Tuesday, December 29, 2009

McNally Robinson

McNally Robinson has been an important institution for Winnipeggers since the 1980s. Prior to that, people relied on Coles and W.H. Smith books in the malls, Eaton's and The Bay for books at the department stores and for an independent book store, they went to Mary Scorer, founded in 1959.

In the 1980s, Winnipeg Supply's John Doole took over Mary Scorer and ran them for a time. However, a new independent bookstore was just starting.

McNally Robinson was founded in 1981 and since that time has moved around to a number of locations until they arrived at their Grant Park Shopping Mall location in 1996. It was Winnipeg's first taste of a superstore for books and since then the city has had a love affair with that location.

The move from Portage Place to Polo Park for McNally may have been a killer given the recession and proximity to the Grant Park location. Computerized reading tablets were also a big seller this year which may signify a new trend in how people read books. It cuts out traditional booksellers.

Lastly, the brutal price cutting from Amazon and Wal-Mart has no doubt affected the bottom line.

On December 29, 2009 McNally Robinson has declared bankruptcy. The Toronto store at Don Mills and Winnipeg's Polo Park close almost immediately. The Grant Park and Saskatoon location remain open and will stay that way unless the receiver agrees to restructuring.

One thing I can say is that I certainly spend a lot of money at McNally in a year. Where did I spend it? At the Grant Park location for the most part.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Grapes restaurants

Above: Kenaston Grapes with its purple awnings.

Top Picture: Original Joe's 26th restaurant in Calgary.

Grapes Kenaston closed back in April of 2008 after 28 years in operation. At one point, there were six Grapes in the city. For some time, it was one of the few casual dining places closes to River Heights, Tuxedo and Charleswood.

I ate there a few times and at a few of their other locations. The menu as well as the ambiance was okay but nothing was outstanding. It is probably one of the reasons that they are reduced to their one location in Winnipeg at Pembina in the old Red Lobster building.

Month after month, the old Grapes at Kenaston has sat empty while signs have promised that Original Joe's, a Calgary-based restaurant, was coming soon. It didn't look like much work going on till now but new signage has gone up where the Grapes awning stood above the windows. Don't know when the opening is coming but it is the most activity seen yet from the papered over windows of the former Grapes.

Back in January, we were told that it was going to be a $300,000 reno of the old place. I don't believe work took place though until now. Given that the Linen and Things conversion was announced at the same time last year, we can see that a reno can and does happen fairly quickly when the client is driven to get the job done fast.

Good to see though that something is happening in this once successful restaurant location.

By the way, next door the Real Canadian Superstore was putting up its own huge lit up signs. The colour scheme is red, white and blue and the Superstore lettering is in huge red letters.

I mentioned that Grapes was down to one location. The Grapes Leon's location is now the second location for Hu's on First. Radio ads have been heavily promoting it as Hu's Bistro. It might be a good location for them.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pay on the Reserves

Compensation for public officials is always in the news and rightly so.

There is particular attention being paid to the Peguis First Nation.

The reserve north of the city has about 7 thousand people as members. The pay for the chief and band council easily rivals the highest for elected officials in the province. Heck, they even rival their fellow chiefs and council members in the province.

Many of the councillors earn more than the prime minister of Canada.

Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson has said part of the problem was with the old chief and council and that he has lowered the pay but even at a cap of $170,000, he still rivals elected officials representing far larger populations.

Hudson has said that his education and ability to bring in large claim settlements warrants the high pay. I guess we'll see if that argument sways the vote in the next election. One thing is certain is that poor people on reserves probably can only stomach so much.

This will be a made in Penguis decision regardless. Let's hope that some humility and some sense shakes the elected officials into accepting pay more in keeping with their fellow First Nations.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coach Kelly Charged With Assault

Can the news get any worse for the Bombers?

Now, Coach Kelly charged with assault.

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Bomber GM Resigning

With so little information about the resignation, it is hard not to think it is not linked to the recent board of directors meeting.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crime in Winnipeg

There seems universal disgust at the latest fatality due to car theft in Winnipeg. Sadly, this latest death many be connected to the death of a taxicab driver just last year.

