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Posts Tagged ‘jon gerrard’

It is with great vigour, excitement, and simulated frisson that I announce the start of the start of my run for the leadership of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

I am the perfect candidate. Smart, but not too smart. Attractive, but not too attractive. Rich, but not… well, not rich at all, really.

There is no reason why we can’t have a province to be proud of, where solutions are actually based on rational thought and discussion rather than talking points and partisan orthodoxy.

You know, I used to run around saying that the NDP in Manitoba were ethically bankrupt. Now, thanks to so many years of NDP “leadership” I can say that the bankruptcy has spread to cover every aspect of the NDP in our province, like the ever-reaching tentacles of our dark lord Cthulhu.

from http://squeakybonbon.deviantart.com/art/Cthulhu-Girl-2-303981491

So in order to take back our province, I need to raise $2,500 and gather a hundred signatures with ten signatures each from at least six regions.

So I’m basically unstoppable. Like Cthulhu.

from http://cthulhucrochet.blogspot.ca/2010/05/cuddly-cthulhu-with-free-pattern.html

For media inquiries, please email me at wolfrom@wolfrom.ca, fill out the contact form below, or tweet dirty pictures at me.

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No, seriously… what the fuck is wrong with you?

(Oh… apparently this post has foul language. We can deal with my personal issues later, though.)

Backstory: here and here

(good intentions or not, the damage was done and I believe a public apology for the apparent misunderstanding is the right thing to do)

Sexy soundbite:  So the Manitoba Liberals aren’t in the pooper; we’re already flushed halfway down the drainpipe. Nobody’s buying what we’ve been selling, and to be honest I can’t fault anyone for that. We used to rely on the Federal Liberals throwing a tiny life preserver into the toilet for us, but now they’re circling the bowl, too.

It’s our own fault, but that means that we are the ones who can fix it.

I’ve said this before (albeit in a more polite manner), but I’ll say it again, since I’m nothing if not shrill and repetitive:

Conservatives hide their poop.

Dippers hide their poop.

Liberals fling their poop at every other Liberal in the room.

Used to be a clever magnet at AllPosters.comI don’t like being covered in poop; some people do, like those two lovely girls in that video with the cup, but I’m not like that. And I change enough diapers to know that I don’t want that stuff touching my skin (or my eyes, or my mouth, or my vas deferens).

If you are unhappy with something, find constructive solutions. One of my year-and-some son’s favourite books is called Roadwork, and it shows various workers and machinery building a road. Now, if a person wanted to build a road for the Liberals, one that leads from, say, the sewer pipe in the basement up to a place high enough that we wouldn’t need to smell like poop anymore, that person would construct said road, as opposed to tossing hand grenades at the work site and hoping that eventually you’ll get a paved ribbon out of it.

Construction is how you build things. My son has grasped the concept firmly, more firmly than walking on his own or not dropping cheerios down his pants.

But is there a point in doing all this work? Is there any hope for the Liberals?

I think so, but don’t take my word for it. I spend most of my time building a business and writing stories about garden-gnome-on-girl romance. This isn’t my area of expertise.

But I can tell you one thing. There is no party in Manitoba other than the Liberals that I feel I can support in good conscience.

I believe the NDP are corrupt, tired, and ineffective.

I believe the PCs are reactionary, untrustworthy, and ineffective.

I believe the Greens are impractical, inexperienced, and ineffective.

Now the Liberals? Hot dog! They’re intelligent, progressive, and ineffective.

So you can see why I love them so much.

So who is effective, then? Well… in Manitoba, there are plenty of people who are effective, people who know how to get things done and then get those things done, often by asking for advice and help when they need it, and respecting the concept that other people may disagree from time to time. Those people are sometimes called “everyday heroes”, but usually we just call them people who aren’t in politics.

And they aren’t in politics because they enjoy being effective. You don’t get into politics if you like getting things done. Well, you might get into it, but you probably wouldn’t last very long.

When my neighbours and I were trying to save a community centre in Winnipeg, we joined as a team and worked together, focusing primarily on revitalizing the club as opposed to waxing political. We were politically inexperienced and we were motivated by what we felt was the right thing to do, and I still don’t know the political leanings of many of the people I worked alongside.

And when the city shut us down I cried, not because of politics or rivalries, but because I knew that the kids in the neighbourhood were losing something they’d grown proud of.

