Posts Tagged ‘doer’

Not surprisingly, Bill Blaikie said today that he never had any intention of running for the leadership.  I didn’t think that he would want the job, and unless there is a significant “Draft Blaikie” campaign, Bill Blaikie is out of the race.

Greg Selinger seems to be hinting that he is going to run, which should make him the leadership candidate to beat.  However, it sounds like Gord Mackintosh is also considering a run, and he is also rumoured to have a strong team of supporters.

Rumours are circulating about Peter Bjornson also considering, while it’s still assumed that Steve Ashton is leaning towards running.  Theresa Oswald and Pat Martin are possibilities, but I believe it’s unlikely that either will run.  Nancy Allan is definitely out.

Doer has said that caucus will expect any leadership candidates to remove themselves as ministers, and that the legislative session from Sept 14th to Oct 8th will go forward.  The new leader will be chosen Oct 17th, but it’s not yet clear if Doer will remain as Premier until that date.

Fall Session to go Ahead, Tom Brodbeck, Winnipeg Sun
New premier arrives Oct. 17, Bruce Owen and Larry Kusch, Winnipeg Free Press

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AP Photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian

Voting in Iran - AP Photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian


Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba

I’ve been pretty timid about the election financing issue, and this is mostly because I myself have a return to submit to Elections Manitoba, and I understand how daunting the procedures are.  I certainly hope that I haven’t made any mistakes, since the personal and political repercussions can be huge.  But I decided that I should voice my opinion on the issue because it doesn’t feel right to be silent just because the issue is a sensitive one for those of us who have stood for election.

I can’t honestly say that the situation in Iran, where electoral fraud is suspected by supporters of the runner-up, is the same as the situation in Manitoba, where the opposition Tories and Liberals are publicly stating that they have lost confidence in the Chief Electoral Officer.  But what I can say is that there’s a slippery slope between having an independent elections office that does not need to answer questions from the opposition and a guardian council who refuses outside or independent observers and limits possible candidates to those they deem worthy.

There are many people with knowledge and experience of Iran on both sides of the electoral fraud argument.  There are convincing arguments that it’s highly unusual that voters who overwhelmingly chose reform in 2000 would have switched their allegiance to the hard-line Ahmadinejad, while there are also strong arguments that the official result was realistic and expected.

The problem with the Iranian election is that there is really no way to know if there was any vote-rigging because the process was not transparent.  Apparently some of the candidates’ representatives were not allowed to supervise the vote count as they are supposed to be able to do.  While there was an apparent leak of results that showed Mousavi having won with 19 million votes (from an Interior Ministry official who is reported now to have died in a mysterious car accident), no hard evidence has been presented so far.  It’s unlikely that any hard evidence will be found of wrongdoing, and it’s also unlikely that the Iranian government could ever convince the protestors that the election was fair.  This is the result of a closed and unaccountable electoral system, where outside observers are not allowed and where the Guardians Council (six clerics and six legislature-appointed legal experts) make all decisions on recounts and even which candidates are allowed to run in the first place.

Here in Manitoba we have an election financing debacle.  As a former candidate, I know that it’s hard to keep track of expenses, donations, and advertising during the campaign.  It was hard enough for me to even remember where I was supposed to be on a given day.  So I don’t want to presume that whenever there is an irregularity in a candidate’s return, that it’s a malicious attempt to commit elections fraud.  But there are some things that need to be explained by the NDP and Elections Manitoba:

1.    Finance Minister Greg Selinger felt that the false returns were dangerous enough for him to request a letter exonerating him of any wrongdoing.  This act seems to indicate that he felt that someone in the NDP was involved in wrongdoing.
2.    There are many unanswered questions involving the conduct of the NDP towards the auditor chosen by Elections Manitoba, as well as the conduct of Elections Manitoba itself towards that auditor.
3.    The Premier of Manitoba has refused to indicate who informed him of the false expenses in 2001, and will not indicate a more exact date for when he was told.
4.    The NDP has freely admitted that it has been filing the same type of false returns since the mid-1980s, yet Elections Manitoba and the NDP held private negotiations resulting in only the $76,000 from 1999 being paid back.

So why do questions need to be answered on these concerns?  Is it so that the Tories and Liberals can win more seats in the next election?  Or is it to force Gary Doer to resign?

