Friday, September 30, 2011

Manitoba Election 5 Liberal versus Liberals

John Harvard and Anita Neville decided to throw Jon Gerrard under the bus today and endorse NDP candidates in Kirkfield Park and Seine River.

Both have mused in the past about merging the NDP and the Liberals and seem to be hurrying along that process.

It has to be a bitter pill for Gerrard who has presented a good platform, has recruited some excellent candidates and received some credit in the press for trying to show some alternatives.

I have stated I don't believe in the two party option of simple left and right choices.

Jon Gerrard has one thing correct and that is the NDP performance in health is underwhelming and the worst place you can end up having happen to you is to end up in the emergency room. While the NDP clams they have reduced wait times, they don't include waiting to be discharged out of the ambulance.

The thinking behind Neville seems to be "anyone but the conservatives." Sadly, that attitude wasn't held by the NDP who gunned hard for her and the result was...a Conservative.

We need a third or more choices in our Legislature. Some Liberals seems to want to end their party by undermining support for the party. It would appear some Liberals are moving right and some left.

Doesn't leave room for us centrists.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Famous Dave's Restaurant Coming to Winnipeg

The closets Famous Dave's restaurant to Winnipeg is in Fargo. There are two places to get ribs in Fargo. One is Space Alien's and the other is Famous Dave's.

In short, people who love ribs are are looking for something a bit different than Tony Roma's or some of the other restaurants who serve ribs or riblets such as Applebee's are going to love Famous Dave's.

Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd, an experienced restaurant operator with the Wok Box, is responsible for the restaurant coming and a number of locations will be opening. The first will be at Lagimodiere Boulevard in the Reenders Square shopping centre.

The list of restaurants from the U.S. that people want to see here just got a little shorter.

The indication is that Famous Dave's is moving to Reenders Drive but where? Could this be the end of Royal Fork which closed in Fargo in 2008 due to competition? We'll see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Voted

Hats off the Elections Manitoba for better ease in voting this year. Certainly this concept can go even further but the ability to vote in a variety of places for numerous days is the way to go. Someone who does not vote, does so knowing that they have a harder time blaming lack of time as the reason.

I am in the Tuxedo riding which takes in a chunk of Charleswood and River Heights. I expect no surprises in this seat as mentioned earlier. There are plenty of signs for Heather Stefanson, I see fewer NDP and Liberal signs than the last election.

I have been wholeheartedly unimpressed by the election thus far. I don't even go as far to say that the two main parties have a hidden agenda. They have no agenda except power and uninspired governance. The PCs and especially the NDP have been nasty.

I did look at all the platforms of the parties and try to see who the local candidates were. There were a number of items in all the platforms that I liked but I was singularly not impressed by the financials of anyone who didn't cost things out.

But who can blame the parties? It isn't like the federal Tories cost their programs even now. They introduce an omnibus crime bill and won't say how it will be paid for.

There have been two polls out in the last day from Viewpoints Research and Environics. One has the NDP up comfortably, the other has the Tories up marginally. The advantage still goes to the NDP.

There is probably one poll left out there in a campaign that had almost nothing to gauge what has so far been an unengaged public.

In the end, I cast my ballot for the Liberals for the best of the platforms but for a candidate who, aside from a resume, I didn't know that well.

In truth, no local candidate here really fleshed out a lot for me to grasp a hold of and make me think local politics mattered.

My centrist leanings and need for an option was fulfilled. It would be terribly tragic if we are left with even less choice after this election and into the next.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winnipeg Pizza Wars

Over the last couple of years some of the big pizza chains have moved into the city. Papa Johns in the latest American entry into a very competitive market.

We have seen a retreat of the chicken restaurants lately. KFC had a major contraction in the last two years and Chicken Delight retreated from the prominent corner they inhabited on Corydon Avenue.

Chains such as Pizza Pizza and Little Caesar's have started flooding the market. In my area, Presto Pizza closed rather than compete against Little Caesar's across the block.

We have always been price competitive in Winnipeg on pizza. We have also had some amazing pizza joints over the years such as Santa Lucia as well as some dominant players such as Pizza Hotline and Domino's.