The suspect involved in this latest crash looks to have evaded the conditions that were imposed on him from the last incident. Certainly there will be questions asked about how that could have happened. And no, a helicopter probably wouldn't have stopped the crime.

According to Statistics Canada, Winnipeg bucked the trend for 10 years with an increase in violent crime from 1998 to 2007. In 2008, Winnipeg had the distinction of being the car theft capital in Canada 11 years in a row. It was also the city with the highest murder rate in that year.

While car theft is down according to the police and Manitoba Public Insurance, it is still a major problem. Immobilizers and police monitoring have helped but it is questionable whether rehabilitation for the offenders has worked.

The big push we have seen for a helicopter and the insistence that it would be helpful in car theft remains an argument not presently supported by statistics. It certainly wouldn't stop a car thief. It certainly might help track a stolen car if the police have knowledge of its theft and a general location where to look. But would it stop the driver from the initial theft? That seems rather doubtful.

There may be some statistics that show how a police helicopter would be effective but the British who use them say they are best for pursuit, surveillance and tracking.

The city and the province seem motivated to get a helicopter but I suspect it will be hard to show how that it would be better than say, any number of other police, justice or social service alternatives.

Winnipeg has a drug problem. It has a fetal alcohol problem. It has a poverty problem. So much of our crime derives from these areas. Certainly we can arrest and imprison ever growing numbers of people in our already overcrowded prisons but then we might have a big deficit problem.

Winnipeg has the largest force per capita in Canada along with Montreal. Winnipeg has 186 officers per 100,000. We could do better. Thunder Bay has 217 officers per 100,000. Given our acknowledged high crime rate, we could stand to have a force at least as big as Regina's at 196 per 100,000 people.

I certainly don't know about the merits of a police helicopter in preventing crime but I do know more police dedicated to gangs, traffic, robbery and the like will have an impact on enforcement as well as prevention.

Still, if we don't address issues surrounding drugs and alcohol and still depressing numbers in poverty, we could have a force of 300 per 100,000 and still be confounded by crime. The Winnipeg Police Advisory Board offered a rather bleak assessment of crime in Winnipeg. The report recommended a number of things including getting to the roots of why crime is happening in Winnipeg.

From the city of Winnipeg's perspective though, overall police numbers would probably be more effective than buying a helicopter.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

NDP to Formally Run Candidates for Winnipeg

There have been informal ties that city councillors over the last years for all three parties. Only the NDP have had formal political ties in the past to their provincial counterparts. During the 1970s and 1980s, the NDP ran under a party banner. Some candidates won under the banner while others.

In the next election, the NDP plans to hold nominations for an NDP slate of candidate where more that one member wants to run in a ward.

At present there are five provincial members of the NDP on Council. They are Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge), Lillian Thomas (Elmwood), Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) and Russ Wyatt (Transcona).

It appears that Harvey Smith will face a challenge in receiving the NDP nomination.

Most, if not all, of the other Councillors have ties to the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Sam Katz has suggested that party politics don't belong in City Hall. He is a little disingenuous on the subject. Historically, there have been party slates and even now Council is set up more on the lines of government and opposition with the mayor picking a cabinet.

Still, I don't know that the NDP will find greater success than they have now by formalizing municipal ties.

My feeling is that if one wants to see party politics at City Hall, it has to begin with how local government is set up. And that direction comes from the province. It isn't something that councillors can do themselves.

I don't see a driving force from the electorate in regards to party politics at the municipal level. However, it is not hard to see that the status quo in city politics results in almost no change in the people elected. The last time I heard, Winnipeg has some of the longest serving councillors in Canada.

Is that a reflection of satisfaction or is it an indication that it is difficult to challenge sitting councillors to the point of impossible?

Too much happens at City Hall behind closed doors and party affiliations, caucusing and the like happen whether people want to admit it or not. Perhaps it is time to see the process formalized. It will be interesting to see if the NDP succeed in raising their profile locally by doing this.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Insults, Boorish Behaviour and Other Internet Silliness

It always amazes me when some people act out on forums and blogs on the Internet. Many seem to do it because they are anonymous and really can't be held to account for it. We see this type of posting on websites for the Free Press and the CBC. It really amounts to a driveby where someone posts a shot at something or someone.