We weren’t effective in politics (who is, really?) but we were effective in giving kids something to believe in, at least for a little while. If you ask me what part I liked, if it was speaking at city council and doing interviews or if it was working with the kids and building something special, my answer will be pretty clear.

And if I were to do it all a second time, I’d hope to come back into it with enough resources to focus on the kids and stay out of the politics as much as humanly possible. Because like normal people, I enjoy being effective.

Will I return to politics some day? I don’t know. I think about it sometimes, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for it.

I don’t want to pretend that everyone’s uninformed opinion is worth listening to ad nauseum, or that it feels perfectly normal to beg people to vote for you like they’re doing you a favour. If a voter believes a candidate will do the best job, the voter has a duty to vote for that candidate; the candidate’s duty is to do the best job possible.

That’s all there is to it.

So I’ll stay out of the political cage matches for now. If people decide someday that my skills, experience, and ideas are valuable in the public octagon, they know where to find me.

But this isn’t about me. Well, everything’s really about me. But I’ll indulge you for a moment.

The Manitoba Liberals have a fever, and the only prescription is being more selective.

People badmouth the leader publicly? Drop them like a turd, especially if they don’t apologize and particularly if they try to deflect, backpeddle, or act like a misquoted victim (this isn’t a single incident I’m talking about, but a sad series of them over many years). “How’s the leader doing?” “Great.” That’s how it’s done.

Unqualified or unreliable people want to be candidates? Don’t nominate them and accept that you won’t have a full slate. The extra funding from those votes isn’t worth the opportunity cost of damaging the brand by running bad candidates. Bad candidates include anyone who publicly disrespects the leadership, has no intention of campaigning actively, or is running just because they have an axe to grind.

People want you to beg for their vote? Tell them that you’re not in the business of sucking up. I don’t want people to support me or my party as a “favour”. Either we’re the right choice, or we’re not. We’ll do our jobs, and hopefully a handful of voters will do theirs.

I’d rather be a member of a small, principled, and disciplined party that gets a genuine 1% of the vote than a hot mess that gets 5% based on habit or pity.

I’m not sure I’m still a member of the party, actually. I guess that makes it okay for me to mention the Manitoba Liberals and the word ‘poop’ over and over again in a blog post.

About working with the Greens: why not? Is it a merger? No. A federalist Canadian party can’t merge with a Global Greens party; one or the other would die in the process. But if Greens run in Wolseley while Grits run in Fort Rouge? Why not try it? Will the rivers run in red and green blood? Would you even notice the difference in the water?

A while back I crunched the numbers and found that if the Manitoba Liberal Party limited its candidacies to the dozen or so constituencies where it felt it could be competitive, the vote percentage of the party would drop like a stone. We’d go from 7.5% to less than 5%, assuming we could do as well in those ridings.

So a Votepocalypse in traditional terms. That’s true. But how has being traditional been going for us lately?

Manitoba Liberal Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again while flinging poop at the leader’s head.

The only thing we’ll get out of that is Manitobans sitting back and watching the death of the MLP with a bucket of popcorn.
Oh, and more of the same rotten politics in Manitoba.
So smarten up, Liberals. You know you’ve sunk pretty low when a blogger who keeps saying “poop” starts to look like the voice of reason.

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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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The other day, a resident of Elmwood was saying that he was so disappointed in my candidacy that he chose to cancel his Liberal membership.  When I asked this resident about why he was so disappointed with me, he gave me several reasons.  I’d like to respond to his remarks, in case there are other people who are thinking the same things:

