Under the Dome http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/ Tue, 30 Oct 2012 14:15:00 GMT The ghosts of the legislative building http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a7aaf332d-ca9c-4f0e-b28c-477eec6af13e&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 30 Oct 2012 14:15:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">She walks the upper galleries of the ornate legislative library late at night, when the lights are out and the only real people around are security guards.</span></span></p> <div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">She wears a long dress more in keeping with the early 1900s than today’s fashion. Her grey hair is tied up in a bun.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">She doesn’t bother anyone.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Her ghostly shadow moves silently, re-stacking illusory books, folders and binders.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">One time a security guard caught her reading at a table. When he asked her how she got into a locked room, she vanished.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Poof.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Right before his eyes.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">She’s only been seen a few times, but the staff of the Manitoba Legislative Building library and security guards are keenly aware of her presence.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Although harmless, none of them care to spend the night waiting for her to re-appear.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">She’s just one of the spirits said to haunt the legislative building, a Winnipeg landmark steeped in hidden-in-plain-sight mystic messages and supposed links to the occult. Its Masonic symbols are and architecture are well-documented. But its ghosts? </span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">No so much.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/10/4/5a47d721-f48d-4756-b4ea-330118caa126.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/10/4/5a47d721-f48d-4756-b4ea-330118caa126.Large.jpg?0" /></a></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">There’s another female ghost that’s said to wander the basement hallways of the building. This one sings, her voice gentle and quiet, but still echoing through the natural night noises of a building opened in 1920. The “ledge” was built on the original site of Osborne Barracks, which was established in 1873.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">There are other ghosts, too, such as the one spotted by a security guard during a late-night walk-throughs of the hallways.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“I thought it was an intruder,” she said recently.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Within seconds she realized what she saw, although human in form, was anything but.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“My hair just stuck up on end on the back of my neck and I froze,” she said.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">She said she considered hitting an alarm, but in that instant the apparition vanished. She hasn’t seen it since.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Other security guards have heard similar stories, but they brush them off.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Ghosts aren’t real, right?</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Still, how to explain locked doors that open by themselves? The sound of a woman’s high-heels clicking on the marble floors when the building is empty? The books that fall off shelves when the building is closed?</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“Sometimes you get a shot of static electricity than seems to float around in a ball,” one guard said. “You’re on a marble floor so you can’t blame it on the carpet.”</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Other ghost stories include the man who walks the south-east, second-floor hallways wearing a long black suit and top hat. He’s even been spotted on the grand staircase and when approached, he either vanishes or passes through one of the thick stone walls.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Then there are the ghosts of three men who have meetings each evening in one of the two large committee rooms. These rooms do not see daily use, but have seen their share of intense political debates. Maybe the walls harnessed that energy and release it... whenever.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Local tour guide Kristen Verin-Treusch says there are more unearthly visitors.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“Apparently, there’s some spirit boys downstairs in basement area,” she said. “You know how some of the doors have panes in glass in them? It’s not clear glass, and from what I understand a security guard was doing his rounds and he saw these two boys inside an office with their hands cupped around their eyes looking at him in the hallway.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“He kind of thought, ‘what-the-heck are these kids doing in here,’ and he went into the room and, of course, there’s nobody there.”</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Verin-Treusch conducts tours of haunted places in Winnipeg through <a href="http://www.muddywatertours.ca/Muddy_Water_Tours/About_Us.html" rel="nofollow">Muddy Water Tours. </a></span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">She tries to get the boys, or their spirits, to interact with the tour group.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“We’ve had a medium come with us on several occasions and she thinks they’re connected to another spirit-person who’s been seen in the building wandering around,” she said.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Verin-Treusch said it goes without saying it’s all very speculative whether these spirits exist.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">But. . . </span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“We have stuff happening. People experience tingling in their hands when they’re doing the dowsing rods.</span></span></div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">“People start freaking out.”</span></span></div> <div>  </div> </div> <div>  </div> <div> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/10/6/fa72fdad-6bcf-4c67-b63f-9355b60daf42.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/10/6/fa72fdad-6bcf-4c67-b63f-9355b60daf42.Large.jpg?0" /></a></div> <div>  </div> <div style="margin-left:40px;">  </div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>A single gunshot in the morning</strong></span></div> <div style="margin-left:40px;">  </div> <div style="margin-left:40px;">  </div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> It’d be pushing it to say his apparition haunts the building, but his legacy definitely does.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> <a href="http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/pearson_rm.shtml" rel="nofollow">Ralph McNeille Pearson</a>, deputy treasury minister for the province for 26 years, shot himself with a .38-calibre revolver in his first floor washroom of the legislative building on Feb. 19, 1947, at about 11:15 a.m.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> His is the only confirmed death in the Manitoba Legislative Building.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> His suicide stunned the government of then premier Stuart Garson. In the newspaper coverage that followed, Pearson, 54, was eulogized as one of the most dedicated civil servants to work for the province, but also described as being in “indifferent health” in the months leading up to his death.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> Pearson, who took the job Sept. 14, 1920, helped steer the provincial treasury through the 1929 stock market crash, the Great Depression and World War II.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> He’s also considered one of the architects of what became the modern federal equalization payment system, in which the federal government shares revenue with the provinces. He was also on the ground floor of helping to create Canada’s employment insurance system, having witnessed what happened during the height of the Depression when so many Manitobans were out of work and the province got caught with unexpected expenditures.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> While Pearson’s tenure covered some of the worst years of the past century, he was also dogged by a scandal that broke out under his watch.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> On Dec. 30, 1931 police arrested cashier Maurice Jones and accountant James Spawls, both employees of the treasury department, after it was found $102,700 ($1.690 million in today’s value) was missing. A year later both men were sentenced to four years in prison. Both men stole the money over five years, using a bookkeeping slight-of-hand, to “clean up” at the horse races, betting on out-of-town horse races with Winnipeg bookies, according to newspaper accounts at the time.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> Pearson and other treasury department officials later had to fight off accusations that $1 million had actually been pilfered from the province’s coffers.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> Leslie Garden and Reginald Maybury made the allegation in a newspaper they printed called The Truth of Canada. They were arrested and charged with the rare offence of publishing false news likely to injure the credit of Manitoba, but were acquitted by a jury March 22, 1932 after two hours of deliberation.</div> <div style="margin-left:40px;"> Why Pearson shot himself 15 years later, no one knows. There is no indication given in the press accounts of the time.</div> <div>  </div> <div> bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</div> <div>  </div> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:7aaf332d-ca9c-4f0e-b28c-477eec6af13e Thank you low-lifes http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a5c2c7df3-6ce0-432d-9acc-8ea2cce9e58f&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 18 Oct 2012 17:26:00 GMT <p> A sonar to help police divers see under the surface of the murky Red River, another automated licence-plate reader, laptops so police recruits can take the classroom with them in their training and some high-tech surveillance stuff police don’t want to talk about.</p> <p> These will all be bought for the Winnipeg Police Service courtesy of cash and other valuables seized from drug dealers, gangsters and other criminals.</p> <p> Justice Minister Andrew Swan said Wednesday police will get $592,000 in funding this year under the province’s Criminal Property Forfeiture Act. </p> <p> The province will hand out about $780,000 across the province this year to police and victims support groups, Swan said. Since the forfeiture act became law in 2004, the province says it has seized $3.1 million in assets from criminals.</p> <p> For city police, it will add a third <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/bad-drivers-put-on-notice-140406613.html">automated licence plate reader</a>, a $30,000 tiny camera on a police car that scans up to 200 licence plates per minute to determine if a vehicle is stolen or if its registration is expired or suspended.</p> <p> “It’s way more effective than and efficient than officers manually entering those plate numbers into the computer system in the car itself,” Insp. Jim Poole said. “They can run thousands in a day.”</p> <p> The funding also allows police to get laptop computers for a future police recruits so that they can take their training with them, such as to the firing range or when they learn how to fill out warrants, Sgt. Doug Safioles said. </p> <p> The “portable training lab” takes effect when police move out of their training academy on Allard Road into their new headquarters in the old Canada Post building on Graham Avenue, which is being renovated.</p> <p> Staff Sgt. Rob Riffel of the police dive unit said the new $70,000 sonar gives police a better ability to find drowning victims.</p> <p> “Diving in the Red River or any of the rivers in Winnipeg is black-water diving so it’s basically by feel,” he said, poiint to the 2010-11 seach of youngster <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Body-in-river-identified-as-missing-boy-mother-130572753.html">Nathaniel Thorassie</a>.