Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Roblin Boulevard 8 - New Development

The old Charleswood Small Car Service building. It has been bulldozed already.

The original Charleswood Veterinary Clinic building.

The new Charleswood Veterinary Clinic building which uses the land vacated by the mechanic building.

In the community meeting of November 16, approval was given to the expansion of the Charleswood Veterinary Clinic. It expands their property onto the now demolished Charleswood Small Car Service.

Charleswood Vet has a reputation as a compassionate operation. My in-laws had nothing but good things to say about them and the care of their dog. Congratulations on their expansion.

As for the small car service center that is now gone, it is a reminder of the kind of business that occupied the downtown Charleswood neighbourhood for so many years.

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Great Canadian Talk Show - Podcast 2

The Great Canadian Talk Show had its second podcast on Saturday. Wanted to mention it earlier but with the byelection going on, I waited till now to post this.

Once again a great show and if you didn't know that this wasn't done in studio, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. The only thing I miss is the interactive part where someone would call in or text and have a point that was immediately placed on the show. The promos of the show on Kick FM were absolutely correct. It was the only call in show in the province between 4 and 6.

For those that miss the open public aspect, the show will have an audience participation podcast shortly. The event takes place December 7, Tuesday. I will put up some more information shortly on that. It looks like they might film it as well and I assume they might out it up at their facebook page.

Also on their facebook page is continued interest in forming a public affairs radio station on the FM band. I will follow up more on this in the days ahead.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Byelection Results

The NDP must be counting their lucky stars that there are not a lot more like Kevin Lamoureux around to steal their safe seats. And Michael Ignatieff is probably hoping he had a hundred or more people like Kevin Lamoureux with as strong a electoral machine.

Looking at the comment sections of some media groups and some NDP supporters just can't seem to believe it. Some were confidently predicting Lamoureux would go down in defeat. Now, I don't know who they will blame. Surely not the media since this was a low key event.

However, they are not the only ones to get it so wrong. Here is the Winnipeg Sun today:

Three federal byelections -- one in Ontario, two in Manitoba -- will be fought Monday in the fog of Grey Cup aftermath, hangovers, missed flights and lost bets.

So we might as well predict our winners now.

In the Ontario riding of Vaughan, perched above Liberal-drenched Toronto: Conservative candidate Julian Fantino.

In the Manitoba riding of Winnipeg North: Conservative candidate Julie Javier.

And, in the Manitoba riding of Dauphin-Swan River: Conservative candidate Robert Sopuck.

Yes, we can hear the Liberals already -- as in what else would you expect from Sun Media, a right-leaning newspaper chain more prone to boot-licking the Harper government than booting it in the slats?

But that's always the left's default position.

The reason three Conservatives will win is because they are the best candidates, arriving at a time when the Liberals are spinning their wheels, and getting no traction from Michael Ignatieff, a truly hapless leader.

I wonder if the Winnipeg Sun really believes that the Conservative candidate was the best person for the party could choose. They really undermine whatever credibility they might have by bloviating on that type of grand scale.

Who are they going to blame for their candidate's poor showing? The media? The ethnic vote and big money?

The NDP made a mistake in saying this:

Just two days ago, NDP executive director Brad Lavigne was telling reporters that the trio of byelections Monday could be seen as referendums on each party's leader.

"If a leader loses momentum [Monday], they'll have a hard time gaining it back before the budget gets tabled in February," Lavigne told reporters.

And yet, it was NDP Leader Jack Layton who not only lost a seat, but saw his party lose thousands of votes in Vaughan.

In the Manitoba riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, the Conservatives easily held the riding, and the NDP vote total improved over the results of the 2008 general election.

If there is one thing a byelection proves it is that anything can happen if the the focus is on the local candidates and not on the national front.

I have no idea if the Liberals will lose their seat in Vaughn. It certainly looks like that even at this late hour. However, if they do, they can point to the fact that local candidates do matter in these type of elections.

And despite what the NDP said two days ago, I don't this reflects on the leaders save for the fact that they are the ones who help attract good candidates.

Still, I think the NDP in Manitoba are likely to be quite upset. They have been increasingly angry and frustrated as of late. They really can't understand when a vote like Winnipeg North goes against them like this. They will have to be careful how they react in the days ahead. If they lash out more and more, it could reflect poorly on them in the upcoming provincial election.

