Archive for October, 2009

Why Steve Ashton should be premier of Manitoba

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Why Steve Ashton should be premier of Manitoba
By Ken Waddell
Steve Ashton should be premier of Manitoba. At least he should be premier for a short while, say until the next election which is scheduled for fall of 2011.
From personal experience and observation, the reasons are clear that Ashton should be premier.
First of all, let’s deal with the opponents. As of Monday, when Andrew Swan dropped out of the race, about all that I could say from personal experience is that Swan has a deficient personality.
The remaining opponent, Greg Sellinger, has few attributes to his credit either. He’s not terribly personable, but overlooking that deficiency, he has presided over all 10 Doer NDP budgets. He’s never seen a tax dollar he didn’t want to spend. And he’s done it very well, spending now $4 billion a year more than when he took over from the Filmon PC Manitoba government in 1999.  And to add insult to injury, he’s done it by sucking every dollar he can out of the federal government.
Turning to Ashton, the story is quite different. In my term as mayor of Neepawa, we had a small flooding disaster in the Town of Neepawa. We applied for help under a the provincial disaster relief program and Steve Ashton, as minister in charge, actually came out to Neepawa to have a look. He made sure that members of council could be there. He even made sure that Ste. Rose MLA Glen Cummings, who of course isn’t NDP, was able to be there. Ashton handled the problem well.
On a more personal note, in my travels Ashton and I have crossed paths a number of times. He always takes time to stop what he’s doing and have a brief chat. He asks me how I’m  doing and how things are at Neepawa. Ashton is an experienced politician but even more important, he’s an experienced person.
Ashton has always taken a firm stand on policies. The leadership race is no exception. He has put out many policies, including planning to raise welfare rates, freeze tuition fees and bring in anti-scab legislation. Anti-scab legislation is more politely known as legislation to prevent replacement workers in case of strikes or lockouts.
Ashton puts his policies right out there for all to see. That’s a good thing. With that style of politician you can then have a debate on policy. As strange as it may seem, policy is rarely debated in public, in the legislature or anywhere. With Ashton you know what his policies are and you can examine various options. You can agree with some, and I do agree that welfare rates should be raised a bit. People who genuinely need welfare can’t live on the out-dated rates of assistance. Anti-scab legislation isn’t a good way to take our labour laws. As to tuition fees, one can sympathize with Ashton’s intent but the method is wrong. Freezing tuition fees hasn’t met its intended goal of increasing university access. The problem is deeper than tuition fees and needs to be addressed.
So there you have a mini debate on three policies. One is okay, one is wrong and one is misguided. Debate is pretty simple.
In contrast, name one piece of legislation or one policy that Gary Doer brought in in his 10 years. It’s pretty hard to nail that one down. Gary Doer is a pragmatic politician almost totally lacking in principles. Except for the fact that he worked to get re-elected over and over again, there is no other legacy. Continuing that style and path is what Greg Sellinger is all about. Continuing that path is not what Steve Ashton is all about and that’s why he should become leader of Manitoba’s NDP and the premier of Manitoba.
The NDP should come out of hiding and state their policies. The opposition parties should do the same and let the electorate decide which option they want.
Steve Ashton is definitely a step in the right direction for the NDP and his approach is good for Manitoba. 
Manitoba needs a good, solid policy debate on our future. Ashton’s approach is a good start and he should be given the opportunity to govern.


kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247