Archive for October, 2010

Of increasing importance

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Having attended many candidate forums over the years, it’s interesting to note how people perform and how that performance is perceived. Being able to speak in pubic is generally considered a positive thing for councillors and mayors. Unfortunately it may, or may not, be a reflection of their sincerity or their abilities.
Note that sincerity is listed first, ahead of abilities. It’s tough to evaluate sincerity until you get to know a person. It becomes somewhat easier after a candidate has actually been in office for a while. Most candidates say they are sincere but it is rarely proved until some time in office has been experienced. That’s why it’s important to listen to a candidate, talk to them in person if possible and find out as much about them as you can. Most candidates are only well known by a relatively small group of friends and family until they get into public office.
When asked what’s the most important attributes of a candidate, the answer, as it was at the Gladstone candidate forum on Monday night, is usually honesty and integrity. Gladstone council candidates, Dave Thiessen and Dawn Cobrough at Gladstone are to be praised for stating the obvious and having the courage to do so in a pubic forum. We expect honesty and integrity from all our public officials. Fortunately, we get it most of the time, but it’s important not to become lax in our standards. It’s important to re-state these desirables attributes again and again as a reminder to candidates and ourselves. 
At the Neepawa forum it was good to hear all the candidates talk about the need for housing and how the influx of immigrants is a very good thing for Neepawa and in fact for the whole area. One needs to be a bit careful though. On the housing issue there has been a lot more talk than action. Lack of capital, lack of ability and a lack of real leadership has left Neepawa way back in the dust on housing issues. To those who have actually stepped up and have built housing, we must offer thanks and respect. To those who have dropped the ball, we can offer a gentle reprimand. 
Such a reprimand is in order for the Neepawa council but especially for Mayor Durston. Always the cautious leader, Durston should have taken a much stronger stand with the minister of Health Teresa Oswald when she delayed the Eastview Lodge re-development. Instead of taking a wait-and-see attitude, the mayor should have gone into full attack mode on this issue. The minister made a huge mistake in delaying the EVL project. Potential investment evaporated, the building sat longer, deteriorated more. It was the unfortunate and thankless task for the mayor to lead the charge on this issue and if it happened, it wasn’t made known to the public. Ironically, the health minister’s misguided delay is going to potentially cost her department hundreds of thousands of dollars if EVL has to be demolished
On the value of immigration, let’s just say that all the Neepawa forum candidates ranged from being thankful to having glowing praise for Neepawa’s good fortune in having a large and growing immigrant community. We need to make sure that in public and private conversation that this attitude stays consistent. Having heard the odd derogatory comment, yes even from councillors, puts a person on alert. Racist comments cannot be tolerated, whether they come from long-time Canadians or from newcomers. 
Most candidates hold themselves to very high standards. That’s a good thing. Elections, candidate forums, public discussions help to keep us all at a high standard. Voting is hugely important, so next Wednesday is the big day. Get out and vote, make your voice and vote count. Every election is the most important one. That’s not a cliche. This municipal election is the most important one ever held. As our communities grow and develop, we have bigger and more important issues to solve every year. That’s just the way it is, each election surpasses the previous one in importance because of the ascending importance of the issues we face. If it isn’t so, then we simply aren’t progressing.

A year long campaign

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Less than a month from now is the municipal election. Less than a year from now is the Manitoba election. We might have a federal election in between. 
With Manitoba’s election just a year away, it’s reported in Tuesday’s Winnipeg Free Press that premier Selinger said, “The choice is clear: McFadyen’s Conservatives would whack the budget. They would rip up the boreal forest. They would abolish minimum wage improvements. They would do all of those things that make our province the kind of place it was in the ‘90s when people were leaving, when there were gangs forming.”
This was Selinger’s noisiest volley against the rising tide of the PC Manitoba party. Currently sitting at 49 per cent in an overall Manitoba poll to the NDP’s 34 per cent, Selinger is rallying the troops. But judge his words for what they are worth. 
1. Whack the budget: Well somebody better do something with the budget as the NDP spent $500 million more than they took in the budget year ending March 31, 2010.
2. Rip up the boreal forest: The NDP Bi-Pole III west side hydro route goes through more forest plus a pile of farmland, so it’s debatable about which route does more “ripping” up. Besides, either route is a very narrow strip of land that will have economic and environmental benefits that will far outweigh any damage.
3. Abolish minimum wage improvements: Guess who benefits most when minimum wage goes up? It’s the government, as they take in more taxes. Minimum wage increases may in fact harm low income earners as costs go up, taxes increase and they often get their hours cut as small businesses try to hang on to already slim profit margins. Governments would do everybody a favour if they increased the tax exemption for low income earners instead of raising minimum wage.
4. When gangs were forming: That’s a stretched statement seeing as gangs have been around for a long time, don’t seem to be going away and neither the provincial nor the federal NDP are noted for being particularly tough on crime. In fact, crime is so bad that stats now show that unreported crime has risen drastically.
Selinger is running scared. He isn’t able to control the Doer-built coalition of traditional NDP voters, the Manitoba Federation of Labour and the large health care and teachers unions. There are several reasons for that. For one, he’s not Gary Doer. Doer had a strange and magical hold on people and Selinger doesn’t. Another reason is that after 11 years of blaming the PC party for everything, the NDP have failed to really capture Manitobans’ imagination with their own vision. That’s because, if they have a vision, it’s an obscure one at best. They plod from one budget to the next, having spent every nickel they have collected, burned up all the federal transfer payments and increased spending by nearly double what the PCs did in “the bad old 90s”. Now they are in the glue for $500 million in last year’s budget.  The 2009-10 budget was supposed to be balanced according to this March 25, 2009 government press release, “Manitoba will be deficit-free in 2009-10 as a result of today’s budget, the 10th straight balanced budget.”
If you want see how badly Wowchuk blew her predictions and how she is covering it up, you can view the report on line at: www.mywestman.ca/images/stories/PublicAccounts.pdf
Roseann Wowchuk will claim it’s only $200 million (only!!). But to get to that magical place in her accounting dreams she has to include the profits from MPIC, Hydro and all the other Crown Corporations. There’s only one bit of trouble with that fantasy. The Crown Corporations don’t turn that profit over to the government, that money stays on the corporation books as retained earnings. In Hydro’s case, it’s supposed to reduce their borrowing that, by the way, is way out of sight as well but Roseann forgets to tell us that. This government has taken a budget surplus from the 90s and spent it all. They have increased spending, far faster than income, and now they are rallying the troops to tell us that it’s all good for us. We should want another five years of this nonsense. Yes, five years, as they have another year in their mandate and want to be re-elected for four more.
The question people must answer is two-fold. Do we want more of this tax and spend government? And even if the majority of voters want it, can we afford it? If they continue at a deficit of $500 million per year for five more years, that comes to $2.5 billion more debt. That’s over $2000 more debt per person, per man, woman and child in Manitoba. Add that to the over $18,000 per person debt today and one has to wonder about the viability of our province.
If the PC Manitoba party can get people to understand that, Selinger will need a lot more than rallies if he plans to be elected.


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