I can't say I find much value in the anonymous posting after a new story. It seems the refuge of those prone to less than thoughtful comments. Even with the presence of a moderator, it seems a corrupt process of airing an opinion.

There are some blogs that are written by anonymous writers. Numerous reasons exist why people write anonymously but throughout history it has been problematic because the identity of the writer is important in determining the authenticity of the writing. While some writers are compelling and write cogent thoughts, there is always a little doubt as well as questions about the writer themselves.

Some anonymous bloggers use their anonymity to act poisonously. We have seen in recent lawsuits that this has limits. Many fall short of crossing that limit but still act out in their writing. Some are admired for it while others are reviled. The same issue of authenticity keeps coming up though. Does the writer really have these views or is it just blowing smoke?

We have seen a few bloggers from Winnipeg that go to great length to spread mischief, don't allow for anyone to contradict them with commentary on their posts and correct complete inaccuracies with no admission they were wrong in the first place. Eventually the credibility of these writers is hurt.

Many anonymous posters and bloggers use insults and boorish behaviour to make their points. It can get really tiresome and has hurt more than one forum.

In recent days, it hasn't been anonymous posters and bloggers who I have encountered exhibiting insulting and boorish behaviour, it is people who actually who can be identified by name. For those who have seen my posts in Winnipeg blogs, I generally try to be civil even if expressing an opinion.

I do admit that I have gotten carried away on political forums although I have kept it within the parameters of being evicted from the forum and tried to stay to the topic at hand. With that in mind, I often don't react immediately to the type of personalizing that can happen. Nowadays, when it happens I find the best response is to ignore such people.

I'll always express my view as well as defend it but I feel no need to act as someone's foil while they insult and act out.

Sadly, I had to disengage from a poster today. I won't bother stating who has earned an ignore. Those tracking a number of different blogs in Winnipeg will know. It is unlikely that any response I made was going to end the behaviour so I felt it was for the best. Still, you wonder how such a person acts in public? Do they call people names to their faces? I can't imagine that ends well.

I'd like to say though that the majority of people I see post or have posted to me in local forums and blogs have been civil, thoughtful and a credit to their person. Hope to see a lot more of that in the years ahead.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009


I mentioned a while back that Charleswood has had an influx of Japanese restaurants in the last year and a bit with Sushi Park and Asahi.

River Heights has been going the same way the last years. I noticed this week that a small sushi restaurant named Kudara is opening in the former cat and dog pet supply store It's Raining Cats and Dogs On Academy Road. The pet store has moved closer to the St. James bridge on Academy. Right next door is a spay and neuter clinic which has been at their location for a few years now.

Kudara joins California Sushi and Asoyama Sushi which are between Lanark and Beaverbrook Street.

Is it too much to ask for some Indian restaurants now?

By the way, Lux for Sprouts, a kids store moved from its Academy Road location to the new building built on the Anglican church site at Lanark and Corydon.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Parking, parking, parking part 1

There has been a heated debate about the issue of parking in the city of Winnipeg.

I have been following the story in the Manitoban about the situation at the University of Manitoba and Free Press and Sun have been reporting about the issue downtown and the Health Sciences Centre.

In the case of the University of Manitoba, it has been a point/counterpoint argument. People interviewed on the story for parking there complained about how difficult it was too find parking. Many have simply told the complainers to take the bus. The response is that Pembina buses are often filled and pass by people waiting at stops until the next bus arrives.

The university only built a parkade in the last years and it is often filled to capacity.

Now, I can't speak to the issue of what is going on at the University of Manitoba but let's be clear: The university is not easy for everyone to get to no matter what mode of transportation ones takes. Walking, cycling, public transit and cars all have problems in terms of time, availability, distance, exposure to the elements and personal danger.

There are 6,400 cars going back and forth to the University of Manitoban. That number won't go down substantially unless the university does more to increase usage, availability and convenience of public transit to the students and faculty.

