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Tories' wetlands pledge

The provincial Conservatives say Manitoba must do more to prevent the loss of wetlands in agriculture areas.

They say improved wetland management is one of the keys to mitigating future floods.

Tory Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday that if he were elected premier he would expand the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program, which provides incentives to farmers to protect wetlands and grasslands.

He said while ALUS has existed in pilot form, it's time to make it provincewide -- a move that would cost an estimated $20 million to $30 million. Presumably the cost would be shared with other levels of government and private partners, he said.

It's estimated that in Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined, the equivalent of one section (one square mile) of wetlands is lost each week, Pallister said.

"We can no longer afford to ignore wetlands loss," he told a news conference Wednesday. "I think the key point that we want to make today is that conservation pays."

Pallister said the benefits of wetlands preservation extend beyond flood protection. Such lands also serve to filter contaminants and preserve habitat.

The governing NDP mocked the Tories' conservation stance, calling it "uninformed."

Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said he was "pleased to see at long last" the Conservatives were supporting the province's water-management efforts.

In June, the government announced a $320-million surface water management strategy that included a wetlands component.

Mackintosh said the Tories don't appear to realize the extent of efforts already being undertaken in Manitoba to prevent surface runoff and protect wetlands. The results have gone beyond a couple of pilot projects, he said.

"Since 2012 alone, 166 water-retention projects have been completed by the (province's) conservation districts," he said.

Sex-ed view not Tory view

TORY Leader Brian Pallister says a Progressive Conservative board member is entitled to state her views on sex education, even though they don't reflect the thinking of the provincial party.

Candace Maxymowich, a 20-year-old Louis Riel school board candidate, raised eyebrows Tuesday when she tweeted abstinence is the only acceptable form of sex education.

She is listed on the PC Manitoba website as the youth rep on the party's board of directors, although Pallister said Wednesday as a candidate for public office, she is obliged to take a leave of absence.

"Just to be clear, the lady's position is her position. It is not the position of the party," he said.

"Any person standing for public office, whether it's civic, provincial, federal, has a right to state their position. We're freely supportive of that as far as the candidate's position. That is her position," Pallister said.

He referred further questions on Maxymowich's status to party president Ryan Matthews.

Matthews said Wednesday he does not know whether Maxymowich has officially sought a leave of absence from the party's board. He said he has yet to receive such a request from her personally.

The nomination period for school board elections is from Sept. 10-16. That's when people become official candidates.

"It's the expectation of all of our board members that if they're going to seek public office that they're going to take a leave," Matthews said.

"I think (Maxymowich's) actions would suggest that she is a candidate, so my expectation is that she will take a leave, and I'm expecting that to happen shortly."

Matthews said party board members are expected to be neutral. The rule about leaves of absence applies to those seeking elected office and those who would nominate or support a candidate's nomination, he said.

Girl chased, man sought

WINNIPEG police are looking for a man following a scary situation in the Westwood area late Tuesday.

At around midnight, a 15-year-old girl was walking in the area of Rouge Road and Browning Boulevard when she noticed she was being followed by an unknown male.

Concerned for her safety, she started to run. The male chased after her and attempted to grab her.

The girl screamed for help, and the suspect eventually ran off. He was last seen running north on Wordsworth Way.

The suspect is described as aboriginal in appearance, approximately 30-40 years old, 5'8" with a medium build. He was wearing a black hoodie and black pants.

It's summer -- with snow

IT'S the dog days of summer, but there's still snow to be found in Winterpeg.

Jim Berezowsky, manager of street maintenance for Winnipeg, said there is still snow at the four dump sites used by the city.

He says the pile at the Kenaston site is still about 18 metres high.

Usually the snow melts by the time summer is over, but Berezowsky admits sometimes Mother Nature needs a little help.

If it's not melting at the expected rate by the third week of August, the city will send in equipment to break the pile up so that it melts faster.

In late August or early September, crews then move in to clean up the leftover debris and move it and the remaining sediment out to the landfill.

The aim is that by the end of September, the snow dumps are clear and ready for another winter.

-- staff / The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2014 B3

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