The reason these questions need to be answered is because the integrity of Elections Manitoba is being questioned by both major opposition parties and many Manitoba voters.   There is a discussion on Curtis Brown’s blog about this issue, with several anonymous posters (2 or 3, from my count) who are disagreeing strongly with Curtis’ views.

I also disagree with Curtis’ opinion, as I believe this situation was not manufactured by the opposition.  While they obviously hope to gain advantage from the issue, that does not preclude other, less partisan, motivations.  The fact that Tories and Liberals are working together on this issue shows that they believe it to go beyond politics.  This situation was caused by the secretive behaviour of both the NDP and Elections Manitoba.  We do not know that there was a conspiracy, collusion, or any wrongdoing by Elections Manitoba; it’s the Chief Elections Officer’s refusal to answer questions that is leading a good number of Manitobans to assume that they are complicit.

It’s true that the opposition parties could gain support by pursuing this issue further; however, there is also the chance that there will be a backlash as voters decide that the opposition is dwelling on the past rather than confronting the issues that matter to Manitobans right now.  In the end, unless Premier Doer calls an inquiry (which is about as likely as the Premier actually committing funds to a better Disraeli/Louise plan, so not likely at all), the only thing that’s clear is that Elections Manitoba will lose its aura of independence and fairness.  The fact that the Premier and his NDP government are willing to sacrifice the reputation of Elections Manitoba is a clear sign of their lack of concern for our electoral system.

In Iran, the Guardian Council knows that the number one threat to its power is any public perception that the government is corrupt.  Voters may very well have forgiven Ahmadinejad’s failed economic policies because he is known as a strong leader who fights against corruption and who stands up to foreign governments.

In Manitoba, we seem to believe that the NDP’s corruption is just politics as usual.  It seems that we are able to withstand the various scandals, whether it’s Crocus, the WRHA, Photo Radar, or the To-Be-Announced Scandal of Fall 2009, as long as we still post modest economic growth.  We seem to believe that it’s okay for Manitoba’s murder rate to skyrocket as long as our cars aren’t getting stolen as often these days.  And we seem to believe that the death of an independent body for overseeing elections is not so bad since we do have that ban on union and corporate donations.

Will someone in the NDP stand up for Elections Manitoba?  Rather than spewing empty words about trust, this government needs to ensure that Elections Manitoba is cleared of any wrongdoing through a public inquiry.  This government needs to protect the integrity of Elections Manitoba and of free and fair elections in our province at all costs.

Again, it’s a slippery slope between an electoral process where no one can have their questions answered and an electoral process where no even knows for sure if the votes were counted properly.  We need to call a stop to this slide, and restore the public confidence in how elections are conducted in Manitoba.  If we can’t do that, there’s nothing to stop us from becoming a place where elections are more theatre than they are democracy.

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So now the province is responding to the surprisingly popular sentiment by the Provincial Tories to ban mobile photo radar.  They are going so far as to have a big press conference to talk about this very subject.

UPDATE: The NDP government refuses to refund money, calling the unjust issuance of tickets a “legal technicality” and saying that it’s the city that didn’t want to give the money back.  I wonder if a class action suit will be coming.

See Winnipeg Free Press

As the loyal opposition for the province of Manitoba, why can’t the Tories bring about this kind of result on the big issues that have been dragging this province down for over a decade?  Where is the Tory campaign to save health care?  Where is the Tory campaign to deal with the death by neglect of aboriginal Manitobans?

The answer: the Tories put politics above all else, and they see photo radar as a way to make the NDP bleed.  So the NDP will respond, and will do their best to marginalize the Tory position, and they’ll probably succeed, as Crocus and the “Vote Tax” issues show.  You see, the NDP puts politics above all else, too, and they’re better at it.

There is only one party that puts principle before politics in Manitoba, and that can be seen time and time again by the work of the Liberal party on all of the issues that matter.  The Liberals aren’t into the “flavour of the month” style of politics demonstrated by the PCs and NDP; that’s why the Liberal platform is the most reasoned and respected of the Manitoba parties.

As more Manitobans compare the fad politics of the other parties with the common sense policies of the Liberals, they’ll see that there’s only one party that puts the task of making Manitoba better first.

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I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately focused on issues occurring in Winnipeg proper, and I’ll be doing more of that soon (more on Plan Winnipeg II, for instance).  But obviously as a candidate for the legislature, I am also engaged in the issues that affect or are due to our provincial government.

