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Posts Tagged ‘manitoba ndp’

I won’t comment on whether or not it’s appropriate for the Premier and Finance Minister to be spending so much time in a hot tub even as they expect their cabinet ministers to take a pay cut.  What I will say is that it’s truly remarkable how often the NDP government finds itself unexpectedly in years past.  It seems like a surreal concept at first… I mean, a hot tub that functions at a time machine… but how else can you explain NDP policies?

Now, unlike the movie, they’re not always transported back to 1986, as that year is usually reserved for the NDP approach to business regulations.  Today’s episode (#354) has Rosann Wowchuk planted firmly in 2008.  The rest of humanity lives on in 2010, looking for signs of recovery and debating how to pay back the deficits from the past two years.  Meanwhile, the NDP are looking full speed behind, looking at changing their own balanced budget law so that they can continue to run deficits until 2014 after spending all of 2009 bragging about how well the Manitoba economy has been doing.  Here’s how I see it: Either Manitoba fared well, and we should have a shorter period of deficit than everyone else (or none at all), or Manitoba fared just as badly as the rest of the country and four straight years of deficit is justified.  It can’t be both things; if the NDP is trying to claim that it is both things, there is only one explanation: mismanagement of public money.

Cherenkov has a good post, Budget analysis: ouch, talking about the numbers, and Curtis has some good points about the idea of fake frugality (Frugality Is Dead: Long Live Frugality).  And Dr. Gerrard also shows the NDP overspending with his post, NDP budget: For ten years the NDP have shown poor budgeting and poor expenditure management.

To me, the most concerning aspect of this budget is what it means for 2014.  As Cherenkov points out, the NDP always misses the mark in its planning, spending more than it originally set out to do.  As well, the Rainy Day Fund is likely to disappear altogether, as the government’s initial estimate is that the fund will be brought down from $800 million to $200 million; we’re already used to overly optimistic estimates from this government during easier times.

How does the Manitoba government plan on balancing the books in 2014?  More Rainy Day transfers from an emptying account?  More service fees?  A moratorium on paying for the City of Winnipeg’s pet project of the month?  The truth is, there is no plan.  None at all…

No, wait… that’s not fair…

The plan is: keep treading water until November 2011. Once the election hangover has passed, the NDP will come up with something to tell Manitobans, be it new taxes, program cuts, or perhaps a new venture involving the marketing of Manitoban’s organs to the Chinese government.  It’s surprising that there are no Toga parties in the NDP offices at the Legislature considering the dorm-room mentality.  Why study the budget today, when you can have fun and spend?  We won’t need to do any work until 2012… woo-hoo!

Ah… so there’s that hot tub again… it’s not always for time travel.  Sometimes it’s just for having a good time.


“Party on, NDP!”

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Q: What do pet adoption rates tell us about our economy?

A: It tells us quite a bit more than we get from stats on consumer spending or consumer confidence.

If I were to buy a TV or even a car, it could be for one of two reasons:
a.    I need a TV/Car
b.    Wouldn’t it be cool to have the latest/fanciest TV/Car?  I’m going to buy one!

You could argue that people who NEED an item would not be buying the newest or best example of that item, but that’s not always true.  When we needed a car because the last one was attacked by a falling tree, we didn’t buy the cheapest used one available; we found a more expensive one, because it had the features that we had been without with the last car.  Yes, we have to pay every month for it, but we decided that we wanted a safe car to take our daughter places that aren’t particularly bus-accessible (or for when we have a case of the lazies).  So we would have bought some kind of new or almost-new car, and we didn’t feel that economic circumstances could bring us to a different result.

When we finally buy a new TV (we’ve lost three in the past year, and have been taking other people’s TVs to our palliative care facility), it won’t be the cheapest; it’ll be the one that best fits in our living room (probably 32 or 36 inches).   And with the TV, we’ll buy it once, and that’ll be it.  We won’t be financing it or leasing it, so we don’t need to worry if we’ll have money to make payments in three months.

Pet adoption is a different story.  Adopting a pet is a commitment to take responsibility for another life.  If money is tight, or a family is worried about keeping their jobs, adopting a pet will seem like a luxury they can’t afford.  At least that’s my assumption, since pet shelters are overflowing with animals, and adoptions are nowhere near keeping pace.

