Posts Tagged ‘hugh mcfadyen’

Maybe I can’t stay out of it. I have a big mouth, you see…

Lately the Manitoba Liberals have entered another exciting backstabbing phase, much like the last season of treachery that took place during the Elmwood By-Election and 2009 AGM. (Notice how I avoided “season of treason”? You’re welcome.)

One of the best things about Liberals is that we tend to be independent thinkers. That often results in the best ideas coming from the Liberals.

One of the worst things about Liberals is that we tend to be independent thinkers. That often results in people arguing in public and creating an impression that we can’t get alone with one another.

The NDP is successful because they know how to keep control. There are people in charge, and everyone else does what they’re told. That is why NDP policy conventions result in very little actual policy, since the real policies are decided by a small group of people beforehand and the less important people (known in the NDP charter as “members”) are generally ignored.

The Conservatives work in a slightly different way, but the result is the same. A small inner circle makes the calls, and everyone else follows orders. I’d guess around three of four people in Manitoba actually have any inkling as to whether or not Hugh is planning on privatizing Hydro; one of them may be Hugh, but I’m not sure on that.

I like that Liberals aren’t like this, that when you ask a Liberal to do something, they’re just as likely to argue with you about it than to just go and get it done. But this makes us bad at elections, since elections are about following a singular vision from start to finish while getting as many party volunteers to help out as possible.

Now we have a situation where we are fighting an election against two other major parties. One is tired and thinks “status quo” is working just fine for our sky-high crime rate and continued health care woes. The other is in my opinion about as trustworthy as the male enhancement e-mails I keep receiving for some odd and confidence-busting reason. But instead of seizing on opportunity, there are a good number of Liberals, some quite prominent, doing their best to mess up the chance to win new seats.

I understand that Anita Neville and friends are upset that one-time Liberal Gord Steeves decided to run for the Conservatives in Seine River. But strategically it makes no sense to support the NDP and a health minister who should have resigned years ago for her apparent indifference to a man’s death at HSC, no matter how personally offended they are by Mr. Steeves. (These endorsements are also an insult to the Liberal candidate for Seine River, Troy Osiname.) This is especially ridiculous considering that Gord Steeves has not changed; he is the same person he was five or ten years ago. Being angry at Gord Steeves switching sides due to opportunism is about as sensible as shaking your fist at the sun for setting at dusk, or cursing out your unneutered dog for humping your leg while you’re trying to watch The Amazing Race. It’s just the way things are. Anyone who believes that Gord Steeves was a Liberal due to deep ideological conviction must also believe that Wendy’s Baconator was created as a cure for the obesity epidemic.

Another story is the racial slurs being tossed around about Joe Chan in Logan. Now it’s not news to many political types that the NDP doesn’t like Joe, since Joe decided to exhibit some of that independent thinking that’s not well-received in orange-and-green-town. I don’t believe that the NDP orchestrated the letter, and I doubt that many people on the Liberal side believe that, either. For one thing, it doesn’t help the NDP, but it probably doesn’t do much for the Liberals, either. I think it just makes more people stay home on Election Day, and almost as importantly, makes potential volunteers for all parties wary of getting involved in politics.

For a party that the NDP and Conservatives love to dismiss, the Liberals are certainly getting some attention. I just wish the attention was a little more productive.

I’ve been mostly absent for much of the campaign due not just to being lazy and selfish, but for other reasons involving my work and personal life. But I’m helping out as much as I can now, working to make sure that the Liberal Voice is not silenced in this province. Because if we don’t have Liberals in Manitoba, we’re left with two parties that are practically allergic to critical thinking and new ideas. I don’t think there’s anything good about that.

There is an antique store that always has “close out” signs, as though he’s trying to clear out stock because he’s shutting down. Of course, this has been going on since the last millennium. I may or may not post occasional items on this blog between now and the year 3000.

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More on this issue: Jim Cotton Take III, The Black Rod, My Left Nut, A City Trapped by Its Past, Tom Brodbeck, Never Eat Yellow Snow, Jon Gerrard, PolicyFrog

From PC Manitoba Leader Hugh McFadyen: “We’ve had a much stronger response on this issue than just about any other one in my three years as leader. This one takes the cake in terms of the number of people contacting us. We were getting hundreds of emails even before we launched the petition.”  (Winnipeg Free Press – May 11th, 2009)

Now I don’t doubt that Mr. McFadyen’s office is getting the highest number of feedback from voters on this issue.  That doesn’t make me feel any better.

People are dying in our hospital system and neither the bloated bureaucracy nor the NDP government are working on anything that will help to solve this crisis.  We have children who are losing their lives as a result of serious problems in northern communities involving social services and infrastructure, with nothing by way of an action plan from the Premier.  And we have an addiction to Federal Transfer payments at a time when our benefactor in Ottawa is running into record deficits, yet there is no ambition from the NDP to reduce the need for transfers or even to pay down our provincial debt.