</p> <p> “The sonar gives us an acoustic picture of the bottom and identifies objects on the bottom.”</p> <p> <strong><a href="https://plus.google.com/photos/103384200399198193971/albums/5800699649004094577" rel="nofollow">Police dive team slideshow</a></strong></p> <p> Acting police chief Devon Clunis said police would not discuss the new surveillance equipment.</p> <p> “We’re talking about surveillance, we’re talking about covert activity so I’m not sure we’re going to necessarily put that piece out there right now,” he said.</p> <p> The money for police and victims' groups comes from the work of the province's criminal property forfeiture unit.</p> <p> Director Gord Schumacher said many seizures involve cash seized by police from drug dealers.</p> <p> "We had one not too long ago where there was $75,000 in a trunk of a car and it was somebody who didn't have a job," he said. "It just didn't make any sense."</p> <p> Schumacher also said the province will <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/former-grow-op-house-up-for-sale-100606269.html">seize a house</a> if a large marijunana grow operation is found inside.</p> <p> "We have quite a number than we're pursing right now and there's a number that we've had forfietied already." he said.</p> <p> Other property seized from criminals include jewelry and gold bullion.</p> <p> "We're just building steam now. It's $3.1 million today. Next year it's going to be considerably more than that."</p> <p> What's helped the unit increase the number of forfietures is legislation passed last June which allows for proceeds of crime to be more quickly instead of having to go through the courts. </p> <p> On average, an administrative seizure takes about 35 days, Schumacher said.</p> <p> "We're pumping out a lot of those fairly often," he said.</p> <p> One pending seizure that remains before the courts is the former <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/SLIDESHOW-Inside-the-Hells-Angels-clubhouse-100073554.html">Hells Angels clubhouse</a> at at 2679 Scotia St. It was closed down by police in July 2010, but whether the 2,865 sq. ft.bunglalow can be put up for sale has yet to be decided.</p> <p> <strong>Who else gets funding under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act</strong></p> <p> Grants of $30,000 each will be given to:</p> <ul> <li> T<strong>he Ka Ni Kanichihk’s Medicine Bear Counselling, Support and Elder Services Project:</strong> offers counselling to families of missing and murdered aboriginal women in remote and isolated northern communities; and<br />  </li> <li> <strong>The Eyaa-Keen’s Ni Mino Biimatiziiwin (My Good Life):</strong> provides specialized one-on-one elder support and group counselling for families of missing and murdered aboriginal women.<br /> <br /> General manager Karen Swain said the agency is getting $30,000 to improve its services when the need is immediate.<br /> <br /> "It makes it a lot easier to offer the services," she said. "If we didn't have this funding we would have to rely on the elders to volunteer and sometimes they're working full-time or they're not available.<br /> <br /> "We're really grateful to have it."</li> </ul> <p> Funding will also be granted to support <strong>Manitoba Justice Victim Services</strong> initiatives including: </p> <ul> <li> Financial support for families of homicide victims for travel to court; and;<br />  </li> <li> Support for the <strong>National Aboriginal Women’s Summit III</strong> Nov. 1-2 in Winnipeg, a forum to develop of a national action plan to address missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.</li> </ul> <p> bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:5c2c7df3-6ce0-432d-9acc-8ea2cce9e58f Workload keeps rising for folks in Justice Department http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3af94ecc62-d0d3-4c99-9292-2fafc3c45f07&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 02 Oct 2012 19:56:00 GMT <p> The province has issued a flurry of government department reports over the past few days. A stack of them — all sporting covers in a lighter shade of NDP orange — sits on an unused desk at the Free Press office at the Legislative Building. Some of the reports are more interesting than others.</p> <p> Take the Manitoba Justice annual report, for instance. It shows that the province’s justice system is strained to the max in coping with an ever-growing workload.</p> <p> Last year (to March 31, 2012), prosecutors opened up 55,870 new files (including charges laid and requests for Crown opinions), up from 49,365 the year before. The more-than-6,000-file-jump was the largest in years.</p> <p> At the same time, though, Manitoba’s prosecution service under-spent its budget for salaries by nearly $1.2 million (on a budget of $20.5 million). Retirements and “under-fills of budgeted positions” are listed as explanations.</p> <p> In October 2010, Crown attorneys and the province hammered out a deal that would add 53 prosecutors over six years. At the time of the deal, both sides agreed that Crown attorneys’ heavy workloads needed to be reduced.</p> <p> The Manitoba Association of Crown Attorneys (MACA) had threatened to expose internal staffing problems in the Crown’s office at an upcoming arbitration hearing, if something wasn’t done about the problem, my colleague, Bruce Owen, reported at the time. </p> <div> From the department’s annual report, it would seem that the road to increased Crown attorney staffing has been bumpy.</div> <div>  </div> <div> Other facts gleaned from the annual report:</div> <ul> <li> Total department spending rose to $457 million last year, compared with $422.9 the year before, an increase of $34.1 million.</li> <li> Compensation for victims of crime exceeded the $2.9 million the department budgeted by $700,000 last year.</li> <li> A total of 5,913 deaths were reported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which has 14 employees. The office investigated and certified 1,545 of those deaths, conducted 4,368 inquiries, ordered 1,101 autopsies and called eight inquests. As busy as it was, the office under-spent its budget on salaries because of a delay in filling the deputy chief medical examiner’s position.</li> <li> In the area of adult corrections, the average daily prisoner count was 2,253 last year, up from 2,019 the previous year. The number of folks on probation averaged 7,234 last year, compared with 7,033 the previous year. Adult corrections over-spent its budget by more than $23 million.</li> <li> The Provincial Court processed 53,605 new charges in Winnipeg alone last year. Note, charges and court files (see above) are different as one file can encompass a series of charges related to one incident. Twenty-one jury trials were held in the Manitoba capital, and Winnipeg Jury Management issued 18,350 jury summonses (from 30,000 names obtained from Manitoba Health cards).</li> <li> Winnipeg sheriffs transported 9,316 prisoners to court, travelled 680,705 kilometres by road and 17,311 by air. Regional sheriffs transported 18,867 prisoners to court, travelled 1,072,592 kilometres by road and 241,286 kilometres by air. Sheriff officers also scanned 278,821 persons entering the Winnipeg Law Courts complex last year.</li> </ul> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:f94ecc62-d0d3-4c99-9292-2fafc3c45f07 Fort Whyte: The morning after http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3adaa56fef-35f9-429c-bb60-bf6fa292f9d5&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 05 Sep 2012 16:22:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">FWIW and IMHO:</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><strong>Liberals:</strong> Bob Axworthy finished the night with a respectable second place finish. Some of us didn't buy into the hype he was the second coming of Lloyd, but the 2,074 votes he got perhaps indicates a few things:</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">1) The provincial Liberals ain't dead. A strong candidate can breath some life into them.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">2) Fort Whyte is changing: It's no longer a yellow-dog Tory riding.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">3) Would a merger between the Liberals and the Greens increase that vote in the next provincial election? Or does Axworthy's showing nix that talk altogether?</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><strong>NDP:</strong> They had hoped to do a little better than they did. Candidate Brandy Schmidt is a newbie, but her 739 votes is a far cry from what NDPer Sunny Dhaliwal got in the Oct. 4, 2011 general election: 2,649 votes.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">What happened to the NDP? Is this a sign voters, at least in Fort Whyte, are tiring of the NDP? Is it a sign they failed to get their vote out? Or is it a sign they gave up before the campaign began because Pallister was a shoe-in?</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;letter-spacing:1px;line-height:13.600000381469727px;">(Schmidt did squeak by the 10 per cent valid vote rule under The Elections Finances Act and qualifies for up to 50 per cent reimbursement of eligible election expenses. The Green's Donnie Benham didn't.)</span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">The NDP are putting the best spin possible on the outcome by saying Schmidt's campaign gave new, younger Dipper blood a chance to run a campaign and get their feet wet.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Whatever.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><strong>Progressive Conservatives:</strong> Then there's the Pallister's Tories. They worked liked dogs going door-to-door over the past month and on Tuesday getting their identified vote out to the polls.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">The thought before the polls closed was that Pallister would have a bit better showing over the Liberals, which last October with candidate Chae Tsai only hauled in a measley 708 votes.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">But something happened.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Yes, maybe the Axworthy name helped, but is it also small sign that urban voters didn't totally buy Pallister's pitch as the Tory's new leader?</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Then again, voter turnout hovered about 42 per cent when last October it was 62 per cent.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Not exactly evidence Fort Whyte voters were paying attention. To anything.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Other than perhaps an alleged child sex pimp. His strange campaign ended with 19 votes. Of anything over the past month in Fort Whyte, he got the most headlines.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">I'm not sure what that says about anything, other than the rules regarding candicacy requirement being tightened up to better control these selve-serving sideshows.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</span></span></p> <p>  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:daa56fef-35f9-429c-bb60-bf6fa292f9d5 Manitoba's Tories: They live http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3af5164060-6a7e-4bc6-857e-138cbe062dbb&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 23 Aug 2012 17:57:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">I spent part of an evening recently following Tory Leader Brian Pallister as he campaigned in Linden Woods.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Or, more accurately, as he "leap-frogged" through the Fort Whyte constituency neighbourhood in advance of the Sept. 4 by election.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">As Pallister and his team knocked on doors, the Tories had other volunteer teams campaigning on his behalf in other parts of Fort Whyte.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">From what I saw, it was a well-oiled machine.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">From what I saw, these volunteers were energetic and had a well-focused purpose.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">On this night, this was the beginning of their second swing through Fort Whyte, the goals being to hit every residence twice before voting day, to identify support and to get them to vote in the advance polls which open Saturday.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">This week the Progressive Conservatives, humbled in the Oct. 4, 2011 general election, also held their Tory Cup golf tournament at the Kingwood Golf Course.