The new transit corridor the city is building may help a bit in terms of traffic along one path. However, it will be quite some time before it is in place.

It is possible that the university has oversold the parking spaces it does have on campus. This has been suggested by some but not confirmed by parking managers at the U of M.

In the end, whatever the reason is for the parking issues, it is important to realize that they are indeed issues. It doesn't help to tell people to get to the university earlier if it means that parking spots are filled earlier. It will still be musical chairs where someone doesn't get a spot.

In the meantime, what can be done? In terms of parking, the university has to get more people into carpools. With greater financial incentives and possibly better parking spots for people transporting a certain number of students, it is possible to reduce the amount of cars heading to the university.

Long term, the university would do well to have more people living on campus rather than commuting.

Where the university has no real control is in terms of available city-wide buses or climate controlled shelters for people to wait for them. As one student has indicated, waiting for a bus and then taking a bus over a great distance can be time consuming. Perhaps that can be mitigated by ever greater park and ride express buses to the university.

Whatever the choices, they won't happen soon enough for some students to benefit.

We live in a car world. The location of the University of Manitoba contributes to the problem but it is unlikely we are going to see that change. Nor are we going to see an end to the car given the sprawl of the city. The only thing that will help is to find ways of reducing the car traffic to the university that works for students and faculty.

I will address the issue of Health Sciences Centre in another posts as that affects the University of Manitoba Bannatyne campus and the hospital together.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google brings Street View to Winnipeg

The Free Press building as featured on Google Streetview.

It is now up late Tuesday.

Winnipeg looks good.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Shopping

Sun photo of Dave Angus advocating Sunday shopping.

The Sun is reporting that the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is asking for a loosening of the Sunday shopping rules.

There was some controversy when shopping was first allowed but Manitobans have voted with their feet. Go to any shopping mall or grocery store and see the crowds.

The Chamber has asked for a modest change of perhaps two to three hours more.

The idea should be reviewed.

Those that do not wish to work on Sunday or shop on Sunday should not be forced to. However, those that do want to work or shop on that day should receive consideration too.

My view is that Sunday shopping should be allowed without restriction. Let the market decide what works well for them as they did when many stores decided to close 30 minutes earlier each night rather than stay open till 9:30.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Howard Johnson Airport Shut Down

After a CBC investigation, the Howard Johnson hotel on Ellice was shut down after not meeting fire code rules.

The hotel reviews for this particular hotel have done Winnipeg no favours over the years. It appears social services have been using the hotel as a long term stay for people in need. It shows.

It is surprising that Howard Johnson allows their name to be associated with this ramshackle and now dangerous place.

All things considered, the hotels around the airport have improved over the years. The Sandman Hotel, Sheraton Four Points, Hilton Suites, Comfort Inn, Greenwood Inn and Victoria Inn have either just been built or have been renovated to improve their competitiveness.

The Howard Johnson has probably lured more than one unsuspecting airport patron. It is time the name was stripped from this substandard building.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exchange District Housing

Winnipeg Free Press photo of the Exchange redevelopment talked about for Market and James Avenue.

Second Free Press photo of Portage and Main parkade

Hot on the heels of the Union Bank Tower conversion to housing comes the news that Qualico is talking to Nygaard about the six buildings they own downtown. The proposal by Qualico would see housing put on the upper floors with retail on the main floors.

Once again, as with every development, the issue of parking comes up. The city may be on the hook for a 450 car parkade. I am wondering if the parkade financing might come from the sale of the city owned parkade at Portage and Main. The 978 car parkade is a money spinner for the city which has been used as a piggy bank over many years. The premise on which the city wishes to sell the facility is that they want to pay off the parking authorities debt and use the money for other city facilities. The problem is this: the debt was created by the city by taking money out of the parking authority in the first place.

There are a lot of questions to be asked in regards to selling the parkade but it just being rushed through.

More on the parking issue again soon as the story is still in flux.

In principle though, additional housing for downtown is great. However, many people got excited about Nygaard's investment back when it happened as well. A lot of times there are big dreams indicated but no follow through from public or private sectors.