When I read in the paper that consumer confidence is up or that Christmas retail sales are at a good level, it doesn’t say nearly as much as when I hear that many pet shelters can’t take any new animals and that foster families are maxed out.  That information, coupled with the personal stories of bankruptcy that are becoming far more common, tells me that we’re still in the middle of this economic downturn.  And Manitoba has not escaped the effects; we’re just seeing them happen in slow motion compared to our friends in other provinces, and as transfer payments are slashed, it’ll take us longer than our neighbours to recover.

And following that uplifting anecdote…

Q: Why is downtown parking becoming the polarizing debate of our time?

A: People seem to have deluded themselves into thinking that parking is the core issue of downtown revitalization.

I know that parking is an important part of the character of our downtown, and I don’t like staring at surface parking lots or the WRHA’s tribute to urban decline on Main Street.  But realistically, I know that the city will continue to worship parking, just as I do between Christmas and Easter, and fighting downtown parking is like chaining yourself to the McDonalds at the Louvre to protest the lack of McRibs while museum staff is busy painting a bra onto the Venus de Milo.

There are two issues in downtown that turn parking into a boneless pork patty: historic preservation and residential growth.  I agree that surface lots don’t disappear when parkades are built, particularly when surface lots are left intact while adjacent historic buildings are torn down to make space for new parking; I know many people who will gladly exchange a bus pass for a parking spot if supply outstrips demand and prices start to drop.  Personally, I like the idea of incentives for surface lot redemption, to be followed after several years by a surface parking levy to finance further incentives.  In addition, it should be made impossible for ANY structurally sound building to be replaced with a parking structure or surface lot as long as there are existing surface lots on the same block.

But that doesn’t mean that parkades should be banned, or that all surface lot owners should have to pay five times the taxes because “there ought to be a building there”.  If they want to put a parkade in the East Exchange, I wouldn’t stand in their way if:
a.    No existing buildings are demolished
b.    Street-level commercial space is incorporated into the parkade
c.    The architectural design of the parkade is deemed acceptable by city council

Obviously, in a perfect world, I would put far stricter requirements on the construction of parkades in the Exchange District; one item I’d love to add is that construction materials for the building façade should come from reclaimed brick, but I don’t think that’s realistic in our current political environment.  As with everything else, city council will not back the Exchange District 100% until they are utterly convinced of just how valuable the area is.  I find it strange that the East Side of Lake Winnipeg is considered UNESCO-worthy by the province, but the Exchange District is left to be demolished one building at a time.

Why is it that a provincial park around Fisher Bay is touted as being worth $38 million, while the Exchange District, a national historic site, is completely ignored?  Do our governments have no concept of how much that neighbourhood is worth, or how much potential it has?  In the words of Councillor O’Shaughnessy: “The debate is getting lower and lower and lower. Please don’t compare this building or even our whole exchange district with the walled city of Quebec.”   Because the Exchange District will have no historical value no matter how old it gets,  we should replace it with parkades while financing is cheap.

And lastly…

Q: Why do NDP apologists feel the need to defend every action by every member of the Manitoba government?

A: Because it seems to work?  Does it?

I understand the idea of supporting your party; I even launched an incredibly successful fundraising campaign for the Manitoba Liberals: Help Block Out PC Websites! (as of today, only 6% behind the Progressive Conservative Fundraising Campaign!)

But sometimes, the men and women of your political party make mistakes.  I won’t list any Liberal mistakes, but I will admit (shockingly) that mistakes have been made.  If bloggers such as Never Eat Yellow Snow and Just Damn Stupid were to focus on defending more defensible actions on the part of the NDP, wouldn’t people be more convinced that their points of view have merit?

Note: I do apologize if any of my past actions mixed with this post now warrant a BlockReganHypocrisy.ca.

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A strange fundraising campaign has been launched by the Manitoba PC Party.  They are asking people to donate $10 for a “virtual cell phone” that will cover up part of a photo from Nov 2008 (a year ago) of Deputy Premier Rosann Wowchuk using her cell phone while driving, a shocking and rather stale example of NDP hypocrisy.

So of course, I needed to get a piece of that action.  I’ll get into that later…

I just don’t understand how these antics demonstrate that the Progressive Conservatives are ready to assume leadership of this province.  Their Chicken Wing Party of Manitoba of 2008 still has a Facebook page, and one can only hope that during its active phase it had more than the 30 members it has today.

