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Rally for outlet construction

LAKE Manitoba-area residents and cottage owners are pressing for the speedy construction of a planned outlet to regulate the lake.

On Tuesday, they rallied outside the legislature to blast the province's water policies and urge the outlet's completion within three years -- about half the time the government says it needs.

The demonstration, organized by Manitoba Conservatives, drew about 100 people, including Tory MLAs and staffers.

Speakers criticized the province for overusing the Portage Diversion, which diverts Assiniboine River water into Lake Manitoba. They said it keeps lake levels unnecessarily high and contributes to algae growth and sediment buildup.

They also accused the province of failing to properly compensate area farmers and fishers for ongoing income loss from the diversion.

But mainly, they were upset by the length of time the province predicts it will take -- seven years from when it was first promised a year ago -- for an additional outlet channel to be built to lower the lake's levels.

"Seven years is too long. Close the diversion now and do not open it again unless there is a real emergency," said Scott Greenlay, director of the Association of Lake Manitoba Stakeholders, and an executive member of the Delta Beach Association.

Steve Topping, a senior government water-management official, said the province will try to complete the Lake Manitoba outlet project before 2020, if possible.

Topping said Manitoba must obtain environmental approvals, consult affected First Nations and do a lot of prep work before construction can begin. The project will be tendered, he said.

 

Charges in Stony Mountain death

A Saskatchewan man serving a federal drug sentence has been accused of killing a convicted Ontario child rapist and murderer behind bars at a Manitoba prison.

Cordell Charles, 25, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder for the weekend slaying at Stony Mountain Institution. The charge indicates justice officials believe the crime was planned and premeditated.

Duane Edward Taylor, 53, was found unresponsive in his cell Saturday evening. Staff members performed CPR, but could not resuscitate him.

RCMP haven't released specific details about the homicide.

Taylor was serving an indeterminate sentence for first-degree murder in the 1981 abduction, sexual assault and killing of two-year-old April Marie Morrison in Kingston, Ont.

Court records show Charles, a resident of North Battleford, Sask., had a history of drug offences.

It's not clear how long the two men had been at Stony, a medium-security federal prison just north of Winnipeg. And justice officials won't say if Taylor's past crime played a role in his fatal attack.

 

Pallister criticizes credit rating

AN international bond rating agency's rebuke of the Selinger government's financial management Monday is cause for concern, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says.

On Monday's Moody's Investors Service downgraded the outlook for Manitoba's Aa1 debt rating to negative from stable. It means that it will cost the province more money on future borrowings.

"It is a significant, significant and very serious announcement," Pallister said of the report.

He said while the government tries to minimize its impact, it means less money will be available for such priority items as health and education.

The government says the Aa1 credit rating is fourth-best among provinces and two steps above what it was when the Progressive Conservatives left office in 1999.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2014 B2

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