Here's wishing that Qualico's intentions reach fruition.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Union Bank Tower

Picture from the Free Press of the Union Tower

The Union Bank Tower's conversion probably owes a lot of its redevelopment money to the need for stimulus investment in today's economy. The funding of Red River College's culinary school in the abandoned Royal Bank building would have likely remained on the wish fulfillment list but timing is everything.

The $27 million retrofitting has been talked about for a while but in October, the Tory government was in town bearing gifts along with other levels of government. Paterson GlobalFoods, a local grain company and the Winnipeg Foundation have also committed a good chunk of change.

It should be noted that the Winnipeg Foundation has probably done more for urban renewal in Winnipeg than many others with money donated to the Centennial neighbourhood and to the Central Park district.

The Union Tower, situated beside City Hall, promises to be one of the more transformative redevelopments in Winnipeg. The 107 year old skyscraper is listed as western Canada's oldest tower. It has stood empty many years now since the Royal Bank left for the siren call of being near Portage and Main.

Red River College's plan in a nutshell was to move its culinary school from its Notre Dame campus to the tower which would be perfect as a showcase for street level restaurants. The food prepared and served by students would cover fine dining (Jane's Restaurant), casual dining (Hard Drive Cafe) and take out (Grab-and-Go).

The stimulus funding that is being showered all over Canada made it possible to go ahead with the work.

One of the more interesting aspects of the project is that it includes student housing. The upper floors of the tower will be converted to a 100 bed student residence.

In one stroke, this project will fill a historic tower with people that will be present 24 hours a day.

Some has said this project will not necessarily do anything for the downtown and cites the University of Winnipeg as an example. This was countered by a letter from the University of Winnipeg.

However, Galston's suggestion that the University of Winnipeg has not had a "good effect" on the local community is not only dead wrong; it completely ignores the facts. If Galston actually took the time to walk south of Ellice Avenue today, he would see community renewal in action: a vibrant, pedestrian mall on Spence Street and a front lawn teeming with students, faculty and local residents alike; a basketball court regularly used by children and youth from the local neighbourhood; a brand new building called McFeetors Hall, home not only to nearly 200 students, but dozens of families from the local community, and a new day care centre -- one of the largest in Manitoba -- serving children not only of students, but from the community as well. On the north side of Ellice, he would see the Helen Betty Osborne building, home to the Wii Chi Waakanak learning centre (a community computer lab) and the Global Welcome Centre for immigrants and refugees, many of whom live in the neighbourhood.

The truth is that both writers are right... and wrong.

It is true that the University of Winnipeg has made strides in the last several years. However, this community mindedness was hampered severely by cutbacks in the 1980s. It was back then that the last of the University of Winnipeg dorms were closed to make space for other uses for the university. Similarly, apartment blocks on Spence were taken over for a daycare and Menno Simons College. While the daycare and the college were both worthy additions, the university began to lose population after hours and weekends.

For a university to be vital at all times, it needs people there at all times. The loss of the dorms and students living nearby was painful. The opening of McFeetor's Hall Residence this past fall brings 175 residents downtown. Likewise, the university's four houses on Balmoral Street keep students close to campus where they make use the neighbourhood services.

The Red River College plan for housing at the Union Tower ensures that people will not just be present during business hours. That alone will be a change downtown.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Selinger's Choices

So much for people rumoured to stepping down.

The new cabinet jumps from 18 to 19 people. Many stayed in their old job. As predicted Bill Blaikie and Jennifer Howard were named to cabinet.

Some predicted that Flor Marcelino would get a spot and she did.

As listed by the CBC, here is what they are responsible for:

* Jennifer Howard, minister of labour and immigration and minister responsible for persons with disabilities.
* Bill Blaikie, minister of conservation.
* Flor Marcelino, minister of culture, heritage and tourism.

Rosann Wowchuk becomes Finance Minister, the first woman to hold that position.
Steve Aston becomes Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.