Sushi and pizza seems to dominate new places opening while the chicken places continue their decline. Chinese food restaurants seems to pass from family to family over the years.

It is difficult to see what the margin is on pizza but Winnipeggers love the stuff and there will be knock down, take out brawl in the next year.

Now, if we could get more Indian restaurants and pubs setting up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Manitoba Election 5


And Charleswood

It has been an election campaign about fear. Fear of change. fear of the other guy.

The vitriol in this election comes more from the NDP than pretty much any other quarter. The Blackberry Addicts and Just Damm Stupid are instructive in this matter.

Aside from The Black Rod, the sealed from the outside world, written in a dark basement somewhere with doors bolted and shotgun across the lap, there is not a lot of right of center blow the barns door off blogs.

I am not likely to vote Progressive Conservative in this election. I am in the Tuxedo riding. Some River Heights and Charleswood people get thrown into this mix, me among them.

Not since 1988 when Gary Filmon squeaked out a win against Jasper McKee has the riding been threatened with not having a Progressive Conservative MLA. Given the amount of signs for Heather Stefanson, it is hard to see fall in the riding.

I have nothing against Stefanson personally. She is solid enough and likely a cabinet contender should the Progressive Conservatives get into office. I don't fear her. The fear or secret agenda of the NDP don't wash with me.

However, I have simply have not seen outstanding ideas from the PCs or from her when it comes to the future of the province. The PCs under Hugh McFadyen have come a long way. However, they still have not articulated outstanding ideas that have the wow factor in them. And when they have possible strength in saying they would have better financial management for the future, it is tempered with spending promises and deficit reduction that says "not quite conservative."

The NDP candidate Dashi Zargani is no stranger to the riding. He ran for city council although he played down his NDP roots when questioned about it in that election. He is an improvement from the last candidate the NDP ran who was a student from across town. I had nothing against that candidate in the last election except I could not help wondering why the NDP party, the government in power, could not attract a single local resident to run under the party colours. It isn't like they were the opposition who might not have any local presence and had to send a candidate from outside to ensure a full slate.

This time the NDP have a local candidate in Zargani. Still, I remember from two council forums in the last election, he fell short of wowing the audience with ideas for the riding. I was initially impressed with him as a candidate but he needed polishing then. This time, I have not heard too much of what his ideas for the riding are.

Zargani's problems don't come alone from having very little on his website or campaign literature or door knocking. It comes with the long term party he represents in power. I simply cannot abide the fear that drives it.

The NDP could have said they were proud of what they had done but they were planning on renewal and change in the future. They didn't do this. Instead they have been on the attack like never before. Nasty, venal, bullying with the power they have and brutish in various forums they try to shout down others.

The Green Party has Donald Benham running. He is the son of former River Heights councillor Donald Benham. He is from outside the riding and is waving the flag for a stronger provincial effort on the part of The Greens. More power to the Greens but their stand on bans, restrictions and the like on a wide range of items make them unpalatable to me. Much like Prohibitionists, they don't seem to realize the backlash they would create. Much better for them to concentrate on their strengths of offering ideas that might save more money but wouldn't feel like a bitter pill shoved down one's throat.

The Liberals are running their past party president Linda Minuk as Tuxedo candidate. She is a bilingual lawyer.

Like Zargani, the Liberal candidate doesn't have a lot on her website about what she might do in the area. To be truthful though, hardly any of the candidates do. Minuk appears to be, like everyone else, standing behind the leader.

Jon Gerrard has been around a while. His platform does have difference from the other two parties, sometimes touching on policies the others don't wish to discuss such as Sunday shopping.

There is still time before the election for local candidates to make their presence felt so I won't say more till the date draws close. I really hope to see something either on a website, news article or elsewhere that gives me more information.

Until then, fear rules the day. Anger and nastiness prevail. And people looking to know more about their local candidates struggle. They try to sort through the chafe and for many, they try to care at all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Charleswood Fire Hall

The old Charleswood Fire Hall

You take a look at it and a few other old fire halls and realize the buildings do need to be replaced.