  1. You were bashing Elmwood while trying to save Kelvin Community Centre: I’m not sure what I said or did that could be classified as bashing, but I imagine it might be drawing attention to the issues in Elmwood that led me to believe that a local community centre is a necessity for the neighbourhood.  While I understand that some residents don’t want to talk about the negative things that are happening in Elmwood, it doesn’t change the fact that Elmwood has problems with crime, gangs, and at-risk youth.  When I talk about crime and gangs, and about children who do not have enough positive role modeling, I’m not criticizing the thousands of Elmwood residents who make a positive contribution to their community.  All I am doing is responding to problems that are very real, and saying that we require action on the part of residents and government to find positive solutions.
  2. Kelvin Community Centre should have been shut down years ago: I am well aware that there are significant numbers of Elmwood residents who believe that Kelvin was a lost cause and that our community is no worse off without it.  Some residents tell me that they have no problem driving to Bronx Park or Gateway for recreation, while others say that the people of Elmwood don’t deserve a club if they can’t be bothered to volunteer to run it.  The problem with both of these arguments is that they are leaving out the fact that the children who won’t make it out to Bronx Park or Gateway and whose parents are unable or uninterested in volunteering are the ones who are in danger of turning to crime and gangs.  Our personal feelings towards these children or their parents don’t change the fact that without alternatives to petty crime and bad influences, these children will take the wrong path in life.  And these are the children who live in our neighbourhood, so the decisions they make affect all of us.
  3. You had nothing good to say about Bronx Park before, and now you’re grabbing all the attention for it: there were a few occasions when reporters would ask me about the Bronx Park expansion, seeing if I had any criticisms for the project.  It certainly would have made a good story for there to be a dispute between Elmwood and East Kildonan about community centres, but it never did happen.  During the campaign to save Kelvin, we were in regular contact with representatives of Bronx Park and other community centres in Northeast Winnipeg.  The Bronx Park expansion project was not related to Kelvin Community Centre in any way when it was originally promised; it was only after the decision was made to close Kelvin CC that the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres (GCWCC) started to mention Kelvin square footage being “allocated” to Bronx Park.  So there never has been a conflict between Bronx Park and Kelvin, just as there was no conflict between Kelvin and Chalmers CC.  My current duties as Vice President of Bronx Park do involve some work with the Bronx Park campus, but most of my focus is still on the Kelvin site and on programming in general.  The volunteers at Bronx Park and Good Neighbours who worked for years on the expansion project are the ones who deserve our gratitude and applause, and I am pleased to see that there was positive coverage of those volunteers in the media rather than any preoccupation with myself and Kelvin.
  4. You didn’t have a chance against Bill Blaikie, who has done far more than you ever will: when we started our campaign, there were two or three names that had been floated for the NDP candidate, all of whom we felt would be strong challengers.  When the news came in late November that Bill Blaikie was considering the position, we were definitely surprised.  However, the reputation of Bill Blaikie is no reason for me to suspend what I feel are legitimate criticisms of both the NDP government and Mr. Blaikie himself.  I won’t repost those criticisms now (I have mentioned these criticisms on this blog before), but I stand by my belief that the NDP government of Manitoba is not serving the interests of its citizens, and Mr. Blaikie’s willingness to join a government that acts counter to what he espouses to be his ideals opens him up for criticism.  His acceptance of nomination as a MLA in the NDP government means that he is now accountable for the failings of this government.  As far as the argument that Mr. Blaikie has done far more than I ever will, obviously there is no way to prove or disprove this statement as I can’t say what I’ll accomplish in my lifetime as I’ve yet to read my obituary.
  5. Continually spamming our mailboxes: there were definitely some problems with our flyer campaign, and if I could do it again I’d certainly do it quite a bit differently.  The materials and process used in printing were less environmentally friendly than they should have been, and the content of the flyers was specific in its criticisms but not specific enough in communicating my personal ideas and goals.  However, I do stand by my criticisms of the NDP and Mr. Blaikie, and I believe that the record of the NDP is evidence on its own that they do not deserve re-election.
  6. Going on and on about the Disraeli Bridge: my platform was well-rounded in my opinion, but obviously the attention was placed on the upcoming closure of the Disraeli Bridge.  Unfortunately, most voters still aren’t aware of my position on Disraeli, as it was printed in the media and stated by other candidates that all candidates support keeping the bridge open during construction.  It is not feasible to keep the bridge open for the entire construction period as a single-span bridge, as there will need to be some periods of closure.  That is why I have recommended that construction of a temporary span to twin the Louise Bridge before Disraeli construction begins.   This, along with some traffic routing changes, would relieve congestion during the periods of closure which are necessary to do the job properly.
  7. Too many phone calls: to this day, I am still not sure how many phone calls went out.  I personally recommended against the recorded messages, but because a by-election campaign is not a one-person show, I deferred to other opinions.  We chose to have one initial phone blast informing voters that the by-election had been called and a phone blast for Election Day.  A Disraeli-themed phone blast allegedly occurred during the middle of the campaign which some voters attributed to me, but which did not come from my campaign.  We also employed a professional phone bank to poll voters and to remind voters on Election Day, but there were some technical issues that resulted in multiple calls to voters even after they had voted.  In my opinion, the phoning was excessive and the errors were unacceptable.  I do know that the NDP and PC parties also conducted extensive phone campaigns, but if I could do it all over again, I would consider not using the phone at all.
  8. You went to the NDP first for the nomination and they turned you down: this rumour is not only untrue, it’s actually a reversal of the truth.  I was approached by members of two other political parties, one of which was the NDP.  Several NDP members asked me to seek the nomination, but I was never approached by any official representatives of the Doer government or the NDP constituency association in Elmwood.  I chose the Manitoba Liberal Party because I felt that it was the party which best shared my beliefs, and because Dr. Gerrard is a respected and honourable person who has always worked for all Manitobans.  I did not choose the NDP, and that is because I feel that the NDP has been irresponsible and negligent in its governance, and that Premier Doer and his cabinet should be held accountable for many wrongs over the past decade.  In hindsight, I do not know if I could have won the NDP nomination, because I don’t know when Bill Blaikie decided to run.  He didn’t contact NDP members about the possibility until long after I was already the Liberal candidate, and while I don’t know if things would have gone differently had I been seeking the NDP nomination, to presume that it would have affected his decision would be foolhardy on my part.