So what does it take to have people phoning their politicians or signing online petitions or joining various Facebook groups?  Why, photo radar, of course.

I don’t believe it’s a political issue with any legs, and I’d like to see it resolved as soon as possible so that we can deal with some of the things that should be big issues but apparently just aren’t.  So I’ve come up with the same solution that I’m sure most people have already figured out for themselves, but which seems to escape both the Tories and the NDP.

I received a ticket myself on Lagimodière; there were not only no workers, but no equipment or barricades on the road, and I don’t even recall seeing a reduced speed limit sign.  That is unjust, and that’s why I decided to fight the ticket.  However, I have relatives who work on the highways, so I don’t like this idea of “no ticket when there are no workers” blanket for speeding in construction zones.

How do you know when there is a worker present?  If you are driving along five kilometres of construction, there are going to be large stretches where there are no workers, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any workers at all.

With every issue of fairness, there are varying shades of “fair”.  I did not feel it was fair for me to pay a ticket because there was no clear indication that it was a construction zone, which is why I didn’t automatically slow down as I would do in an actual construction zone.  It felt to me that the photo radar ticket violated the spirit of the law, as I knew that it was penalizing people who would have slowed down had they been in an actual construction zone.  But there are also people out there who would have sped through no matter what the signage, and there are also a number of people who would have sped through even with workers present.

The problem with saying that there needs to be workers present is that it becomes the responsibility of the driver to determine when there are workers present.  In addition, if two lanes are reduced to one, workers or no workers there should still be a reduction in speed.  Having a series of barricades along a road, along with other hazards inherent to a work site, means that speed should be reduced.  The problem with Lagimodière Blvd was that both lanes were open, there were no workers, the barricades were completely off of the lanes, and no equipment was visible at the site.  A construction zone speeding ticket is a violation of the spirit of the law, so in that case an override by the government is appropriate.

What we need is an amended law that makes it clear what a construction zone is and forbids speeding within that construction zone.  In my opinion (common sense as opposed to actually digging out the laws), a construction zone is any of the following:

  1. A stretch of road is a construction zone where there are workers present; or
  2. A stretch of road is a construction zone for the entire length of time that obstructions related to construction (such as barriers or pylons) are in place on the roadway, even if no workers are present; or
  3. A stretch of road is a construction zone for the entire length of time that the road surface or lane structure are compromised or temporarily altered by the ongoing construction process, whether or not there are workers or barricades present.

(There may also be a need to separate construction zones into two different grades, where any zone with workers present will have a lower speed limit and higher fines for speeding, but I’m not sure that would be an improvement.)

When a stretch of road meets one or more of these criteria, it is then appropriate to have prominent signage displayed (preferably with flashing lights) to denote that it is a construction zone and that speed much be reduced.  If a stretch of road had workers who have left for the day and no obstructions or compromised road surfaces or laneways, the signage should be removed until the workers return to the site.

Why is that important?  Because it’s a contract between construction crews and motorists, and if the motorist keeps seeing “reduced speed” construction zones that don’t have workers, obstructions, etc., there is an increased chance that the motorist will defy the contract and speed through.  By taking the time to mark construction zones fairly, any excuse for speeding through a construction zone is removed.

If a ticket was issued when an area marked as a “construction zone” did not meet the three criteria when the alleged offense took place, the ticket should be made invalid.  However, there should not be a blanket ban on tickets for speeding when “no workers are present”, because that’s the kind of ban that will cost lives.  And even though the fines are the issue that is making people angry enough to speak up, it’s the lives of construction workers and motorists that are more important in the end.

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The Elmwood by-election has come and gone now, and it was certainly an interesting occasion.  We ran a strong campaign in Elmwood, where we did some things well and some things not as well.  The end results were a little embarrassing for everyone, as turnout dropped and the number of registered voters took a dive.

I haven’t been keeping up with the chatter on the blogs or in the papers, but I can guess that there are a good number of people who are relishing that the Liberal vote share did not increase as much as some people, including myself, had hoped.  I know that there is one loud individual (“fanman”) who has always had a problem with me (even though I don’t think I’ve ever met him and he refuses to ever actually discuss how I’ve wronged him) who posts on several sites about how annoying and stupid I am, and then usually makes a mention of the horrible work I did trying to save the Kelvin Community Centre.  My best guess is that he’s one of the people who let Kelvin decline due to their own petty squabbles, and doesn’t appreciate that our group of volunteers brought the community together to improve the club.  It’s funny that so many people have an opinion about politics and especially politicians, but never seem to show up when it’s time to work on real issues.