At 5000 Roblin Boulevard is where the old Charleswood Firehall is. It looks like a fire trap all by itself. It served as the old municipal building and has been used as a firehall since 1974.

I won't debate the overall numbers of fire fighters in the city. Suffice to say, they should have the best equipment and better buildings as well as regulations that help with fire safety. Still, a review of numbers has to be undertaken at some point. While some stations are very busy, others are in newer, safer areas where fires are rarer and under better control. Were it not more fire fighters becoming paramedics, we might see some stations not as active.

The station will look familiar to some in Winnipeg. It an exact copy of the Sage Creek station.

There are a lot of infrastructure programs throughout the city of Winnipeg. We have had a tax freeze for some time. Unless we are seeing ever increasing infill and higher values on our present land, something will give at some point.

There is no doubt that crumbling obsolete buildings and roads have to be fixed but a close check will be needed on the costs.

Charleswood will benefit at this juncture with a new building. It won't benefit if there is a budget crunch and huge tax increases.

There has been a certain amount of build up in how bad things have gotten for infrastructure. It amounts to a deficit of another kind. And one that will we all eventually pay for.

It is hard to see if we are going to change that type of growing deficit in Winnipeg.

Terra Commons Condos

Terra Commons Condos

A year ago, the B and M Land Company and Gem Equities had so many legal and regulatory difficulties that it was hard to see if they would emerge from it.

But over the past year, numerous businesses and government agencies have filed more than 30 lawsuits and actions through the courts against his companies or Marquess personally. Creditors have also claimed millions of dollars in unpaid bills and damages, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

In January, McDiarmid Lumber won a judgment against Marquess for more than $1 million.

And Manitoba’s Residential Tenancies Branch hit B and M Land with more than two-dozen orders last summer because the company hadn't been paying its electricity and gas bills.

Tenants at a B and M highrise on Cumberland Avenue showed CBC News orders from January 2010 instructing them to pay their rent directly to the tenancies branch.

The justification is to cover unpaid Manitoba Hydro bills from the company.

Over the last year, B and M owner Andrew Marquess sold some assets to Timbercreek of Ontario including former Sheraton/York Hotel which has since been converted to apartments again.

One of the properties to lie fallow was the 34 apartment units in the 19 building McPhillips Common. Some controversy was afoot as the buildings stood waiting since 2007 vulnerable to vandalism and fire. Now the project has the go ahead.

The buildings were to be the largest geo-thermal project in Manitoba. It will continue to be that but no longer will project be apartments, it will be two and three bedroom condos.

The home ownership market continues to be strong and for many developers, rental units are just not appealing.

The $25 million dollar conversion should be filled sometime next year.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Greg Selinger and NDP Wins Majority Government

NDP Wins

It seems some have already predicted this. And why not? The Tory campaign has been fairly weak so far in the ridings they will need to win.

It is not that the NDP campaign has been a fireracker. It hasn't. The Conservatives have been trying to push on certain issues but the campaign seems to be about personalities and on the personal.

The scare tactics used by the NDP are what the election is all about. Guess we shouldn't be surprised. The NDP tactic is the same one being used by the Liberals in Ontario and by the Conservatives nationally.

There are too few seats in the province of Manitoba that will never change. They will always be NDP or they will always be Conservative.

All of the change happens in only a few select ridings. It really is hard to see if the dynamic will change dramatically enough to unseat the majority NDP. At most, barring any major revelations, only a few seats might be gains. The voting public does not seem particularly engaged.

Surprisingly, there has not be a poll yet to see how the campaigns have fared. It is not really certain if that might change how people feel but it has been known to happen.

As far as the main issue of the election? It would appear to be Change and Stay the Course. The option of Check Out the Alternative to the Other Two seems not be considered. But then who can tell?

The election seems to be an afterthought on most TV coverage. I haven't listened to the college stations much. CJOB does do stuff in the morning and late at night, sometimes CBC too but they both have national programs that seem to take precedent. The Great Canadian Talk Show has quite a bit and I am listening when I can. Looking forward to more candidates talking about local issues.