There were definitely things I could have done better as a Liberal candidate, and there were things that I could have done better in my work with Kelvin and Bronx Park.  We all make mistakes, and what distinguishes success from failure is whether we learn from those mistakes.  Was I the best candidate for the Liberal party in the Elmwood By-Election?  Probably not.  I’m sure there’s someone out there who is more qualified, who has campaign experience, and who has a stronger record for results.  It’s important for Liberal members to work to find that better candidate, and if that person is not available, to work with the candidate you do have to compensate for the weaknesses and amplify their good qualities.

The only way to provide an alternative to the corruption of the NDP government is to win campaigns on the ground, and that can only happen if we all work together.

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Manitoba’s NDP government has actually reached the point of no return for a government, as its corruption becomes more than just a whispered rumour and becomes daily headlines in the newspapers.  If it were a TV show, they’d say this government has jumped the shark.

But as a member of the Manitoba Liberal Party, you’d expect me to say that… that’s what politics is all about, right?  Well, to show that this is more than just an attempt to boost the Liberals, I’ll compare the NDP to the Tories in our Legislature.

Now I’m not a fan of the Tories as a political party, but I have many friends who are affiliated with the PCs, and I know that at their heart the PC members truly are working for what they believe is the best plan for Manitoba.  Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong, but at least they’re pretty honest about what they believe.

To compare the two parties, I’ll use the latest example: booster seats.  There are two common beliefs as far as booster seats are concerned: a) booster seats are important, so they should be mandatory, and b) the government shouldn’t tell me what to do.  Belief ‘b’ is used for many other issues, and does not argue that booster seats are stupid or ineffective.

So the NDP has three options when dealing with a private member’s bill on mandating booster seats to the limit agreed upon by the consensus of medical and safety experts and a majority of jurisdictions:

  1. Support the bill, whether in its current form or in a modified form if technical fault is found in the current wording.
  2. Declare themselves the New Libertarian Party and say that it’s none of the government’s business.  This is almost what they are saying with their “education is better than legislation” concept.  Too bad they don’t feel that way about allowing non-unionized business to compete equally with unionized business.
  3. Demonstrate just how out of touch they are with reality by using debate of the bill to display that they can’t accept a good idea if it didn’t come from Mr. Doer.

Officially, the NDP went with #2 when speaking to the press, but in the legislature, when they were actually speaking from the heart (or the spleen?), they went with #3.  Here are some choice selections from Hansard:

Well, once again, I’m going to stand in this House and claim myself an expert on this particular issue…

Southdale MLA Erin Selby, after the bill was introduced by a medical doctor.

I do think it’s important for parents to understand the importance of booster seats and, and I, I have sort of made it my business to talk to parents about that when I see sometimes the odd person who has a three-year-old or a four-year-old not in a booster seat because, of course, Manitoba law recognizes that that is too small. I know there’s some cases where kids are exceptionally tall or exceptionally heavy and, and really don’t fit the booster seat any longer but in most cases until you’re five years old or if you’re kind of on the skinny side, like my three girls are, you might be closer to seven and a half, eight years old before you reach that 50 pound mark and, and should really be safely in the, in the shoulder strap.

Selby again, claiming an expert opinion that is counter apparently to every safety group on the planet Earth.