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Byelection Day

Today is the federal byelection day. Two of the three seats open are in Manitoba.

The campaign has been very low key. Conservative candidates have dodged debates and reporters. It remains to be seen whether the electorate will have issue with that.

The northern riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette will be a difficult riding to dislodge from the Conservatives. Whatever the merits of the other candidates, the voters there tend to support the right of center and Conservative candidate. There has been no indication that the Liberals or NDP have found an issue or a candidate that could change the dynamics of what is considered a safe seat for the Conservatives.

The Winnipeg North riding in Winnipeg is a different story. In general, this has been a seat that the NDP can count on. It was only in the 1980s when the NDP and Progressive Conservatives were deeply unpopular both on the federal or provincial fronts. It was the Liberals who took advantage of this dynamic and landed a seat in the riding and it took some time for the NDP to gain it back.

What makes this election different is who the NDP is facing this byelection. Kevin Lamoureux has carved out a level of support in the heart of NDP territory. A good chunk of the federal riding contains his provincial seat. While Kevin Chief is a good candidate for the NDP, the party has rarely faced someone who can organize at Lamoureux's level.

Still, byelections are difficult to predict. The NDP has the advantage for sure and the better oiled election machinery. Voter turn-out will be key. Whichever candidate gets his vote out will win this election.

Whatever your voter intentions, get out and vote. As mentioned, byelections are unpredictable. A confident party can be stung by their own supporters who stay at home believing the result is in the bag.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adrenaline Adventures To Open In Headingley

Above pictures are examples of cable wakeboarding from Europe and elsewhere.

Camsur Watersports Complex in the Philippines, the world-class wakeboarding park

Manitoba is one of the provinces that has been known for some great wakeboardering over the years. It is one of the advantages of having so many lakes and rivers. However, it has not been as great a place for training or opening up the sport to ever greater numbers of people due to the costs of boating.

However, now it has been reported in a variety of places that construction has begun on a wakeboarding cable park just outside city limits at Roblin Blvd and the Perimeter Highway.

Cable parks in wakeboarding have been limited to Quebec which not surprisingly trained some of Canada's best in wakeboarding.

The gold standard in cable wakeboarding in the world is the Camsur Watersports Complex in the Philippines. Apparently, the Winnipeg facility is the match or better of that park which has hosted quite a few international competitions.

Future look at the cable park just outside the city.

The park is not limited to summer sports. At $5 million of all private money, success depends on getting people there in winter as well. As such, winter snow tubing is expected to open just before Christmas. Using cables to pull tubes up a man-made hill, the snow slide will be the closest facility of this kind to the city.

The multi-year building program anticipates a skating rink on the huge man-made lake looking onward to 2011-2012.

In the summer, the 20 hectare site is to be transformed into the cable wakeboard park and a rope climbing course. A beach is also part of the plans.

The young family with a background in construction developments is enthusiastic and has a can-do attitude. Heck, even though the site is just outside of Winnipeg, you can imagine what they might do with the $7 million for an indoor waterpark that Sam Katz has had sitting in city coffers doing nothing the last few years.

No government moment has been used for this project which seems to have a sound business plan and a product not offered anywhere else.

It could be that in 2012, Adrenaline Adventures hosts North America's first wakeboarding world cup.

All I can say is well done. This family will be one to watch in the years to come.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crime and ERs

Good story from the Free Press on the increase in ER visits the last two years.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says they are not alarmed. Really? They had one ER nearly shut down under the strain in the last years and was only able to keep their ERs staffed by piling money in to the point where the doctors there are paid higher than specialists.

Meanwhile, violent crimes keeping feeding the numbers at ERs and new citizens to the city can't find a non-ER doctors when they need them.

The NDP has been in power for ten years and have not solved these problems yet. Greg Selinger has made some big promises in the last months. However, his government have shown worse numbers in crime and in the ability of people to find a doctor.

It is a little hard to believe they have found solutions to those problems now.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Speed Trap on Corydon Avenue

The speed trap that exists between Tuxedo Avenue and Kelvin Blvd was maintained at the November 16, community committee meeting.