Anyway… here are the conclusions I’ve reached based on the results:

1. Turnout was an all-time low and that means quite a bit. The poor turnout was partly due to weather but was also the result of undecideds who never came up with a final decision.  Our polling indicated that the vast majority of voters were still very undecided in the last days.  In addition, the majority of our supporters never made it to the polls at all.  One of the problems with an area that has been taken for granted by politicians for so long is that most residents haven’t felt for years that their vote mattered.  We had dozens of people on election day who said that they just weren’t going to come out, because “one vote doesn’t matter”.  We’ll need to work hard to change that perception.

2. The NDP and Tories took this by-election seriously. On the one hand, it’s disappointing to have been outnumbered on election day by NDP and Tory campaign workers, but it’s nice to see people paying attention to Elmwood, if only for just a week or so.  What was interesting was the sight of NDP and Tory cabinet ministers (and Hugh McFadyen himself) walking the streets knocking on the doors of their supporters, along with scores of their legislative staff.  Apparently Mr. Doer also lent his voice to the effort.  If only those two parties had put one percent of that effort into any of the issues affecting Elmwood before the last week of the by-election.  I guess we’ll see how many of them stick around to work with the community on the issues that matter to residents.

3. Voters need more time to get to know me. I was surprised to hear that some voters didn’t know that I am raising my family in Elmwood, and even the media are apparently unsure of what I do for a living.  There’s also some talk that my work to better the community seems to indicate that I don’t like the community, which doesn’t make any sense since my wife and I choose to live in this community.  It also seems that my name is recognized in some parts of the constituency, but I’m pretty new in much of the north.  It’s going to take some time for people to learn who I am and what I stand for.

4. The messages were confusing. Only one candidate had actual step-by-step plans to deal with the major issues affecting Elmwood, but the information was lost in a flurry of half-truths and flip-flops from other campaigns.  We tried to get the message out at the door and with flyers, but it wasn’t enough this time.  We have some ideas on how to improve our communication to Elmwood voters, so we should see some strong improvements there.

We had some great successes, and we certainly had our share of challenges.  We lost a campaign team member to a personal emergency, and my basement flooded the day before Election Day.  I was called more than my share of bad names: “fat s***” (from the NDP campaign team), “traitor” (from the Greens), “a**hole” (from the president of a nearby Liberal constituency), and of course, my personal favourite was “f***ing Liberal c***sucker” (an irate voter who apparently doesn’t like Liberals).  We called for a debate in week two of the campaign, but the news media didn’t take the story until the Tories called for one two weeks later.  Of course, Mr. Blaikie refused to attend.  We scheduled a press conference for 1pm, and the NDP had one at 11am on the same topic.  We scheduled another one for 11am, and the Tories decided on 10:45am for theirs.

It’s hard not to take some of the things that happened personally.  Egos are bruised when people shake your hand and say they’ll vote for you but then don’t end up voting at all.  But egos aren’t what matter here in Elmwood.  I’m not doing this for my ego, I’m doing this because Manitobans deserve better.  Manitobans deserve a government that doesn’t try to cover up the deaths of its own citizens due to failed policies.  They deserve a government that doesn’t hide its billion-dollar debt.  They deserve a government that doesn’t take its citizens for granted.

The Manitoba Liberal Party is gaining ground in Elmwood and in other parts of our province.  What the NDP don’t want you to know is that they lost 1500 votes from last time, even with a “star candidate”.  What the Tories don’t want you to know is that their supporters are starting to realize that the Liberals actually work to represent all Manitobans, including conservatives.

What I want you to know is that we have been building our Liberal machine over the past six months.  We have a strong team in Elmwood and in a growing number of other constituencies, and we’ll be working together over the next two and a half years to make sure that our message of working for all Manitobans is known to every voter.  We will take the lessons we’ve learned from Elmwood and we will put them to use in the rest of the province.  You will be seeing more Liberals on the streets, knocking on doors, working in our communities, and standing up for the rights of all Manitobans.  And yes, you’ll be seeing more of me (sorry, “fanman”).

The NDP and Tories pulled their votes in this by-election, and they did it well, emptying the Manitoba legislature in the process.  But in the next general election, they’ll be fighting dozens of strong Liberal campaigns.  And they’ll be fighting against a growing tide of Manitobans who realize that they haven’t been getting their money’s worth from those two parties.  It’s time for Manitoba to step out of this past life made up of bickering parties who only represent some of the people.  It’s time for all of us to demand better.

I’ll be taking the next few days off from politics.  I’ll still be working on some important issues, such as the new Kelvin facilities and the Disraeli plan, but I do hope to spend some time catching up on my personal life.  I’ve missed out on important time with my daughter, such as her first ride on her new tricycle, so I want to make sure I’m there for her first steps.

I’ve learned many things from this campaign, and I’ve received advice from hundreds of people.  So what I’ve done is cobbled together everyone’s advice from this campaign to determine my next step.  And the final message that I’m taking away from this is as follows: “There’s more work to do but there will be time to do it.  So for today, take a break and spend some time with your family, you f***ing Liberal c***sucker!”

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