Some other cabinet changes included:

* Andrew Swan, minister of justice and attorney general.
* Stan Struthers, minister of agriculture, food and rural initiatives.
* Kerri Ivin-Ross, minister of housing and community development.
* Eric Robinson
, minister of aboriginal and northern affairs.
* Jim Rondeau, minister of healthy living, citizenship and youth
* Peter Bjornson, minister of entrepreneurship, training and trade.
* Dave Chomiak, minister of innovation, energy and mines.
* Nancy Allen, minister of education.
* Ron Lemieux, minister of local government.

There were no changes to:

Teresa Oswald (health), Gord Mackintosh (family services), Diane McGifford (advanced education) and Christine Melnick (water stewardship) remain in charge of their respective portfolios.

It still feels like Gary Doer's government but some of the charm that Doer had is just not going to be there. It is probably going to take a little while for people to get to know Selinger.

The mere absence of Doer makes some ridings competitive for the Progressive Conservatives.

Given the large cabinet, the PCs can probably find some weak performers to critique and put into question the performance of the government. It is a while to the election and some major issues of the economy could give the NDP its first real test in years.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

CBC News

I waited a bit to CBC News on both radio and television. Aside from a new a music intro for the radio news, it hasn't changed much. CBC's The National and CBC Newsworld had had significant changes though, not the least of which is renaming it to CBC News Network.

Much of the media has made light of the lack of chairs for all of the CBC News programs. They have a point. Some may recall when Peter Kent used to stand by a podium. It was an experiment that didn't last.

I think the thing many people have noticed is the busy background of swirling graphics.

In terms of content, the National is still presenting the news as they have but it seems more geared to who is delivering the news. In other words, Peter Mansbridge is interacting more with the correspondents, sometimes in the studio.

As the days passed, they have stopped Peter from roaming around the National studio floor as much as he did in the first day.

I'll wait a few more weeks to assess again but CBC's National News now ranks third in the country for national newscasts.

I hold off on commentary on the new Politics show and the new business show with Lang and O'Leary.

As for CBC's News at 6, I find it repetitive. Given 90 minutes, I'd expect a little difference in each half hour. It would be nice to see a local politics panel once a week or a review of entertainment rather than a constant refrain of the the same stuff.

It is good to see a late night local CBC News again but it is a pale comparison to what they used to have for late night.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Selinger Era

Greg Selinger
pretty much had the advantage in terms of winning the NDP leaderdship from the beginning. After Andrew Swan bowed out, the momentum tilted towards Selinger even more. What Steve Ashton did was campaign hard, gain membership and keep some excitement in what many believed was a forgone conclusion. Organized labour used its slate to ensure it was a foregone conclusion by using their reserved slate of delegates to massively support Selinger. Perhaps they feared Ashton was too much of a gamble compared to the more drab and centrist Selinger.

So now we have the Greg Selinger era.

Aside from the chaos of the H1N1, Selinger has a number of changes to make in his cabinet, Hydro board and in his personal staff. He will probably keep much of the Doer team in place but he has to find a strong person to replace him in Finance and a replacement for Oscar Lathlin.

That is only a small amount of spaces for change unless some of the cabinet is leaving politics and first stepping down from cabinet.

Rumour is that there are two cabinet people who may be stepping down.

They are:

Dianne McGifford

That leaves an opening in Advanced Education.

Dave Chomiak

That leaves an opening in Justice.

I have heard no confirmation of either.

My guess is that we will see Bill Blaikie added to cabinet but beyond that, it gets fuzzy. Jennifer Howard comes to mind.

There may be a few people left on the sidelines after this wondering if they will ever get a chance in cabinet. I imagine that there might be one or two that might be a bit upset.

This is one of the main issues about a long serving government. The beginning of the end for the NDP in the 1980s was not keeping everyone happy in their caucus.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kenaston Boulevard Part 1

Manitoba Minister of Transportation Ron Lemieux (right) along with Winnipeg Deputy Mayor Justin Swandel talk to the media about Kenaston Boulevard plans.

Free Press photo

Surprised we don't have Bruinooge with a prop cheque too.

The Conservative Party cheque giveaway continues and Winnipeg is the recipient of the money to spent... in a Conservative riding. Amazing how that happens, right?