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">By all accounts, it was a rousing success. Besides good weather, it also raised some money for the party. People made donations despite a byelection where their leader is expected to win handily and the party is more than three years away from the next general election.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;font-family:georgia, serif;">Less than a month into the job, it's clear this is not the same party that limped out of election.</span></p> <p> <font face="georgia, serif"><span style="font-size:14px;">Pallister has breathed some life into it. There's an energy in the party that's been missing for awhile.</span></font></p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:f5164060-6a7e-4bc6-857e-138cbe062dbb The search for Tanya Nepinak http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a0b6fcc5e-3d59-4d97-b40e-5959067642b4&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 13 Aug 2012 20:12:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">City police will begin their search at Brady Road landfill for the body of </span><a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/body-buried-at-landfill-family-told-165392246.html" style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">Tanya Nepinak</a><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;"> soon.</span></p> <div> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">It's a daunting task, but not impossible.</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Police have conducted  similar searches in the past, one successful, the other, not.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">The first was for the remains of Thomas Zachery Riggins 25 years ago this summer.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Riggins, 23, had been strangled to death in a confrontation with another man over control of a portion of the city's sex trade. Both victim and accused Anthony Robert Sherratt were pimps.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Riggins' skeletal remains were found at the Brady Road landfill site two weeks after his slaying only because of "herculean" police efforts, Crown attorney Bruce Miller told the jury in Sherratt's murder trial a year later.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">"Under cover of darkness, Mr. Sherratt killed Thomas Riggins and stripped the body of clothing exept for his underwear. He also stripped </span></span><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">the body of jewelry ... and dumped Mr. Riggins' semi-nude body behind </span><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">a strip mall on Pembina Highway," Miller told the jury.</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Police learned Riggins' body was in the landfill after Sherratt confessed, saying the killing was an act of self-defence and that he and dumped the body in an industrial garbage bin behind a Fort Garry shopping mall. </span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">"Not until August 10 were the skeletal remains of <a href="https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B2knJKIlZ4xfZDFucW11a0Q0MHc" rel="nofollow">Thomas Zachery</a> </span></span><a href="https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B2knJKIlZ4xfZDFucW11a0Q0MHc" rel="nofollow" style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">Riggins </a><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">found," Miller said.</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Sherratt was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to a life term, eligible for parole after serving 10 years.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">More recently, police conducted a similar search in 2008 for the remains  <span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);line-height:18px;"><a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/charge-reduced-in-missing-man-slaying-case-52635497.html">Jacinto Eduardo Etcheverry</a>, but suspended it after more than eight months without finding any trace.</span></span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> <div>  </div> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:0b6fcc5e-3d59-4d97-b40e-5959067642b4 Whither Vic? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a97b36e78-5a13-4c39-ac14-9497a65d9cb6&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:20:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">With Bev Oda <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/embattled-minister-quits-161318425.html">calling it quits</a> at the end of July, speculation among the media is how long Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has in his cabinet post and even in politics.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Oda's resignation gives Prime Minister Stephen Harper wider opportunity to shuffle his cabinet, commentators say.</span></span></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/6/4ca4d419-bf8e-42ad-b693-ab0c9854a01c.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/6/4ca4d419-bf8e-42ad-b693-ab0c9854a01c.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:11px;text-align:left;">Public Safety Minister Vic Toews                             </span><em style="font-family:arial, verdana, 'Lucida Grande', sans-serif;text-align:left;"><span style="font-size:11px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">Photo by Chris Wattie/Reuters</span></span></em></p> <br /> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:16px;">They add Provencher MP Vic Toews is also potentially on the list of ministers to be moved to different portfolios.</span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;">They say Toews took it on the chin, and embarrassed his government, when he told a<span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);line-height:18px;text-align:left;"> Liberal MP in the house in February he could either stand with the government or "with the child pornographers" in support of the Tories legislative plan </span><span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);line-height:18px;text-align:left;">to require telecommunications companies to hand over customer information to police without a court order.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);line-height:18px;text-align:left;">The fallout from that comment resulted in the <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1167267--vikileaks-author-adam-carroll-has-no-regrets-for-launching-twitter-war-against-vic-toews" rel="nofollow">Vikileaks affair</a>.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);line-height:18px;text-align:left;">And public outcry over Toews' Bill C-30, the </span><span style="line-height:18px;">Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, forced the Harper government to send it to committee where it could be re-jigged.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">Long and short of it is that it wasn't a high point in Toews' political career.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">A few days ago Toews was at a federal fundining announcement at the corner of Plessis and Dugald, part of his summer tour of ribbon cuttings and funding deals. This one had to do with the building of an underpass on Plessis so crossing training don't block traffic.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">Toews seemed especially chatty afterwards, taking time to answer every media question and to shake some hands.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">I asked him if he'll run again in the next scheduled federal election in the fall of 2015.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;"><strong>Toews</strong>: "Why would you say something like that?"</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;"><strong>Me</strong>: "I'm just curious."</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;"><strong>Toews</strong>: "I keep hearing all the time that I'm retiring, and your newspaper is the one that keeps on saying it. Also, I have to sort of shrug my shoulders and say, 'You must know something that I don't know.' That's all I can say."</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">At the Manitoba legislature, many believe that if and when Toews does step down, Steinbach Tory MLA Kelvin Goertzen will resign his provincial seat and run federally.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">It's one reason, some say, why Goertzen didn't run for leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives. Goertzen has said publicly it had more to do with <a href="http://www.kelvingoertzen.com/news.asp?newsID=899" rel="nofollow">family considerations</a>, but others say the allure of going to Parliament to be in government versus sitting in opposition in Manitoba a day longer is just too great for the ambitious Goertzen.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">We shall see.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;"><span style="line-height:18px;">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</span></span></span></p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:97b36e78-5a13-4c39-ac14-9497a65d9cb6 Whatcha thinking Brian? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3ad2c5d882-c001-4e60-95f4-e9b79947dbc4&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 27 Jun 2012 22:39:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">On Tuesday about a dozen Progressive Conservative faithful headed out to Portage La Prairie to meet with Brian Pallister.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">He had summoned them.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">They drove out under the hot Prairie sky wondering why Pallister would want to speak to them. </span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">In about a month, Pallister will assume the throne of the PC Party, so they felt it was in their best interests to be there on time.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">They were wrong.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">These folks have spent a great deal of their lives working for the party. They've hung in there despite watching things go up in smoke last Oct. 4. That bitterness of losing the election still lingers, but these 12 people have soldiered on.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">But that wasn't so much what Pallister was interested in.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">No, he wanted their connections.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">In not so many words he told them they each needed to sell 100 party memberships and hit up their donors for more cash for the party's war chest. </span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Do this for me, and maybe you might have a job, he said, sources tell me.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Needless to say, Pallister's demand didn't go over well. </span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Some walked out of the meeting. It's doubtful they'll ever return to the party.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Maybe there's a method to this madness. Maybe it's a good idea to build up membership in Winnipeg and stuff more cash into the war chest, so that when Pallister does take the helm he can boast the PCs are more vibrant than ever, even more vibrant than the NDP.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">But you've got to wonder at what cost. Brushing aside some of your core members will only cause more to start looking over their shoulders.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">A wise politician told me in confidence that leadership changes are never nice.  It creates a lot of uncertainty for everyone involved, top to bottom.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Why add to it, Brian?</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</span></span></p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:d2c5d882-c001-4e60-95f4-e9b79947dbc4 Recorded vote, Mr. Speaker http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a4a7a65b2-1a7b-42b9-9823-252c61936b63&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 12 Jun 2012 21:03:00 GMT <p> The Opposition Progressive Conservatives appear to have a new secret weapon that can lull the NDP to sleep.</p> <p> We saw this weapon in action on Monday as proceedings in the legislature were winding down for the day.</p> <p> Speaker Daryl Reid has just called for a voice vote on a motion submitted by Morris PC MLA Mavis Taillieu earlier in the session.