Curtis has an unusual response to the latest PC campaign, while Cherenkov says what I think most of us are thinking.  So what would I have done better?  That’s a difficult question.  I can certainly understand the frustration that the PC party is feeling; as a Liberal, I’m frustrated, too.  The NDP have been responsible for some very serious scandals over the past decade, including mistakes that have cost lives, as well as an ongoing matter with Manitoba Hydro that could result in billions of dollars being lost.  But at the end of the day, many Manitobans are still supporting the NDP party.

I have a few ideas I’m working on for how to get Manitobans to start listening to alternatives, and I may try some of them out on this very blog.  But for the time being, I’ll just leave it at this: for anyone who donates a minimum of ten dollars to the Manitoba Liberal Party, and who e-mails or posts a comment to let me know (we can use the honour system and clever pseudonyms, since I won’t bother checking), I will add one package of Beef Jerky to cover up this banner for the PC Victory Fund.

Exhibit A: The Beef Jerky of Liberal Justice

Exhibit B: The Victory Fund Banner (until the takedown notice arrives).

Note: As this brilliant campaign took 10 minutes to develop, I won’t be too upset if I don’t get my 30 fans.

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Assuming that the Free Press is correct, Swan will be dropping out today.

I don’t have time today for one of my long-winded posts, so I’ll just put out a few thoughts because I don’t want my latest word on this to be my prediction that Swan could win.  🙂

I don’t think anyone truly expected Ashton to be doing as well as he is, but it looks like his delegate count is within range of winning.  I imagine that, like me, Ashton and his campaign team expected a much stronger showing from Swan to take delegates away from Selinger.  Of course, a political strategist (i.e., not me) would most likely have foreseen that the chances were high that either Swan or Selinger could drop out before Oct 17th, which could still ruin the chance of a first ballot win.  And with only Selinger as his big opponent, that means a Selinger win (there will only be one ballet).

I like what I’m seeing in the NDP; for too long, it has been the Gary Doer party, relying solely on the abilities and attentions of one person.  This led to serious holes in NDP governance, with little to no improvement in health care or justice.  Hopefully an NDP government that relies more on its members for ideas and support will be a government that is a little less focused on the legacy and survival of the premier and more on the needs of Manitobans.

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It wouldn’t be fair to expect any replacement for Gary Doer to be as well-versed in political strategy as the outgoing premier; it takes time to learn to play the leader game, and even high-ranking cabinet ministers need some time to develop their skills.  However, some of the strategies currently employed by leadership hopefuls are unexpected and unconventional.

Odd Strategy #1: Ashton – we’ve got this thing in the bag

Ashton decided to have an announcement about his 1,100 new members, saying that he thinks he’ll win on the first ballot.  If this is a strategy meant to demoralize his competition, I think he’s underestimating the sheer organizational power of both Swan and Selinger.  Both of his opponents have strong teams, and matching 1,100 new members is nowhere near an impossible task for a campaign machine, as long as they aren’t just starting now with two days left.  I know from firsthand experience that a campaign team can seem dormant for weeks, until it comes out all of the sudden and surpasses all competitors.  The NDP machine didn’t move as quickly as we expected in Elmwood, but on the final day of advance polling, the NDP machine swung into action.  By the time election day came around, the NDP had hundreds of workers in Elmwood, and even the Conservatives had brought dozens of staffers and MLAs to get out the vote.

It could simply be a strategy to make sure that Ashton isn’t seen as an “also-ran” by the media.  Already, it seems that there is strong interest in Swan and Selinger, with Ashton sometimes being left to a small mention at the end of the story.

Odd Strategy #2: Swan – pick me, I’m young!

I understand the benefits of being a younger candidate, and I understand the drawbacks.  By placing emphasis on his age, is Swan bringing in votes or accentuating his inexperience compared to his competitors?  Some have likened the situation to the days when Doer took over from Pawley, and that because Doer was young then, it makes sense that his successor should be young now.  There is a strong difference, however, between the end of the Pawley days with the end of the Doer days: a majority of people still like Gary Doer’s leadership, and are sorry to see him go.  When Pawley was finished, it was clear that the voters were looking for a big change; I doubt that most of the NDP members who will be voting at the leadership convention are looking for a big change, and of those who do want to shake things up, they’re probably not wanting another Doer.