If you legislate that people have to be 4.9 feet before they can get out of a booster seat, there may be a few members in this House who are going to have to back into a booster seat. We’ll see about that.

Selby yet again, either as an attempt at humour or admitting that she did not actually pay attention to the stipulations of weight and age in the bill.

Once they reach 50 pounds they’re probably safe to put the car strap over their shoulder as well…

Selby re-iterating that if, as an expert, she says something, it must be true even if it flies in the face of all evidence and global consensus.

The other thing, too, is that we have to look at is that we are encouraging people to come to Manitoba, and we’ve had phenomenal growth in our population, and for immigant–immigrant populations, this can become one of those extra costs to moving into Manitoba.

Kirkfield Park MLA Sharon Blady, showing concern that Manitoba’s population will plummet as people move to somewhere with less safety legislation.  Somalia, perhaps?

I think we’re at a point now, maybe in light of what’s happened economically with the likes of General Motors, maybe now that the federal government owns a share, we can start having a say in car design, and, you know, maybe we, as the general populace, as the owners, as the shareholders in an automotive company, maybe we could all, you know, think about, as shareholders, what we’d like to see, and maybe integrated car seats that do factor in longer periods of time is the way to go. But then again I’d also, you know, wonder why GM got rid of the EVs, because–but, then again, that’s a whole other issue and I’ll save that to the documentary film makers to discuss who killed the electric car.

Blady again, hoping that futuristic cars will someday solve a problem that already has a ready solution.

So we need to be safer how we drive anyways. It doesn’t matter if your child is in the best car seat in the world and they’re in there until they’re twelve and a half, if you’re driving around like a maniac talking on your cellphone and running through radars, you know, photo radars, it really doesn’t matter. You know, again, you can be in the most industrial designed SUV and have your child in a car seat, but if you’re not driving prudently, then you’re putting your child’s life at risk in a way that no car seat will ever compensate for.

Blady once more.  Having just stated that not everything should be legislated, Blady decided to mention how effective legislation is when it comes to safety issues.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that our government has taken the steps necessary to provide for the injury prevention of our children, and I think, with respect to this particular legislation, we have taken the steps necessary already, whether it be in the farm safety walkabout program, the Safe Play Area grants, the bicycle helmet program that we provide to low-income families–or free to those families–and, of course, to other Manitobans, as well, but we have taken many steps to provide for the safety of our– [time expired]

Transcona MLA Daryl Reid, stating that bicycle helmets and farm safety have removed the need for booster seat legislation.

And I think none of us in this House would want to be responsible for telling families to do something that could then endanger their children.

Fort Rouge MLA Jennifer Howard, taking the brave step of saying that it’s better to place 60 lb children into restraints designed for 165 lb men than to worry about parents learning to use a booster seat (because learning to use a car seat for the first 3-4 years of their child’s life was an impossible task).

If I didn’t have nieces and nephews and a toddler at home, I’d find this NDP attempt at absurdist comedy quite entertaining.

Now let’s contrast the ridiculous comments of these NDP members with the comments from PC MLA for Athur-Virden, Larry Maguire:

The situation in Manitoba is such, I think, that the bill that’s been brought is very reasonable. It is certainly parallel to what’s been happening in British Columbia, Newfoundland, P.E.I. and New Brunswick, a number of other provinces, including Ontario and Québec, where children are either eight or nine years old. They’re in that size range of the 145 centimetres, about four foot nine, as the member from Southdale has indicated, as well as from 80 pounds in weight, Mr. Speaker.

[…]

And so I, I believe that this is a good bill. I believe that the–that this is something that I would certainly support. I believe that the situation that we’ve got in, in Manitoba today should–we should have unanimous support for this kind of a bill in the House.

[…]

Perhaps they could even be cognizant of bringing a program in to deal with support for booster seats in Manitoba of this nature, Mr. Speaker. When you’re looking at–this is a government that brought in a, a program for purchasing hybrid vehicles, if you would–dollars, rebates, back to people that bought hybrid vehicles. I mean, the cost of a booster seat is nowhere near the, the rebate on a hybrid vehicle. They’ve got support for bicycle helmets in the province and, and while bicycle helmets may not be of the same cost, they sometimes can be actually more than a booster seat as well.So, if we really were supportive of these kinds of things, they could take some of the money that they’re wasting on the $640 million that will be lost by building the west-side line, and it would only be a very, very fraction amount needed to support, to support the addition of booster seats in the province of Manitoba, Mr. Speaker.