</p> <p> Taillieu's motion?</p> <p> <em>"That the Legislative Assembly urge the provincial government to agree that the Premier and Cabinet ministers are not above the law–when they break a law they must be held accountable with penalties as would any other Manitoban."</em></p> <p> The motion was filed in connection to a recent finding by Manitoba's commissioner of elections that the NDP <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/ndps-photo-op-broke-law-149967815.html">broke the law</a> when it invited two media outlets for a tour of a new birthing centre in the days leading up to the Oct. 4 election.</p> <p> Premier Greg Selinger later said he would take no action against Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Education Minister Nancy Allan, who were part of a tour hosted by the executive director of the Women's Health Clinic.</p> <p> Back to Monday's voice vote, which was only partly recorded by Hansard:</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;"> <strong>Mr. Speaker</strong>: All those in favour of the motion, please signify by saying aye.</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;"> <strong>Some Honourable Members</strong>: Aye.</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;"> <strong>Mr. Speaker</strong>: All those opposed to the motion, please signify by saying nay.</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;"> <strong>Some Honourable Member</strong>s: Nay.</p> <p style="margin-left:40px;"> <strong>Mr. Speaker</strong>: In the opinion of the Chair, the Ayes have it.</p> <p> What's missing is Reid's apparent dismay that Taillieu's motion had passed, and chuckles, guffaws and knee slaps from the Tories that they had caught the NDP napping.</p> <p> Anyway, the NDP's Steve Ashton, the acting government house leader at the time, quickly jumped to his feet and requested a recorded vote to get more NDP MLA's into the house.</p> <p> The NDP defeated Taillieu's motion, Yeas 20, Nays 30.</p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:4a7a65b2-1a7b-42b9-9823-252c61936b63 Immigrants and the Jets http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3aed182179-437e-429c-b32a-af96cc347eba&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 06 Jun 2012 17:44:00 GMT <p> <span style="color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;text-align:left;">Please bear with me.</span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> How the Winnipeg Jets and pending federal changes to the immigration system mesh will make sense at the end of this.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> If not, I'm sure you'll tell me.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> This week the NDP released a bunch of documents pertaining to the April 19 event at the legislative building where dozens of immigrants were invited by Ben Rempel, assistant deputy minister of Immigration and Multiculturism, to hear a debate over the Selinger government's opposition to Ottawa's decision to end the 1998 Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> The event turned into a <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/immigration-spat-heats-up-148224265.html">gong show</a>.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> The documents I and other media, including the <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/new-documents-show-more-manitoba-bureaucrats-involved-in-immigration-controversy-157229095.html">Canadian Press</a>, received were obtained under the province's freedom of information law and include a series of emails between provincial bureaucrats in the hours leading up to the big day.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> Most of the package I got is highly repetitive and does not shed much if any new light into what we already know.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> The Opposition Tories, backed up by their federal brethren, have blasted the NDP for supposedly politicizing civil servants and for using immigrants as a backdrop to what they say was a political dog and pony show.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> For me, the only telling bit of new information was an April 18 email from Rempel to six Labour and Immigration workers:</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> "I expect some staff will be interested in attending the in the Gallery tomorrow," Rempel's email said. "I would strongly recommend against this because if staff are recognized in the gallery we would only be providing grounds for more criticism of the government as wasting tax-payers money."</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> From this, it appears to me that Rempel's spidey-sense was tingling the day before that the Selinger government could face some heavy criticism by inviting so many people to the legislature to hear the debate, led by Immigration and Multiculturism Minister Christine Melnick.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> The day went as Rempel predicted. No surprise, Melnick's resolution was passed by the majority NDP.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> Out in the rotunda, St. Boniface Conservative MP Shelly Glover and her entourage of fellow MPs James Bezan, Candace Hoeppner and Joy Smith lit into the provincial NDP like wolves on a wounded deer.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> In the gallery, hallways and one committee room, used for the overflow crowd, immigrants and others in attendance looked at one another wondering what the heck they were doing there--despite being told what was going on, most did not show much interest.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> My point?</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> It was not one of the NDP's finer moments.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> Then came the <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/selinger-ices-free-tickets-151228665.html">Jets ticket affair</a>, as we in the media have coined it for the sake of brevity.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> What should have taken a day or two at the most to diffuse, the NDP took almost two weeks.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> This slow response by the Selinger government allowed a story that should have died a quick death become fodder for the opposition and pundits to paint a picture of NDP self-indulgence.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> And it's still not over.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> The New Democrats could have taken swifter, unequivocal, action by immediately tabling legislation to tighten up conflict of interest legislation, legislation mirroring what their own civil servants and governments in other provinces must follow.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> They did not.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> When they eventually get around to it, that tardiness will only resuscitate a story that should already be buried.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> So what do Jets tickets and immigration have in common?</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> They show a party not entirely up on its game.</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"> bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:ed182179-437e-429c-b32a-af96cc347eba For Garth, my friend http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a0b549b5a-0a06-4ce8-8a2b-fe1c1fe7503a&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 18 May 2012 18:26:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">When I last saw him in the hospital about a month ago he asked me that I write his obituary.</span></span></span></p> <p style="background:white;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">I said sure and shook his hand, not realizing it would be the last time I’d see him alive.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Garth Somers died earlier this week of lung cancer and other ailments.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">He was in his late 60s, I’m not sure of his exact age.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">I toyed briefly of writing an obituary for him while he was still alive, but I couldn’t figure out how’d I craft it.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">To be honest, I’m not even sure I should be writing this, but I want to keep my promise to him.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">I’ll keep it short.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Garth was my friend and I will miss him.</span></span></span></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/13/32fbff82-0d89-42c2-8d1c-f323ef697747.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/13/32fbff82-0d89-42c2-8d1c-f323ef697747.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p style="background:white;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">He was also the best source I had since starting in the business in April 1986, first at the <em>Winnipeg Sun</em>, then CBC and at the <em>Free Press</em>, where I’ve been 22 years.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Many of the stories I’ve done on bikers and crime and other topics were because of him. Some went national. Some went international. One even won an award for the CBC I-Team.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Garth also introduced me to a lot of interesting people, and I’ll just leave it at that.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">As we got to know one another over the years, our relationship became less about tips and stories, it became more about enjoying each other’s company.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Garth was no saint. Far from. Many of the people closer to him than me have picked up the pieces of his life over the years as he bounced around from running a bailiff service, running bars, promoting boxing fights, selling drugs and spending time in prison.</span></span></span></p> <p style="background:white;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Garth lived a hard life.</span></span></span></p> <p style="background:white;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">He also did a lot of damage to a lot of people. He knew that. We didn’t talk a lot about it, but when we did in quieter moments, he knew he had done a lot of wrong.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">He knew.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">So to his family, his kids, his brother and sisters, all my sympathies.</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">And to Garth, I know this isn’t exactly the obituary you wanted, but at the same time we didn't B.S. one another.</span></span></span></p> <p style="background:white;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="background-color:white;">Peace, my friend.</span></span></span></p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:0b549b5a-0a06-4ce8-8a2b-fe1c1fe7503a Free Jets tickets - why it matters http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3ab033c3fe-a495-4af9-8e62-4e06113df067&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 14 May 2012 18:18:00 GMT <p>  </p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">I’ve got a couple of emails and questions from friends about NDP cabinet ministers snapping up free Jets tickets.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The thrust is that the media is making a mountain out of molehill.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">I tell them they’re wrong.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">I tell them the entire affair, up until late Friday when Premier Greg Selinger finally put his foot down, is that it appears that some of his most senior ministers didn’t appreciate the optics of who paid for their ticket.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Or, at worst, they didn’t care, as long as they got to experience the vibe of the MTS Centre.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Our Attorney General Andrew Swan got to see the most games of his cabinet chums. He went to four games, but not all by himself. He obtained two tickets from Canad Inns for one game, one ticket from the Manitoba Homebuilders’ Association for another, one from Red River College for another and four from Manitoba Public Insurance for one game.  Swan is the minister for MPI.</span></span></p> <p>  </p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/4/72559d8f-a61f-46e0-84b2-b636e49b66db.