. MRS. ANNE McCREARY Lethbridge The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th St. S. Letftbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDO8 HERALD CO. LTD. and PuUHUms Second Claw Mall Restoration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS, Editor and Publisher DON H. PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R. DORAM General Manager ROY F. MILES Adverttatng Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKER Editorial Page Editor ROBERT M. FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E BARNETT Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"