The three councillors from the committee dismissed a report from the civil service that stated that raising the limit from from 50 km/h to 60 km/h would not have severe implications for safety. The 50 km/h would be maintained from Tuxedo Avenue to Cambridge Street since there are numerous businesses and schools located in that stretch.

However, there was a recommendation that Tuxedo to Kelvin Blvd be raised to 60 km/h at a cost of $400. It was that recommendation that was dismissed with no explanation.

So next time you receive a speeding ticket at Park Blvd where the police set up nearly every day to catch people where the civil service says there is no danger, be sure to thank your councillors:

The Winnipeg Police have a trap almost every day on the right side by the park.

And those councillors are:

Councillor Fielding
Councillor Havixbeck
Councillor Nordman

You might ask them why they felt that this speed trap continues to exist when the civil service sees no need for it.

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Darth Vader Recording

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Conservatives Don't Debate in Byelections

There was another debate in Winnipeg North tonight and all candidates showed up except Julie Javier from the Conservatives.

Kevin Lamoureux from the Liberals, Kevin Chief from the NDP and the Greens and the rest of the candidates were present but no Javier.

I can find no evidence that any debate has happened in Dauphin-Swan River and Marquette at all. It seems Conservatives candidate Robert Sopock believes he is coasting to a win and I can't find any attempt to organize anything akin to a debate.

Likewise, in Ontario's federal riding of Vaughan, the Conservative candidate Julian Fantino refuses media interviews and debates.

I can't be the only one that finds this disturbing. And yet the Tories are expected to win Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette and are considered front runner in Vaughan.

Is a Tory refusal to debate nationally the next step? Is this the new strategy? Are federal candidates being advised by head office to refuse debates?

On the local city front there is a bit of a kerfuffle about Kevin Chief and a possible endorsement from Lloyd Axworthy. Apparently, it isn't an endorsement.

At one point in his life, NDP candidate Kevin Chief donated money to Liberals in Winnipeg Center.

The NDP response has been that he was supporting his friend and colleague at the University of Winnipeg Dan Hurley in paying off his debt from the election as Liberal candidate. Since the contribution came after the election, I have no reason to doubt him at his word. Perhaps Hurley or the Liberal party can clear up as to who or what the donation was made to. At the moment, it just looks like it was out to the local Liberal association.

One thing is clear: Lloyd Axworthy has indicated as president of the university he wasn't going to endorse candidates since he is expected to work with various levels of government for the betterment of the school. He may still be a card carrying Liberal but expectations that he is going to endorse people should be dismissed immediately.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Criminal Charges for Chief Two Years After Taman Inquiry

It is two years later and there are now charges against East St. Paul Chief Harry Bakema.

The criminal charges are:

criminal breach of trust
obstruction of justice

All of the charges pertain to the death of Crystal Taman in 2005 in East St Paul by a police officer from the Winnipeg Police Service.

At end of the Taman Inquiry, I wrote this:

Bakema had such faulty memory that he couldn't even remember calls he made to a auto dealership at the scene. The lack of notes sure looks bad. The rules of the East Saint Paul Police clearly state that notes are needed at any crime scene.

The RCMP has concluded after lengthy investigation that Bakema acted criminally in the case.

Crystal Taman
, killed on February 25, 2005 by Constable Derek Harvey-Zenk at the corner of Lagimodiere and the Perimeter Highway was spared any jail time save for dangerous driving. The sentence was under two years to be served at home.

Imagine how things would have been different had a good investigation been done.

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Black and White Police Car Models - After Crown Victoria

Dodge Charger police car

Chevy Caprice police car

Ford Taurus police car.

The old blue and white police colours on the Crown Victoria car in Winnipeg

The new black and white police colours on the Crown Victoria car in Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Police Service will have to look for a new police car model for next year. The favoured car for Winnipeg's finest is being retired in 2011. The Ford Crown Victoria is the choice of police car for nearly 70% of the fleets out there in North America now.

The rear-wheel vehicles have been able to stand an incredible amount of abuse and are tank-like in size and demeanour. Unfortunately for Ford, the vehicles are not big sellers in the non-fleet world. Consumer shy away from the large vehicles with unlovable lines. Once tax drivers started switching their vehicles around North America to cars like Toyota Prius, the writing was on the wall for the old Vics.