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/4/72559d8f-a61f-46e0-84b2-b636e49b66db.Large.jpg?0" /></a></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-style:italic;line-height:18px;text-align:left;background-color:rgb(233, 233, 233);">Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan (seated right) watches as Winnipeg Jet Evander Kane takes out Mike Ribeiro of the Dallas Stars.</span> <span style="font-style:italic;line-height:18px;text-align:left;background-color:rgb(233, 233, 233);">John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS archives </span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Why Swan got to see so many more games than his caucus colleagues, I don’t know. I can only guess that he really likes hockey.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">On the list supplied by Selinger of what cabinet ministers got tickets and from whom, the Manitoba Homebuilders’ Association entertained the most cabinet ministers to free games than any other organization:</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">- Swan (one ticket to one game)</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">- Finance Minister Stan Struthers (two tickets to one game)</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">- Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux (one ticket to one game)</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">- Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyhn,( one ticket to one game)</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">- Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton (one ticket to one game) and;</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">- Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade Minister Peter Bjornson (one ticket to one game)</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Manitoba Homebuilders’ Association president Mike Moore says there was nothing sinister about the free games. The association has a one-quarter share of a season ticket package, that is four tickets for eleven games, and Moore has two.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">“I invited some personal friends and they brought their friends,” Moore says. “I can honestly say that during the course of the games no business was discussed, only hockey.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">“The individuals that I asked to come with me, the ones that I directly invited, are big hockey fans as much as myself. Again, it’s certainly not a question of targeting six individuals. It’s a question of inviting a couple of friends and asking them to bring along people.”</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Regardless, one would think these cabinet ministers should have known better.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The NDP has made a lot of hay since 2008 on lobbyists and public accountability. <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/historic/32828519.html">http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/historic/32828519.html</a></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Under the Lobbyists Registration Act, starting April 30 lobbyists in Manitoba must register with the province’s lobbyist registrar and disclose who they are lobbying and details about their lobby efforts. Swan announced the measures March 27.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">A lot of this information is public of the website of the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar <a href="http://www.lobbyistregistrar.mb.ca/" rel="nofollow">http://www.lobbyistregistrar.mb.ca/</a>.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The idea behind the act is that we can all see who’s actively lobbying government and about what.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Moore is not a registered lobbyist as, he says, he does not come close to putting in the 100 hours a year to be defined as an active lobbyist under the act, and that the non-profit homebuilders’ association itself does not do any direct business with government.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">“I would say some of the innuendos are certainly greatly overblown,” Moore says of the entire Jets ticket affair. “It’s unfortunate. It now has unsavory overtones. I really do believe that a very innocent and friendly gesture has been overblown, but I guess this suspicious nature is an everyday occurrence in our society.”</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Selinger has said his government ministers will no longer run that risk.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">On Friday he said his MLAs will no longer be able to accept Jets and other pro sports tickets -- even if they pay for them -- from Crown corporations, businesses and unions.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">"They shouldn't take them and anything where there might be a perceived conflict of interest," Selinger said. "I think they have to very careful about that."</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Selinger also wants the province's ethics commissioner to write up guidelines that extend to opposition MLAs as well.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The guidelines might look something like what MPs must follow. They’re governed by the Conflict of Interest Act which states in Sec. 11.1 that:</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">“No public office holder or member of his or her family shall accept any gift or other advantage, including from a trust, that might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence the public office holder in the exercise of an official power, duty or function.”</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">This means that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and other ministers, who attended the Winnipeg Jets’ Home Opener on Oct. 9, 2011, paid the face value for their tickets. Prime Minister Stephen Harper also paid.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">For the record, Premier Greg Selinger attended the same game on his own season ticket.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Manitoba's conflict of interest policy has not been updated since May 2007.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">It's aimed more at the civil service than cabinet ministers and government MLAs, but here's what it says:</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="line-height:15px;text-align:left;">Employees must not, directly or indirectly:</span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="line-height:15px;text-align:left;">- Solicit or accept fees, gifts or other benefits that are connected directly or indirectly with the performance of their public service duties, from any individual, organization or corporation, other than:</span></span></span></p> <ul style="font-family:Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, sans-serif;line-height:15px;text-align:left;"> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">the normal exchange of gifts among friends;</span></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">the normal exchange of hospitality between persons doing business together;</span></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">tokens exchanged as part of protocol;</span></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">the normal presentation of gifts to persons participating in public functions.</span></span></li> </ul> <p>  </p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">And lastly, in fairness, this is what Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau posted on his Facebook page on Saturday on his free tickets:</span></span></p> <p> <em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">“Many people have asked if I ever used Jets tickets paid for by tax payers or Crown agencies, etc. and the answer is absolutely not. </span></span></em></p> <p> <em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">"I did go to the Jets twice this year, once when a friend gave me his tickets and once with Labatt’s where I donated the price of my ticket to Mothers Against Drunk Driving one day after the event. I chatted with Labatt’s about working with them on FASD, No drunk Driving messages, and bringing to Manitoba the positive programs that Labatt’s rolled out in Ontario.</span></span></em></p> <p> <em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">"Both times I declared the items even though it was under the $250 statutory declaration limit. This information is on the public record even though it was not written in either newspaper. (Actually it was in  the </span></span></em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Free Press</span></span><em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"> – I wrote it: Bruce).</span></span></em></p> <p> <em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">"I also donated $175 to my walk to the Camino to Winnipeg Harvest for the ticket my friend gave me.</span></span></em></p> <p> <em><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">"Just clarifying the issue before anyone else asks.”</span></span></em></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</span></p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:b033c3fe-a495-4af9-8e62-4e06113df067 It's nothing personal, Mr. Speaker http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3ae3a26eeb-0102-4e6b-9be4-0eea0b0c3763&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 27 Apr 2012 19:31:00 GMT <p> The Manitoba government had hoped to pass its budget in the legislature today, but the vote will have to wait until next week.</p> <p> Over the past several days, the Opposition Conservatives have slowed government business by moving points of order and points of privilege in the House. </p> <p> Each time, Speaker Daryl Reid has overruled their motions — some times after days of consideration. And each time, Conservative House Leader Mavis Taillieu has risen to challenge Reid’s ruling. </p> <p> That’s prompted Reid to request a voice vote of MLAs to support or reject his decision. Government members have loudly voiced their support for his rulings, while Opposition members have loudly voted against. Each time, Reid has ruled (based on what he heard, not to mention the numbers of MLAs on each side) that the government side won the vote. And each time, Taillieu has risen to call for a recorded vote.</p> <p> That has set the legislature’s bells ringing for an hour while MLAs are called in for the vote (even if they’re all in the House, but that’s tradition). At the end of an hour, each member stands and has his or her vote recorded. And the Speaker’s rulings have been upheld.</p> <p> The Manitoba legislature has elected its speaker in a secret ballot of MLAs since 1999. Before that, speakers were appointed by the government. Challenging a ruling of the Speaker simply to make a political point — or as a delaying tactic — used to drive Reid’s predecessor, George Hickes, nuts. His view was: all of you elected me — either you have confidence in me or you don’t. </p> <p> There a delicious irony to Opposition challenges of Reid’s rulings. Although the premier denied it, it was rumoured that he favoured Selkirk MLA Greg Dewar last fall to succeed Hickes. That’s nothing against Reid, who had shown himself to be a very capable committee meeting chairman.</p> <p> Reid won the contest between himself and Dewar after the Tories seemingly voted en masse for the Transcona MLA, while the NDP votes were presumably split between the two men. We’ll never know for sure, of course, since it was a secret ballot. Selinger may have even cast his vote for Reid for that matter. But the Progressive Conservatives had big self-satisfied smiles on their faces after the vote.</p> <p> Meanwhile, Reid might wonder as he scans the Opposition benches these days: Where is the love?</p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:e3a26eeb-0102-4e6b-9be4-0eea0b0c3763 Leadership candidate Pallister weighs in on provincial budget http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a6c68591c-2db8-46ee-8913-70d0ac54f898&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 18 Apr 2012 20:40:00 GMT <p>Brian Pallister, so far Manitoba’s only confirmed Progressive Conservative leadership candidate, was more than an interested spectator yesterday at the unveiling of the 2012-2013 budget.</p> <p>He didn’t get a lot of press coverage. But he was there, available to all media, to provide his reaction to Stan Struthers' financial blueprint.