There may be some room for local candidates to have an impact but it is so hard to connect to voters at the moment or motivate them.

The Sun has so many national news correspondents that only seems focused on ending the CBC. They don't have the horses to do a provincial campaign. The Free Press has had a number of stories but I am wondering if any information is filtering out. And I can't help think that some of their general interest columnists could get the led out and write some more election stories. I am serious about that. I know the paper is a general interest paper but an election comes every four years and timeliness matters. Where are the stories on health, social services as they pertain to the election now? Some of the columnists have written about them before. Where are the follow-up stories on crime and a focus on today's election. No offence but a tree fort in the yard story might have waited till later on.

So, with no major tectonic shifts, I think the no change in a majority government. Greg Selinger elected and an NDP win.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Manitoba Election 4

The NDP can't seem to help themselves. They love playing with the Crown corporations. Not content to let the Crowns operate at arm's length with specific goals and parameters, they seek to interfere and expand their control over them.

Witness the overruling on Manitoba Hydro and where the hydro lines will run.

The election promise to keep Hydro and Autopac the cheapest in the country seems like interference of the worst kind.

The Public Utilities Board is the oversight for these organizations for ensuring cost control, safety and the like.

We regulate the rates charged by Manitoba Hydro (electrical utility), Manitoba Public Insurance (auto insurance), some gas or propane utilities (Centra Gas, Stittco, Swan Valley Gas Corp.) and all water and sewer utilities outside Winnipeg.

We license owners and agents under The Cemeteries Act and funeral directors under The Prearranged Funeral Services Act.

We supervise the construction and operation of natural gas and propane pipelines, and make sure that gas and propane are safely distributed to Manitoba consumers.

We register brokers of natural gas under the Public Utilities Board Act.

So, let me clear here so all that fearmongering among the NDP stalwarts doesn't get out of control. I support our Crown corporation save for the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission which I think could stand to have a review. And I say that about the MLCC not much because I believe they are doing a bad job with their stores but because I don't know what case we can make for the stores being run by the government now.

If there is a case, then I can wholeheartedly support it.

It seems we are too afraid to really have the debate on such issues such as Sunday shopping or liquor stores.

Suffice to say though that Greg Selinger's promise to:

...preserve our affordability advantage.

might in fact, undermine the Public Utilities Board.

It also might discourage better energy use and safer driving. How might that happen? Well, the Manitoba government is the owner of the land at Waverley West. It was supposed to be a completely geo-thermal sub-division. That is suddenly off the table.

And why not? If hydro keeps their rates below market value, what incentive is there to actually switch over to other forms of energy?

Ditto, cars. Why switch to transit if the government keeps it below costs?

No matter how you look at it, it amounts to interference and that doesn't make for sound management practices or good leadership.

The NDP knows better but they are trying to lowbrow the election with promises that don't promote better government. It is disappointing.

The election has only had a few promises that actually have sounded good without being cynical.

After 12 years, the NDP fearmongering is getting quite tiresome. It is no substitute for fresh ideas.

Sadly, the Tories have not run a smooth or innovative campaign. Where is the promise of full time Kindergarten? Where is the promise to let retailers set Sunday and holiday shopping hours? Where is the promise to loosen liquor retailing?

Hope things change soon because it is a bit depressing thinking that our province continues to wait for others to do things. How provinces will have full time Kindergarten before us?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Return of The Great Canadian Talk Show

Meant to comment on this earlier but The Great Canadian Talk Show has returned in a regular format of podcasts. I am trying to catch up. It is like the return of an old friend.

Lots of interviews happening. I exppect more as the provincial election continues.

I hope a central archive page is coming because it is going to be hard to track down shows soon enough. It is always good to contrast what was said with what was done.

I can't say I have been overly impressed with TV coverage so far. Not a lot on radio either although this morning I heard a lovely summary of the Ontario Election on The House on CBC radio. CJOB has done their regular stuff but noting jumps out yet. The morning and afternoon shows seem to feature a lot of fluff.

Newspaper coverage is really only done by the Free Press. I am surprised The Sun hasn't endorsed the Tories yet. I have to ask: where is the extensive analysis? Reality checks? Guess editorials and columns? The Full court press online?