There are three possible sedan choices for the Winnipeg Police to switch to. Ford is trying to convince departments like Winnipeg to consider the front and all-wheel drive Ford Taurus plus a Ford sport utility vehicle available in 2012.

It is tough to convince the police purchasing departments though. The old Vics were rear-wheel drive and the officers would have to be re-trained at considerable expense. The rear wheel drive cars are thought to handle better for police use. Also, the old Vics were body on frame construction which meant that damaged panels were easier and cheaper to replace.

The Ford Taurus will have a powerful V6 but will be fuel efficient.

For rear wheel drive hungry police leaning to even more powerful V8 engines, GM has the Chevy Caprice. It has rather graceless lines but more interior space which is important when you consider all the equipment that has to be carried inside including weapons, on-board computer, communication system and rear passenger shields.

It is reported that the seats are better for police equipment and weapons belts as well.

The old Chevy Caprice cars were retired back in 1996 and were a favourite for police departments. This new version is built in Australia under the Holden brand.

My guess is that the Winnipeg Police would jump on this car in a hurry. However, the problem is that GM has not yet decided if the car will be available in Canada. It seems a good bet that it might but so far nothing has been reported.

The last possible car for the Winnipeg police to choose is Chrysler's offering which is the Dodge Charger. In the last couple of years, Chrysler has been placing this car with any TV series willing to take them. Watch an NCIS episode and they are always present. See if you can count all the series you might have seen them in.

It is that important for Chrysler to get their name out. In the last 20 years most police departments have usually only had Fords or Chevys in their fleets.

The Dodge Chargers have V6 or V8 rear wheel drive vehicles. They have more graceful, muscular lines as well.

A year awaits before we know which cars are truly available and what the criteria Winnipeg Police will use to base their purchase on.

It remains to be seen whether the police will even brief the public on all this. The decision to change the colours of the police cars was an internal one. We were never given a reason why or who chose the colours and no public input was asked for.

Our city council seems uninterested in any of this or about asking about what the police are doing in general according to what has transpired at one community meeting in the last month.

It is highly probable that one day we'll just see the new cars on the road and we'll never know why it was those cars were chosen over other cars.

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Menards Coming To Winnipeg - Sort Of

I noticed a Menards ad insert in the paper a little while back. I don't think it is the first time either. Manitobans are frequent shoppers at this large scale hardware store in Grand Forks and Fargo. In fact, I would hazard a guess that the store may have been the first experience of a big box format that many a person from the province had.

On CBC tonight, the news indicated that the our friends to the south are expecting a huge onslaught with the U.S. Thanksgiving Black Friday sales. One of the places expected to do well is Menards.

Menards has announced that they will be opening a service center in Winnipeg to received shipped goods from their Grand Forks operation. The cost of purchasing items is about a 40% discount on what Canadians usually pay. It is not surprising that 30% of the customers at Menards in Grand Forks are from Manitoba.

I would do one better. Perhaps it is time for the an invitation from the bigwigs in government and business for Menards to open a full store and distribution center in the city. Perhaps it is time to join their fellow compatriots from Cabela's in setting up shop.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nurse Practioner - Flawed NDP Policy

You would have thought that the NDP government in Manitoba would have figured this out. If you are going to announce a big health policy that entails using nurse practitioners to help ease the congestion in ERs and for primary medical care.

Unfortunately, we are now hearing that nurse practitioners were not even consulted when the government of Greg Selinger announced his plans for five clinics that would be staffed by these skilled professionals.

The reactions has been shock among nurse practitioners and an opinion that the policy is not only flawed but could be a failure.

There has been a lot of anger at nurse practitioners for speaking out. Looking at the comments, which I usually try to avoid since they are often made by provocateurs, said the nurses should shut up.

The fact of the matter is that the government will need the nurses on board if they want this policy to succeed. They will have to explain how this policy will work and how it will improve things.

At the moment, we have seen little in the way of a policy paper explaining how this idea was derived and based on what facts.

I am still of the opinion that one of the solutions for the bottlenecks in ERs could be private clinics of doctors running 24 hours a day. However, I would not announce such a policy in government if I hadn't researched it and consulted the various people and organizations that would be needed to run it.

Policy on the fly is no policy at all.