It’s harder to write about the problems of our province, mostly because the Doer government is quite adept at spin, whereas our mayor has often had problems with how he is perceived by the general public and the media.  (Translation: Mayor Katz is an easier target.)  But the disagreements that I’ve had with the mayor about Winnipeg’s future are minor compared to the problems I have with the Doer government.

There have been serious errors by the government that have resulted in the deaths of dozens of children under the eyes of Child and Family Services, in the embarrassing health care crisis that still exists a decade after the Premier promised to fix it, and in the still-smouldering wreckage of Crocus.

But what is the overall problem with the NDP government?  What is the bottom line here?  Is it a lack of accountability by ministers and the leaders of crown corporations and agencies such as Hydro, CFS and WCB?  Is it the fact that the Premier uses his leftist ideology for window dressing (i.e., anemic program funding without any results) while he frequently flirts not only with the centre but also with the centre-right?

To me, our nine years of NDP government can be described in one word: mediocrity.

It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.

– Isaac D’israeli  (Father of Benjamin Disraeli, who was not only the Prime Minister of Britain but was also the namesake of Disraeli Street, which in turn became the namesake of the Freeway which the NDP government likes to ignore.)

Here’s a plaque that I keep on my desk:

Manitoba has so much potential, yet the Premier is content with the status quo. There is no aggressive strategy for the growth of green industry in Manitoba, as wind farms are chased out of the province and our noble Manitoba Hydro subsidizes parking for its employees while handing out “How green are we” calendars to everyone else. The rest of the country is looking to innovate and to experiment, while our government places blanket moratoriums on hog barns and school closures without offering any solutions or embracing any opportunities that are available.

To illustrate the mediocrity of the Doer government, I will post about several major provincial issues and explain why the current government is failing us. Up first will be health care, which I will be spending quite a bit of time on in the coming weeks.

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I’m sure I’m not the only person wondering why the Premier would bother parachuting Transcona’s Bill Blaikie into a constituency that already had two potential candidates.

“Blaikie said Doer approached him to run in Elmwood – not the first time the premier has tried to woo Blaikie into provincial politics.”  Winnipeg Free Press, Dec 5, 2008 – http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Blaikie_.html

Of course, there had been several other rumours about the Premier pushing for a transplant for Elmwood:

Past rumour that Scott Smith is moving to Elmwood: http://hacksandwonks.blogspot.com/2008/10/elmwood-gossip-that-wont-go-away.html

Phil Walding, Son of Pawley-government kaibosher Jim Walding, approached to run in Elmwood by-election to succeed Jim Maloway: http://tgcts.blogspot.com/2008/10/september-guest-and-story-review.html

What’s wrong with choosing a candidate from among the people who live in Elmwood?  Why is it that citizens like Darryl Livingstone, who has worked for years with Councillor Lillian Thomas, or Ed Innes, who has been fighting alongside former MLA (and current MP) Jim Maloway on the Disraeli bridge issue, are not considered worthy of the seat?  Why did the Premier decide that he needed to search high and low for a third choice from outside of the area?

I’m not sure why an esteemed Member of Parliament would retire from politics, only to run for a provincial seat in an area he doesn’t live in.  I’ve certainly heard the rumours that Mr Blaikie wants to be the next leader of the Manitoba NDP, and/or that Mr Doer decided that he needed a favour from a big name because the voters of Elmwood have been left feeling neglected after years of, well, neglect.   All I can say is that I do not believe that Premier Doer gave any consideration to the actual needs of Elmwood when he made his choice… he seems to be more focused on what HE needs.

In these days of uncertainty about the motives of some Federal politicians, I think it’s a bad idea for the Premier to be meddling politically in a constituency that already has its local talent.   There are far more important things that our Premier should be spending his time on.

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It’s funny.  Sometimes we’ll hear from the Premier on issues such as the price of admission for indoor soccer, and whether or not an Ikea might be coming to town.  But on the current bad plan for the Disraeli?  Not a word.  Some people say it’s because he doesn’t like the private-public partnership, while others say it’s because the NDP is more interested in making friends in the South of Winnipeg rather than helping out its “safe seats”.  What do I think?  I think that the Premier has no reason to get involved… not yet, anyway.  I don’t think he’s going to bother with Disraeli until the pressure starts building.

Now’s the time to start with that pressure.

The Better Disraeli campaign begins next week.

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