Still feel there is huge room for improvement.

Community radio, we miss you. Podcasts will have to do.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trailer For Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever

Catchphrase! And every guy just really wants a girl who boldly rejects all social norms, as evidenced by her dyed hair.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Manitoba Election 3

Trust the Winnipeg Sun to get it wrong.

They want to support the Conservative party in whatever jurisdiction they are in and no amount of crime legislation or policing is enough for them, they will ask for more. And only one political party ever gets it right for them and that is the Conservatives. All the other parties support criminals in their view.

Never does the paper look at crime prevention overall. They want bigger sentences, no pardons, no paroles, more police, more prisons and more spending.

It is highly doubtful they will ever truly ask how effective the police helicopter is compared to how the money might have been spent on officers on the ground. Seeing as how they were the driving force behind the helicopter, we shouldn't be surprised.

In their editorial to support Hugh McFadyen and ankle bracelets, they decide to trash Jon Gerrard and the Liberals as hugging thugs. Gerrard's crime: Wanting to spend money on recreation programs to help prevent kids from being attracted to crime.

What we don’t want to hear is talk about how community club programs are the answer to our crime woes, a preposterous suggestion put forward by the Liberals on Tuesday. There’s nothing wrong with handing out some money for such things, of course, but to suggest it will have much of an effect on curbing crime is a stretch.

So I have to ask the Winnipeg Sun: Do you believe the Winnipeg Police Service hugs thugs? Well, do ya?

The reason I ask is because the Winnipeg Police Service believes in recreation for kids to turn them around.

A report by a Winnipeg Police Service officer and city employee to the Protection and Community Services Committee recommended free access for kids who are involved in the province’s Turnabout Program, which focuses on kids 12 years old or younger who have gotten into trouble or are at risk of doing so.

The program would cost about $60,000 and serve roughly 150 families of four people according to a financial impact statement on the proposal.

Now, the Winnipeg Sun might want to bring back the death penalty and lock up all offenders and by all means that is their right. However, if the Winnipeg Police and Jon Gerrard think it might be cheaper to act *before* someone becomes an offender, does that make them huggers of thugs?

The name calling that the Winnipeg Sun is doing is akin the bullying and tries to make everyone one up each other for most aggressive anti-crime stance.

In the same paper that criticizes Jon Gerrard, the editors tell a letter writer not to resort to vigilante justice.

Sick to the stomach

Re: ‘Welcome to Killerpeg,’ Tom Brodbeck, Sept. 2.

I agree with Tom and every other good citizen of this city who is sick to their stomach about of youth punks getting away with murder. To add insult to injury, we the public don’t even have the right to know who these youths are because it might be unfair to them.

Well, if any friend or family member of mine is ever brutalized by young punks, I won’t be lobbying our government or crying out and begging my MP to change our weak-wiled laws. I won’t for two reasons. One, there are simply too many bleeding heart liberals in this country to see any real significant changes occur, now or ever. Two, I prefer to take out my own garbage.


Appreciate your frustration, but vigilante justice isn’t a good idea.

So, is the Winnipeg Sun hugging a thug for not agreeing that the people should deal with crime the old fashioned way? Are they far left commies?

I guess it is too much to ask the Sun to maybe look into something before namecalling. Could have been a good idea to ask the police and police association of what they thought of Gerrard's idea before labelling it. However, that would not be in keeping with editorials that have to be approved by others in terms of how it supports their chosen party.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hotels at Polo Park

Ellice site, home of the Fairfield Inn, future site of Hilton too?

Homewood Suites by Hilton plans to build on the same property that a Fairfield Inn by Marriot has gone up. If the location catches some by surprise, it shouldn't. Polo Park hotel construction has exploded and with the mall near 100% full, it is attracting shoppers from far beyond Winnipeg.

The Fairfield Inn itself has 126 rooms. No word on how many rooms this hotel will add. However, in the last little bit, nearly 750 hotel rooms have been added to the city.