The government has been making bold statements on a variety of issues. If this has been off the cuff stuff because an election is looming, then we could be seeing a whole lot of failure ahead.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Polarized Politics in Manitoba

In recent weeks, it looks like the NDP has been attempting to polarize the electorate. Some of the blogs have been apoplectic about the Liberal vote. It would appear that what is desired is a two-way fight only on the provincial front and in the upcoming by-elections.

Some in the NDP seem supremely confident to the point of arrogance about winning Winnipeg North and Kevin Lamoureux's provincial riding of Inkster. A few even believe they will topple Jon Gerrard in River Heights.

It is in the interest of the NDP to push the idea of a two party race. Any time the Liberal vote has increased, it has meant trouble for their electoral chances.

The problem for the NDP is that not everyone is comfortable with their party. To be fair, not all are comfortable with the Progressive Conservatives either. Many in Manitoba are centrists and vote for the Liberals or now, the Greens.

The provincial NDP in particular are terrified about people who look for a third choice.

While the federal NDP yearn for electoral reform to reflect their actual vote percentage in the House of Commons, the provincial NDP are completely happy with what they have in Manitoba. In fact, I'm sure it would not be unusual to see the same people who hold provincial and federal memberships having contrary views on how the composition of legislatures are determined.

It is all so self serving.

Setting aside the idea of electoral reform, voters should not feel their voting choices are limited. If a voter feels the Greens represent their views best, please do vote for that candidate. It is arrogant to say that vote is worthless. It is arrogant to say that the choice can only one of two parties.

In the coming federal by-elections in Winnipeg North and Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette voters should not be discouraged for voting for who they want to vote for. The voter should brush aside the fear tactics from any side about their vote.

I have said a few times that the provincial NDP seems increasingly fearful and angry and are lashing out at the media, their opponents. To this end, they resemble the electoral strategies of the federal Conservatives of Stephen Harper.

Perhaps the NDP think this type of politics will work. The evidence is that sometimes it does. However, the provincial NDP in Saskatchewan ran the same time of strategy and it blew up in their faces.

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Tour of Scotland By Bike

A pretty amazing video.

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Active Transporation - Bike Paths Incomplete

Where is the bike path?

Snow is inevitable in Winnipeg but on some construction sites it looked like they had all the time in the world to complete them. Look at Kenaston Route 90 and you can't help wondering if the flimsy construction signs and pylons don't just disappear each time it snows. I certainly see them knocked down routinely.

In any event, we are at the start of winter and many construction sites are likely done for 2010 and we have several areas that are incomplete.

It was reported that 6 of the 36 bike paths have not been started. There are 12 that still have work to be done. The final tally of 18 bike paths are complete.

The federal government has said there will be no extension of federal money into 2011. This means that some of these active transportation projects could be looking to the city for complete funding.

I have already reported that Assiniboine Avenue work has been partly reversed and that two-way traffic has been restored.

It remains to be seen whether some of the other projects could be reversed.

Back on November 12, a cyclist found out how safe the Grosvenor Avenue and Waverley Street.

The picture from the story that Global News broke.

Fortunately, for this cyclist, the injuries were minor. Given how dangerous the circles are for pedestrians and cyclists, I expect we might see further problems.

If the city has to pay for the remainder of the active transportation system, it is possible they'll put a halt to completing the last of it. Sadly, this lack of money may mean that work that was done elsewhere in the city might stay despite whatever dissatisfaction and danger there is.

Update: Westworth Church has been able to push back against the complete plan for Grosvenor's bike path. No parking signs have long been removed from Lanark Street to the CN line.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

NBC Copying Canadian University - Black Eyed Peas

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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The Great Canadian Talk Show - Podcast

I haven't listened to it yet as I was working on Saturday but The Great Canadian Talk Show did a podcast which is available on their website. I look forward to listening to it. If I was driving or at home at the time of the broadcast, I would tune in. However, I always knew that the archives would be there to catch something of interest late on.

I hope that they continue to broadcast in this manner. My only worry is that the immediacy of calling in, texting and emailing somehow be incorporated into any new format. And to do that probably means finding a way to stream the broadcast.

I continue to look into a public affairs radio broadcaster that is run as co-op. More on that later.

Update: I was able to listen to the 58 minute mark and then it stopped.

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