Rod Bruinooge, the Winnipeg South MP for the Tories is ponying up $18 million while the province is on the hook for $15 million and the city will pay $22 million.

With all spending, the cheque is not in the mail. Bruinooge says that the money is contingent on the Tories getting elected. Nice.

Later, Bruinooge said the federal cash is contingent on the Harper government winning the looming election or surviving long enough to write the cheque.

Ostensibly, this money is to extend Kenaston to the Perimeter Highway where it turns into Bishop Grandin. It is also to link Waverley to the Kenaston through Waverley Heights. The plan seems a little sketchy on whether an overpass is in the works at Bishop Grandin or an interchange at the Perimeter.

There are so many questions about this project. If it is supposed to be a stimulus project, one figures it would be starting by at least next year. An actual detailed plan is critical as well as a debate about the pros and cons of things such as underpass or interchange.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

CKX Part 4

The message left on CKX's website.

In a shocker, CKX collapsed after Bluepoint walked away from keeping the station afloat. Here is the video of their final broadcast.

The impact on the community will be substantial.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Swan Fall and Down to Two

Free Press photo of Swan and his supporters and withdrawal from the race

Now that Andrew Swan has stepped aside and supported Greg Selinger, it has turned into a dog fight between the Selinger and Steve Ashton.

The Free Press has tracked delegate support and says Selinger has the most as well as momentum. Still, Ashton continues to close the gap with some of the large ridings selecting his people.

Some seem to think that no matter what happens, the NDP will depart from the direction that Doer took. It seems that the fear in some quarters of the NDP is that Ashton will be the biggest change the party can make.

The leadership will be decided October 17. The results of the Probe Research poll said the NDP remain at 45% in support but this might not last. The poll was speculative as was the musing about a snap election. I don't know that we will get a full grasp of the NDP's selection of leader for a while. If they do go for a snap election, it may backfire on them as it would be a rejection of their fixed election date legislation.

The NDP will have some serious thinking to do about what their strategy should be following the leadership race.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kapyong Barracks Part 2

Kapyong Barracks

Google Map of the Kapyong Barracks site alone Kenaston

The court case for the Kapyong Barracks continues.

Federal lawyers have argued that First Nations were offered a crack at bidding for the land but didn't and now want the land given to them. The First Nations say they tried to communicate with the Feds and they didn't respond. Perhaps the truth lies in between.

The court has asked the First Nations to argue why they have a claim to this land in particular. Under the Treaty Land Entitlement, First Nations can make a bid or ask to be given federal Surplus Lands. So far, it looks like the First Nations do not wish to bid on the land with money they have already received to do this but would rather be given this land free.

The court is likely to reject that outright as the TLE clearly states that a bid might be part of the process. There is no way that a court is going to unilaterally pick one option over the other without negotiation.

The federal government has said they have the want to designate Kapyong as Strategic Land. This would have automatically transferred the land to agency Canada Lands where companies could bid to develop it. Even at this time, First Nations have the opportunity to bid on the land to turn it into a reserve.

As long as the First Nations believe the land should simply be turned over to them with no offer on it, there will be a dispute. At some point, if the court decides that enough consultation has taken place, Kapyong will transfer to Canada Lands. However, this could very well be a very long time in court figuring it all out.

The land has fallen in value but remains an area many are interested in given that Ikea is going up just down the block.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NDP Leadership Race

The Manitoba NDP leadership race is on. The date for the convention is October 17.

The deadline for signing new members is September 17. The new legislative session starts September 14.

So far there are three viable candidates who have announced. They are Andrew Swan, Steve Ashton and Greg Selinger.

Of all the candidates, Selinger has probably the greatest advantage as one of the most senior ministers. After that, Swan with the generational change has strength. Ashton can say he is the most experienced of the candidates.

At the moment, it looks like Selinger has lined up the most supporters followed by Swan.

One sad note is the fact that no women have joined the race. I wonder why this is so.

So far we have not heard too much of the vision and policies the leadership candidates espouse. We'll see if anyone breaks away from the risk adverse policies of Gary Doer.

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