The attraction of exclusive shopping, the Jets and expanded conventions and sports tournaments all seem to be driving the growth. That, and the fact that a lot of hotels in the city have simply closed such as the Charleswood or are unsuitable for families or business travellers because of a lack of amenities or a host of other issues.

The area in sore need of hotels? Around the Ikea.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Liberals and NDP Merger

In short. No.

No, no, no.

I don't support the idea of a merger. The thought that it is needed to defeat the Conservatives sounds all too desperate and opportunistic. It also ignores fundamental differences in the NDP and Liberal party.

The NDP was never just a split off vote from the Liberal party. It evolved all on its own.

A few people point to the Conservatives and their unification as proof of a need for an NDP Liberal joining. However, the difference is that the Reform party received a lot of its support from an en masse transfer of Progressive Conservative support to Reform in 1993.

Despite Reform's origins with Social Credit, Liberal and Progressive Conservatives, it was the PCs and conservative movement that gave the the party its fuel.

In essence, the Reform and later Canadian Alliance party was a split between the Progressive Conservative party.

When The PCs and the Alliance merged, it was really about re-unification. The same cannot be said about the NDP and Liberals. It isn't about reconciliation because both parties evolved separately.

I do not support a merger with the NDP. The party is too different, not centrist enough, has too strong union control over its structure and policy and has too hostile a membership to business.

In the absence of a Liberal party to vote for, I have said that I wouldn't vote at all. I'd run myself or vote a worthwhile independent rather than the Conservative or NDP candidate.

In Manitoba, we have seen what happens when a Liberal party is not represented in the legislature. It is a much more nasty, left/right battle with no room for centrists.

Jack Layton was many things but he really wasn't a centrist. He certainly tapped a populist pulse but clouds loomed on his horizon in regards to Quebec nationalism, constitutional reform, defence and the economy.

The NDP party holds some ideas in those area that differ from what a lot of Canadians believe in. However, they were able to paper over a lot of that with a populist message. It is tougher to stay populist in hard times or when decisions make people fall on either side of an issue.

The NDP in Manitoba was able to stay popular in part with a growing economy over a decade. While it may not have been as good as some provinces, it was good enough not to change horses when it came to election time. Gary Doer kept a lid on some of the worst inclinations of his party and growing provincial and transfer revenue meant he could throw money at some problems.

As the NDP know now, it is harder to be popular when you are in deficit and tough decisions may be required. In Manitoba, they government of Greg Selinger is hoping to squeak in before a full reckoning is needed of some of the hard choices that will come.

I have preferred the different approach of the Liberals both provincially and federally. There are many times when I have disagreed with that party on matters. However, I have never liked the either or approach of simple left/right decision.

I don't want a merger of Liberal and NDP because I know for a fact that many Liberals would not be part of an NDP party. If there was a combined party, some might opt for Conservative, some might elect to have a split off Liberal party and some might find their way to Greens or others. Some, like myself, when presented with no choice might not vote at all.

The NDP should stay as they are and so should the the Liberals. Generate ideas, recruit people and fund raise. This is the best solution to being the ruling party. There shouldn't be an assumption that combining the two parties equals victory in the next election.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blockbuster Closing

Many were closed earlier. The rest are going now. Blockbuster US basically threw Blockbuster Canada under the bus and used its American debts. The the new owner made it impossible for the remainder of the company to be sold by trying to deny them the use of the Blockbuster name.

It is another example of how the Canadian arm of a U.S. company can do better than the U.S. part and get dropkicked regardless. We have seen this with Linens and Things, Office Depot and now Blockbuster.

The St. James Blockbuster was doing a brisk business but no real additional sales as yet. Expect blow-outs soon.

The only large national chain of movie rental place that exist now are Rogers Video.

Google announced that they will be renting movies via Youtube this past week. However, there is not many new movies and it is a very small library at the moment.

Netflix continues to operate and with a better price. However, they too don't have much in the new category yet either.

While many people say that downloading or Video on Demand is what everyone wants, the two formats often don't have a huge library, offer new material quickly and can be expensive.

It looks like the end of an era but is it one that might turn out to have less choice and cost more in the end?