Now that’s a reasoned response from a member who has obviously taken the time to study the issue, who has met with a safety group to discuss this issue, and who was willing to compliment Dr. Gerrard on a bill that makes sense.

Manitobans deserve better than the political nonsense that NDP MLAs are spouting in the Legislature.  As Bill Maher discovered while speaking to Mark Pryor, senator from Arkansas, “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the senate, though”. I do, however, expect better from our MLAs.

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The NDP has decided that Dr. Gerrard’s private member’s bill for mandatory booster seats for children under 8 years old is not worth a second reading.  Despite the fact that there is no dispute about the necessity of booster seats for all children under 80 lbs and less than 5 feet tall, the NDP government has decided that booster seats are a lifestyle choice.

We believe in education instead of legislation.

Transportation Minister Ron Lemieux  (Winnipeg Free Press, Jun 2, 2009)

Lemieux’s reasoning is that a voluntary campaign will gradually increase the use of booster seats, since bike helmets have become more commonplace among children.

First of all, I personally believe that bike helmets should be mandatory for children, as they should be for skateboarding, skiing/snowboarding, and equestrian activities.  Brain injury is very likely to result from a serious head-first fall if a helmet is not worn.  If the concern is cost, the government could look at various incentives to make the purchase easier.

But more importantly, there are two very big reasons why it is ridiculous to compare bike helmet use to booster seat use:

  1. Most cycling accidents resulting in death or serious injury are on higher speed thoroughfares, as opposed to residential streets and sidewalks.  These accidents usually involve adult cyclists, as children are less likely to be found riding bikes on high-speed routes.  The chance of a child riding a bike on a busy street without a helmet is much, much smaller than the chance of a child sitting in a car without a booster seat.  That would be true even without a bike helmet education campaign.  There are far more car accidents involving children than bike accidents on high-speed streets, and those car accidents have led to child deaths.
  2. Bike helmets are much better known to the public than booster seats, and the rules of use are easy to understand: everyone should wear a bike helmet.  Adults make their own decisions on when to wear their bike helmet, but children should always be told to wear theirs.  Booster seats are not only less visible (even if an education campaign was launched, they still won’t be outside where everyone will notice them), and they are also less understood.  How many parents know when a booster seat should be used?  How many parents are aware of the fact that seatbelts are designed for a 165 lb male, and that a 60 lb child cannot handle the pressure caused by the seatbelt in a crash?  How many parents have heard that in Saskatchewan, children four to eight years old strapped into adult seat belts are 33 times more likely to be injured or killed than children in child restraints?

My opinion is that the NDP government knows full well that booster seats are a more important safety requirement than bike helmets, and that mandatory booster seats will save lives.  I would think it’s pretty hard to find a politician in North America who would oppose such a bill, which is why booster seats are mandatory in every province except Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and are also becoming mandatory in the large majority of US states, including Texas, where legislation similar to Dr. Gerrard’s will take effect on September 1st, 2009.  Our neighbours in North Dakota currently require mandatory booster seats for children under the age of 7, but use the same height and weight minimums for adult seat belt use.

So why is the NDP wanting to be in last place for legislation that saves lives?  The only answer I can think of was also mentioned in the Winnipeg Free Press:

A spokesman for the Manitoba Car Seat Coalition said it will lobby the NDP to change their minds.

And they may do that. The Doer government has a history of reworking opposition private member’s bills into their own legislation.

Winnipeg Free Press, Jun 3, 2009

Only time will tell if the NDP will introduce legislation in the fall that will include mandatory booster seats.  If they do, we can expect to wait even longer before such a law will be passed and take effect.  Like other initiatives the NDP has sat on until they could introduce it themselves, mandatory booster seats will have to wait until Premier Doer decides that it’s the right time politically to protect the lives of Manitobans.

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Dr. Gerrard held a press conference Thursday at HSC where he spoke about two very important topics:

1. The NDP government needs to move away from a global, trickle-down budget and use a budget based on actual services delivered.

2. The NDP government needs to spend more money on Type 2 diabetes prevention, as the human and financial cost is staggering and preventable.

Here is some news coverage on the conference:

Diabetes an epidemic that needs to be addressed: Liberals (Jen Skerritt, Winnipeg Free Press)

Manitoba Liberal leader calling for changes in health-care funding (CBC News)

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