</p> <p>Here, for the record, are some of the things he had to say: </p> <p><strong>Overall impressions</strong></p> <p>“My impression was that they were tinkering around the edges quite a bit with a number of the announcements today. I think probably what you’re seeing is just a logical continuation of what’s gone on for a dozen years, which is this: They’ve been putting on a play. They’ve been creating the illusion, or trying to as a government, that they can manage well fiscally. Today the curtain came down on the play and it should be moved off Broadway.”</p> <p><strong>On the government’s choices</strong></p> <p>“The NDP misses on the big decisions, the billion dollar decisions, such as the Bipole (hydro transmission line) route. And now it’s telling Manitobans they need to pay more. That doesn’t seem to be fair. That doesn’t seem to be right to me. They had the perfect recipe over the last decade plus to make a stronger Manitoba...higher revenues, lower interest rates, higher transfer payments and they blew it. They missed one essential ingredient in their recipe and that’s called foresight.”</p> <p><strong>On Manitoba’s increasing debt burden</strong></p> <p>“There is a gathering storm here. A lot of this debt is serviceable now at the lowest interest rates in modern history, including government debt. And we’ve got to start paying attention to the future here.”</p> <p><strong>On balancing the books by 2014</strong></p> <p>“Because it’s taken a long time to dig this hole, we should not be hasty in thinking we’ll get out of it rapidly. It’s going to take discipline and forethought to make sure we do this intelligently.”</p> <p><strong>On Manitoba’s assets</strong></p> <p>“I agree with the finance minister on many of his comments concerning the tremendous assets we have in this province and the wonderful people and so on and so forth. And those are comments I think we feel deeply about as Manitobans. We have a have-province generally. What we have is a have-not government as well. And that is the issue that I think really needs to be thought about by Manitobans.”</p> <p>larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca</p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:6c68591c-2db8-46ee-8913-70d0ac54f898 Dangerizing cycling with mandatory helmets? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3adc7b2ac5-520a-4e84-a4cf-a841ede51a1e&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 11 Apr 2012 19:29:00 GMT <p style="text-align:left;"> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">No decision has been made yet to make it illegal for cyclists to ride without a helmet.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">That's according to Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau, when I recently asked him if the province will soon introduce legislation making bike helmets mandatory.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">"I don't know," Rondeau said.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">However, he did add that the province is looking closely at what more it can do to get more cyclists protecting their noggins.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">But  getting police to hand out tickets as one way is not something the Selinger government is too eager to do, at this point anyway, he said.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Rondeau also said the province has been successful through education and incentives in almost doubling the number of cyclists who wear a helmet, from around 20 per cent a couple years ago to more than 40 per cent now.</span></span></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/12/b5d48cce-b610-4a09-8c00-7f6a7597c37e.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/12/b5d48cce-b610-4a09-8c00-7f6a7597c37e.Large.jpg?0" style="" /></a></p> <p> <em>Me riding my 1939 CCM Cleveland. Freep photog Mike Deal snapped it with his iPhone.</em></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Rondeau added he recently met with doctors who told him about two dozen serious head injuries could be prevented each year by simple use of a bike helmet.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">That reduction could save the health care system millions of dollars in treatment, he said, explaining many serious bike wipeouts aren’t during mountain bike races, but run-of-the-mill spills that could happen to anyone at anytime riding down a street or sidewalk.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Rondeau said the province is also aware of what the <a href="http://www.ecf.com/road-safety/helmets-and-reflective-vests/" rel="nofollow">European Cyclists' Federation</a> has to say about mandatory helmet use.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The ECF has had an ongoing campaign against helmet laws because they say such laws portrary cycling as abnormally dangerous. It also says its data shows helmets provide no net protective effect. </span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Helmets may provide some benefit to a certain kind of rider, such as a young child or off-road rider, but overall they offer little protection other than from minor knocks and bumps.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The ECF says countries that have mandatory helmet laws, like Australia, have not seen a  reduction in head injuries. The other risk of mandatory helmets laws is that it can reduce the number of people who cycle.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Rondeau also said the province doesn't want to bring in a mandatory helmet law that penalizes low income people -- the guy who cycles to work because he has to, but can't afford a helmet.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Right now, Manitoba is one of the few provinces that currently allows people to ride bikes without a helmet. Ontario and Alberta require protection for people under 18, while Nova Scotia, British Columbia and others require both children and adults to wear helmets.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Researchers at the University of Manitoba and the University of Ottawa said in a 2010 study that said cyclists were much more likely to wear helmets in provinces where the headgear is mandatory.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">A bill on helmet use, and new incentives to wear one, may come as early as the spring legislature session, which starts April 17.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">It could be just one of the roughly 50 bills the NDP plan to introduce over the next two months.</span></span></p> <p>  </p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:dc7b2ac5-520a-4e84-a4cf-a841ede51a1e To work with your hands http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a9bde9557-f895-4ff1-938c-ba1030b50a8b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 02 Apr 2012 23:32:00 GMT <p> <em>"The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away." - Matthew B. Crawford, <a href="http://www.matthewbcrawford.com/" rel="nofollow">Shop Class as Soulcraft</a></em></p> <p> Matt Jenkins swings the big hammer down hard with surgical precision. </p> <p> He's pounding the end of a red-hot metal bar to shape it into a twirly leaf.</p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/15/f96aaf98-eb7a-4521-af09-345778f47ace.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/15/f96aaf98-eb7a-4521-af09-345778f47ace.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <em>Matt hammering out a leaf.</em></p> <p> He says it's easy, that anyone can do it. Even me.</p> <p> But the best I can do is awkwardly bash out what looks like a dead, twisted twig.</p> <p> I first met Matt Jenkins when he was a little kid.</p> <p> That was in the summer of 1983 when I was hired by his parents Tom and Pam to help build their log home on their farm near Selkirk.</p> <p> Matt was a skinny little scrunt with a sly grin and a sparkle in his eyes.</p> <p> When I was working Matt and his sisters Niki and Jenn would sometimes wander onto the work site, their future home. One time we got into a huge watergun fight and I chased Matt down, dumping a bucket of water over him.</p> <p> He started crying and ran off to tell his parents.  I think the kids were warned not to come onto the site when I was there unless they had permission. It was too dangerous for them.</p> <p> I went back to the Jenkins' place recently to meet Matt again and to see what Pam has done with the place. Tom passed away in 2004.</p> <p> It's now called <a href="http://cloverdalefarm.ca/about" rel="nofollow">Cloverdale Farm</a>, a bed and breakfast and craft school where guests can learn how to work with their hands, to make something functional and lasting be it a basket or a metal leaf. And to appreciate the stillness of the country.</p> <p> Matt, like his dad, is a blacksmith. In his shop at the farm he moves around from forge to anvil to tool bench quickly. He doesn't pause to think about what he's doing - he just does it, his thinking done by the weight of the hammer and heat of the fire, and by the act of simply doing it.</p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/4/ac90b430-2fbc-43b3-9436-4608ba1de32c.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/4/ac90b430-2fbc-43b3-9436-4608ba1de32c.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> He's honed his skill over the years at such places at the at the John C. Campbell Craft School in North Carolina and now teaches part-time at Cloverdale.</p> <p> His next class is June 2-3 and he'll have a booth at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Look for his custom bottle openers and skull belt buckles.</p> <p> Watching Matt at work over the roar of the coal forge and the clanging of his hammer on the large black anvil brought back memories of when I used to make a living with my hands. </p> <p> My tools were a chainsaw, axes and chisels. And a pair of <a href="http://youtu.be/5vVPkyIirAA" rel="nofollow" style="font-family:'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;font-size:14px;">log scribers</a>. I learned the skill in 1980 while helping to build Lount Lodge at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens.</p> <p> I still have most of my tools, but over the past 28 years I've spent more time in front of a computer and phone than actually creating things with my hands, taking raw materials like logs or lumber or brick and making something special, something lasting.</p> <p> I built a bunkhouse at the lake a couple of summers ago, but that was just a fraction of what I used to do before I enrolled in Creative Communications at Red River Community College, after I finished at the Jenkins' place in '84.</p> <p> Sometimes I miss the roar of the chainsaw in my hands as it cuts into the fresh wood, the spray of the wood chips and saw dust, the smell of the chain oil on my clothes and the dirt of a day's work outside under my fingernails.</p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/14/9f6ead33-1ddb-4119-beca-d3770cc9923c.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/14/9f6ead33-1ddb-4119-beca-d3770cc9923c.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/1/13/11ca9a1a-df20-4efd-9d06-b8774d78ae38.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/1/13/11ca9a1a-df20-4efd-9d06-b8774d78ae38.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/5/849906b2-ef6d-44b1-a5c3-03f09135c043.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/5/849906b2-ef6d-44b1-a5c3-03f09135c043.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <em>From top to bottom: Me in '83 chiseling part of a log truss; the finished truss being moved by tractor to the building site; the truss as it looks today.</em></p> <p> I became a journalist in small part because it was in a way a craft, but without the calluses and slivers in my hands. It was a safe and stable way I could earn a living, learn new things and still make some kind of contribution.</p> <p> But it's not the same. What I do now isn't really lasting. Now it doesn't survive beyond a couple of hours, if not minutes or seconds on Twitter.</p> <p> It's also a lot like what Crawford says. Over the last couple of decades our collective focus has moved away from the trades like metal work or log building towards technology. We tell many young people the best hope for their futures is learning how to code and build websites and apps for mobile phones. Chase the knowledge economy we tell them, whatever the hell that is. </p> <p> Lay bricks or hammer nails? Why bother? Why even teach it? It's too menial for our pink hands and delicate fingers.