In a situation where a popular leader is stepping down, it’s a good idea to paint yourself as that leader’s preferred successor.  But by reminding NDP members of just how young he is, and by extension how short his public service has been, Swan is not quite framing himself as a stable continuation of Doer; instead, he looks like an untested option, with little track record to show.

Odd Strategy #3: Selinger – endorsements are the tops

I don’t doubt that Selinger’s people are working hard to bring members on board; however, his outward-facing campaign is underwhelming considering how powerful a contender he is.  His entry was late, and his announcements so far have been rather uninspiring.  He has received some good endorsements, and while endorsements are more important in member votes than in general elections, they’re still not enough when another candidate is working hard to be the man of the people.  Unless Selinger is connecting to NDP members en masse, his private lobbying may not be enough.

Predictions

I believe that Swan’s campaign team has the edge right now, because they have backing from many powerful figures in the Manitoba NDP.  As long as the NDP delegates aren’t made up primarily of left-wing activists, I feel that Swan has wide enough appeal to win, as long as his campaign team does a good job.  However, if any mud-slinging begins between Swan and Selinger, the advantage may shift to Ashton, who has strong “good guy” appeal along with his popularity among long-time NDP members.  I think that if Selinger’s campaign doesn’t start picking up, he may end up being too late to win.

If I were to place a bet today, it would be on Swan… but I wouldn’t bet very much.

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Things are moving quickly in the NDP leadership race (as they must, as candidates have only until Sept 17th to sign up new members who can serve as delegates).  As the field narrows, we are starting to see what kind of race will take place.

Likely candidates:

Greg Selinger: Selinger has the aura of someone who has always expected to be leader someday, and it looks like the media will be ready to consider him the front-runner.  The Selinger scandals, including Crocus and his self-serving role in the election financing fiasco (where he knew it was wrong, but didn’t bother to speak out), probably won’t hurt his chances of becoming Premier.

Steve Ashton: Ashton has a pretty good reputation, and has been an MLA since 1981.  His biggest challenge will be the delegate system, which gives more weight to Winnipeg and to union delegates.  Ashton is no stranger to unions, but if he doesn’t win their endorsement, his campaign may founder.

Andrew Swan: Swan is pretty popular in pundit and media circles, but I’m not sure that translates to the NDP as a whole.  Due to his shorter career as a cabinet minister (two years), there’s a strong chance that his run will be viewed more as a way to raise his profile for another leadership run in the future.

There are some other possible candidates, particularly Peter Bjornson and Stan Struthers, but my expectation is that the top three candidates will be Selinger, Ashton, and Swan.

While Selinger may be considered the front-runner now, that can definitely shift during the lead-up to the convention or even on the convention floor.

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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.

References:
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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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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Transcona resident and newly elected Elmwood MLA Bill Blaikie decided to make it clear that he thinks that the important issue of the Disraeli Freeway is something to make light of.

From Hansard:

I mean, if there ever was an ecumenical moment in northeast Winnipeg, it’s the way in which, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a federal, provincial, or municipal, whether you’re Conservative or New Democrat–I don’t believe we have any Liberals in northeast Winnipeg, which is a happy situation–but not wanting to transgress on the non-partisan nature of the debate, Mr. Speaker, we were all united, even those who were unelected, on the unacceptable nature of the 16-month closure that is part of the current plan the City has.

Blaikie then proceeds to speak at length without providing any actual information, and then takes another parting shot at those who dared to speak out against the NDP’s history of neglect in Northeast Winnipeg:

There was a temptation, certainly in the recent by-election, to “partisanize”–I don’t know if there’s such a word–the issue.

Of course, there was no mention in his speech about viable and cost-effective alternatives, such as the immediate twinning of the Louise Bridge with a temporary span, which was of course an idea brought forward by the Manitoba Liberals.  Just as with every other issue, including the outright theft of money from motorists driving under the regular posted limit inside unmarked and poorly marked construction zones, the NDP and Mr. Blaikie show their contempt for the voters of Manitoba.

Let’s keep the bridge open while it’s being repaired, either by, as I say, building a second span first or by finding a way to repair it and keep it open at the same time.

Obviously Mr. Blaikie’s non-partisan approach includes ignoring any ideas that might come from the non-existent Elmwood Liberals.  If I existed, I’d be pretty disgusted right now.

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