</p> <p> Yet. . .</p> <p> "The physical circumstances of the jobs performed by carpenters, plumbers, and auto mechanics vary too much for them to be executed by idiots; they require circumspection and adaptability. One feels like a man, not a cog in a machine," Crawford said in a 2006 essay in <a href="http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/shop-class-as-soulcraft" rel="nofollow">The New Atlantis</a>. "<span style="font-size:14px;line-height:22px;text-align:left;">The trades are then a natural home for anyone who would live by his own powers, free not only of deadening abstraction, but also of the insidious hopes and rising insecurities that seem to be endemic in our current economic life. This is the stoic ideal."</span></p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:9bde9557-f895-4ff1-938c-ba1030b50a8b Surprise, surprise http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a0a52fdf0-5053-43f8-b49f-c31120c9c29b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Mon, 02 Apr 2012 16:00:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/9/7cae0cb5-0a7a-4a76-9989-bc85c0815666.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/9/7cae0cb5-0a7a-4a76-9989-bc85c0815666.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p>  </p> <p> <span style="font-size:16px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Opening soon.</span></span></p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:0a52fdf0-5053-43f8-b49f-c31120c9c29b The judge, her decision and Graham James http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a66107a00-071e-4bd7-b955-6e7cd876d213&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:40:00 GMT <p>  </p> <p> <em>“Canadians ought to know that justice isn’t fickle. It does not depend on the judge’s whim or preference. It does not bend to the mob, or to political winds, or to the agenda of special interest groups. It isn’t dispensed as a flavour of the month. Rather, justice’s only loyalty is to the Rule of Law.” </em>- Justice Jamie W. S. Saunders of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, May 23, 2003</p> <p> Provincial Court Judge Catherine Carlson must have known when she was assigned the Graham James case it’d be like sticking her head in a cannon.</p> <p> There’d be no way she would she would make everyone happy. </p> <p> She also couldn’t make up law on the fly. All she could possibly do was follow it. </p> <p> That’s how the system works. Judges don’t make law. They just interpret it. Politicians make law.</p> <p> “She bent over backwards to be fair and impartial and to follow the law and not be biased towards one side or the other,” a justice source said. “She just completely followed what she was sworn to do and followed her duty.”</p> <p> Within minutes of her decision Carlson, a judge since 2006, was being slammed across the country for only sending James to prison for two years. Fearless and nameless open-line radio and on-line critics demanded that the reviled former junior hockey coach should’ve been given six years in the slammer as the Crown requested. </p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/3/6fd5f1ff-b967-456f-835a-bb3597726e0c.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/3/6fd5f1ff-b967-456f-835a-bb3597726e0c.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <em>Graham James shields his face from photographers prior to being sentenced.</em></p> <p> The Crown is now reviewing Carlson’s 30-page decision—one of the more well-crafted written decisions to come out of our courts—to see if there are any legal grounds to appeal it.</p> <p> The Crown just can’t appeal her decision because they don’t like the two-year sentence—they have to put on their nitpicking glasses to see if there’s any place where she screwed up legally, any place where she missed the boat in interpreting past court cases and how they applied to Graham James.</p> <p> In her first few sentences (take the time to read her <a href="http://media.winnipegfreepress.com/documents/JamesGrahamDecision2012.pdf">decision here</a>) she said the James’ case was unique to any other in Canadian law. I won’t get into why; Freep colleague Dan Lett describes it perfectly <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/correct-yes-right-unfortunately-not-143609916.html">here</a>.</p> <p> In doing her job, Carlson also struggled with <a href="http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/1998/1998canlii7143/1998canlii7143.pdf" rel="nofollow">R. v. Stuckless</a>. The Stuckless case is the only one in Canada that approaches the particulars of the James’ case.</p> <p> Gordon Stuckless pleaded guilty to 24 charges of indecent and sexual assault relating to an almost 20-year history of assaulting boys between the ages of 10 and 15 between 1969 and 1988 when he worked for Maple Leaf Gardens as assistant equipment manager.</p> <p> He was sentenced to a provincial jail term of two years less a day. An Ontario appeal court in 1998 increased Stuckless's sentence to five years in a federal penitentiary.The sentence took into account the 12 months Stuckless spent in pre-trial custody. Stuckless was paroled in 2001.</p> <p> Now to James. In 1997 he was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for sexually abusing Sheldon Kennedy when the former NHLer played junior hockey. James was paroled in 2000.</p> <p> On Tuesday Carlson handed James two years for sexually abusing former NHL star Theoren Fleury and Todd Holt, Fleury's younger cousin, when he coached them as teenagers during the 1980s and early 1990s. Carlson said in her decision James’ two-year sentence took in account the five weeks he spent in pre-trial custody.</p> <p> So, based on the Stuckless precedent, how far out-of-line is Carlson’s two-year sentence for James, considering he's already got 3 1/2 years under his belt?</p> <p> Which case is worse? Stuckless or James?</p> <p> It seems to me the big difference is one involves former NHL players and one doesn't.</p> <p> It also begs the question that if the Crown appeals James what can the Court of Appeal of Manitoba do that Carlson didn't ? Not much.</p> <p> Like Carlson, the judges of the appeal court are also bound by the Rule of Law.</p> <p> “If you look at that Stuckless case, that was way worse and look what he got,” the justice source said. “The courts are stuck with what the law is. You can’t fault the judge for what the law is.</p> <p> “If you are a litigant in court, regardless of what the case is, the only thing you want is a judge who is fair and impartial land upholds the law. And that’s all she tried to do—be fair and impartial to both sides.”</p> <p>  </p> <p> bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</p> <div>  </div> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:66107a00-071e-4bd7-b955-6e7cd876d213 The session ahead http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3ac8109c5b-d4c0-45c4-8705-510c7b34a8ae&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 15 Mar 2012 18:01:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>The next session</strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">The legislative session kicks off April 17 with Stan Struthers' first budget as finance minister.</span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">What a lucky guy.</span></span></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/7/13/87ce3c82-8918-4d86-8d79-d5cdd5b88366.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/7/13/87ce3c82-8918-4d86-8d79-d5cdd5b88366.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <span style="font-size:9px;"><em>Struthers (Manitoba government)</em></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">Struthers has been kind enough to already let us know the big news in his budget, that the summary deficit will hit </span><a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/deficit-to-hit-record-112b-142188613.html" style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;">$1.12-billion</a><span style="font-family:georgia, serif;font-size:14px;"> for the fiscal year ending March 31. Part of that shortfall is driven by flood costs, but it’s also due to higher-than-forecast spending in several government departments.</span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">What else is in Struthers' budget, we can only guess at this point. No doubt it’ll contain a plan on how he and the NDP will contain or reduce spending–barring another natural disaster—over the next couple of years. </span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">We also wonder how much of what the NDP promised during the fall election campaign will be delayed, like the pledge of hiring 200 more doctors and 2,000 more nurses, hiring 50 police officers to patrol the downtown or eliminating the school tax for Manitoba seniors.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Where we may find out is after the budget debate, which lasts a week.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">That’s when the house goes into a process known as “Estimates.” It’s in these meetings, open to the public, in which government ministers, including the premier, are grilled by opposition critics on the inner workings of each department.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Following that, the NDP are expected to table a number of new bills. One opposition estimate is 40 to 60, but that sounds a little high given that the house is to break for the summer June 14.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">They don’t have to do it immediately, but the NDP will also have to amend the province’s fixed-date election legislation. The next provincial election is scheduled for Oct. 6, 2015, but that’s close to the same time as the next federal election, which is scheduled for Oct. 19, 2015.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Anything can happen over the next three years, but mostly likely Selinger’s NDP will amend legislation so voters go to the polls in either the spring of 2015 or the following spring so that there’s no conflict with the feds. <a href="http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Saskatchewan+Party+seeks+2015+election+date/5866124/story.html?cid=megadrop_story" rel="nofollow">Saskatchewan</a> has already made such plans.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">There will also have to be a by-election called, probably in a year, to replace Hugh McFadyen, who is to step down after a new Progressive Conservative leader is chosen by the party Oct. 27.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>What Americans say about Hydro</strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Here’s what a U.S. writer says about Manitoba Hydro and its dealings with Minnesota and Wisconsin: <a href="http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2012/03/15/canadian-hydropower-producers-expand-for-growing-us-market/" rel="nofollow">Canadian hydro producers eye growing U.S. market</a>.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">I only pass it on to show the debate over the future of Manitoba Hydro involves more than the Bipole III transmission line.</span></span></p> <p> <a href="mailto:bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca" rel="nofollow">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</a></p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:c8109c5b-d4c0-45c4-8705-510c7b34a8ae Do Liberals Matter? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a2e394b47-98d0-4b84-82ae-2cc1cc681dd0&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 07 Mar 2012 22:26:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>“<span style="font-size:14px;">In French or in English, we would like to thank him for his long years of service as Leader of the Liberal Party and we wish him to stay as long as he would like, Mr. Speaker.”</span></em><span style="font-size:14px;"> – Premier Gary Doer on his last question period Oct. 9, 2009. </span></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Those words don’t convey what Doer actually said that day.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Up in the press gallery, I remember them quite clearly. What Doer was really saying was: “Jon Gerrard, as long as you’re leader of the Liberal party, the NDP will stay in power for a very long time.”</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/2/5e246f94-e37b-47bc-82a4-94c1fadb7406.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/2/5e246f94-e37b-47bc-82a4-94c1fadb7406.Large.jpg?0" /></a></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">With those words – you can read the full exchange here <a href="http://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/hansard/3rd-39th/vol_77b/h77b.html" rel="nofollow" style="font-family:'times new roman',times,serif;">http://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/hansard/3rd-39th/vol_77b/h77b.html#OQ</a> – Doer brushed off Gerrard like a crumb off the kitchen table.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Just about two years later, on the Oct. 4 provincial election, voters did the same thing to the Liberals.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">The Liberals dropped to 7.52  per cent in popular vote and Gerrard, despite a concentrated push by the Progressive Conservatives to oust him, hung onto to his River Heights seat to remain the only Liberal in the house.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">The poor performance also hit them in the bank account. In the past the Liberals collected $64,821 in annual allowance ($1.25 per vote) under the province’s Elections Finances Act.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Now, with their performance at the polls, and the loss of former Liberal MLA Kevin Lamoureux to Parliament, the Liberals will only collect $40,525. (The Tories and NDP do not collect the per vote subsidy). That’s not much money to run a political party.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">That bad showing also led Gerrard to having to give up his main floor office at the legislative building for smaller confines, both for him and his tiny staff. Gerrard's old office was taken up by Interlake NDP MLA Tom Nevakshonoff.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">So with that, is it surprising the Gerrard and the Manitoba Green Party under James Beddome started talking about a merger?</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">From what I've been told, it shouldn't be. </span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">This "Machiavellian" plan as first intended was hatched to stop the Liberal bleeding and to give the Greens some badly needed credibility. More so, it would also increase support for a new party in the 2015 election.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">But it was launched badly. The full Liberal board didn’t have a clue it was happening. It's unclear if the Green's full executive also knew, although I've been told Beddome put two of his lieutenants in charge of negotiating a merger deal. Gerrard also put two of his people to work.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Beddome has denied there was any formal arrangement to talk about a merger.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Anyway, things hit the fan Feb. 25 when Liberal directors met in Winnipeg to begin charting how the party can resuscitate itself for 2015.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Near the end of the meeting the "merger" idea was tabled. Within hours I knew about it, although it had been out there at least a week earlier.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">By Monday it was full damage control for both parties with denials flying faster than pucks at the MTS Centre.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">A week later both parties put the kibosh on any talks. The Liberals also sacrificed two of their own (Harry Wolbert and Sandra Hoskins) for speaking publicly about the merger and for criticizing their leader.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">Gerrard survived, although his board neutered him from doing anything more about a possible merger. Talk of that will only be allowed when the Liberals pick a new leader as Gerrard said he'll step down sometime in 2013. Whether he'll run again as a Liberal in River Heights in 2015 is unknown--he's refused to talk about it.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">So this short, torrid affair between the Liberals and Greens is over before they even got a chance to hold hands in public.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;">I wonder, was anyone really paying attention? Does anyone really care?</span></span></p> <h2> <span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="mailto:bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca" rel="nofollow">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</a></span></span></h2> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:2e394b47-98d0-4b84-82ae-2cc1cc681dd0 O Brad Wall, Brad Wall, wherefore art thou? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3ac18b3b1f-bb9a-4d11-a97d-40750716a1ed&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 29 Feb 2012 18:36:00 GMT <p> The last time I checked he had a full-time job in Saskatchewan.</p> <p> But that hasn’t stopped a few on Manitoba’s Right from trying to clone Wall and his success with the Saskatchewan Party in Manitoba.</p> <p> They apparently want to call it the Manitoba Party with the goal of fielding candidates in the next provincial election in 2015. It would include disgruntled Tories and Liberals and anyone else who views the reigning NDP as a Marxist scourge driving the province to financial ruin, making it the Mississippi of Canada.</p> <p> If Wall is their messiah, Saskatoon radio host John Gormley is their prophet. His book <em><a href="http://www.leftout.ca/" rel="nofollow"><em>Left Out: Saskatchewan's NDP and the Relentless Pursuit of Mediocrity</em></a></em> <em>i</em>s considered essential reading for those who see a future so bleak, because of Manitoba’s NDP, that their children’s children will be living in dung huts on a scorched prairie. Gormley’s book is part a how-to on how to fight back against so-called unimaginative, uninspired, do-nothing government. In Saskatchewan’s case, that would be the NDP under Roy Romanow and later Lorne Calvert.</p> <p> In Manitoba, a new right-wing party could supposedly duplicate the Saskatchewan Party’s electoral success. Wall was swept into office in 2007 and last Nov. 7, cemented his and his party’s hold on power by winning 49 of 58 seats in the Saskatchewan legislature, leaving the once mighty NDP with nine seats.</p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/4/6e05e3fb-3c9f-45fd-94b3-176f27cc0058.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/4/6e05e3fb-3c9f-45fd-94b3-176f27cc0058.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p> <span style="font-size:11px;"><em>Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall</em></span></p> <p> Again, the general feeling of those said to be behind a Manitoba Party—I’ve tried to speak to some of those said to be involved, but they’re as quiet as church mice on a Sunday—is that this province is in the same floundering boat Saskatchewan was before Wall.</p> <p> The icing on the cake for them was the Oct. 4 provincial election and the Progressive Conservative’s failure to win more than the 19 seats it already had going into the fall campaign.</p> <p> There’s also the dismal PC campaign, abandoning the proud Tory legacy of former Premier Gary Filmon, in a misguided attempt to outdo the NDP on just about every plank except the Bipole III transmission line.</p> <p> Because of that, they believe that the Progressive Conservative name is so damaged it won’t be able to recover by 2015, and that the NDP will coast to victory for another four years.</p> <p> So, what is to be done?</p> <p> Easy, they say. Unite. Unite. Unite. Fight. Fight. Fight.</p> <p> Trouble is, is the Progressive Conservative name really that damaged in Manitoba?</p> <p> Yes, to talk and to look at some in the party five months after the election it’s like watching an episode of the Walking Dead.</p> <p> But there’s still a pulse. Its heart still beats.</p> <p> Why the Saskatchewan Party has been so successful in that province is because the Progressive Conservatives cut their own throats. The lid on their coffin was hammered shut in the early 90s when 14 former PC MLAs were convicted of fraud and breach of trust in a phony expense-claim scandal.</p> <p> In Manitoba, we don’t have that. We only have a PC Party that made a few dumb decisions in the fall campaign. There will be no criminal charges, no public inquiry.</p> <p> What’s also missing is a Brad Wall. Simply, we don’t have one.</p> <p> Another drawback to this low chatter about a Manitoba Party is that it distracts from the real business at hand—finding a replacement for outgoing PC leader Hugh McFadyen and then moving forward.</p> <p> Whether it’s to be Brian Pallister or Kelvin Goertzen or whomever, they’ll have their hands full enough raising the PC profile going into 2015 without being sandbagged by a second right-wing party.</p> <p> Unless, of course, the PCs do the unthinkable and fold their tent and join it.</p> <p> <a href="mailto:bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca" rel="nofollow">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</a></p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:c18b3b1f-bb9a-4d11-a97d-40750716a1ed Kennedy's Just Visiting http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86e&plckPostId=Blog%3a3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost%3a08f4d26a-d70e-4a84-90ac-301a1f690772&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 10 Feb 2012 16:20:00 GMT <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">It’s time to put to rest one rumour floating around at who might be the next Jon Gerrard.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">It won’t be former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">Kennedy says he has no aspirations to be the next leader of Manitoba’s Liberals.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">"I don’t have any plans to move back to Manitoba," Kennedy says. "There seems to be a persistent rumour, but I don’t know where that comes from. "</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">Kennedy grew up in Manitoba — he’s originally from The Pas — and his siblings and father still live here. But that’s as far as goes — family visits.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">He said one local media outlet that contacted him about his provincial leadership hopes claimed to know the street he was moving to in Winnipeg — news to Kennedy, who lives in Toronto.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">"I have lots of regard for the Manitoba political scene. I don’t know what the Liberals' prospects are going to be. Obviously they need a turnaround."</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">The former Ontario minister of education, who made an unsuccessful bid for the leadership of the federal Liberal party in 2006, said his focus now is rebuilding the Liberal riding association in Parkdale–High Park. He had sought re-election to his old federal seat in Toronto last May, but lost to the NDP's Peggy Nash.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">Kennedy, who runs his own consulting firm Enterprising for the Public Good, says he’s also working on a national Liberal foundation.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">"Those are the things that have my time right now on the political front," he said.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">Manitoba Liberals are to hold a leadership contest within 18 months, with the exact date to be set at the party's annual general meeting in May.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">Gerrard has said last week he'd step down as leader in 2013, but plans to complete his term as MLA for River Heights.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;">The Liberals won two seats in the 2007 general election and only one -- Gerrard's own riding -- in the Oct. 4 provincial election. In that vote, the party's popular vote slipped to 7.8 per cent.</span></span></p> <p style="padding:0px 0px 10px;border-width:0px;margin:0px;text-align:left;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> <span style="font-size:18px;"><span style="font-family:times new roman,times,serif;"><a href="mailto:bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca" rel="nofollow" style="outline-style:none;color:rgb(51, 51, 51);font-weight:bold;">bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca</a><a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/3/19fccc0f-1ca8-4072-b30b-836186b80d29.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/3/19fccc0f-1ca8-4072-b30b-836186b80d29.Large.jpg?0" /></a></span></span></p> Blog:3963faa3-c356-4504-8000-a8e16ac5c86ePost:08f4d26a-d70e-4a84-90ac-301a1f690772