Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Short snappers - coast to coast edition.

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What do you know - Manitoba isn't the only province in this country worried about getting approval for an electricity transmission line. In Ontario, proponents of new transmission lines needed to get juice from recently re-started plants at the Bruce Power nuclear generating station are finding it more than a little difficult to get everyone to agree on how and where the new line should be built. Globe and Mail provincial politics guru Murray Campbell explains the arse-backwards scenario facing electricity-starved Ontarians now in a solid column in the April 29th edition. (Link not available because blog author is not a six-day subscriber.)This story certainly resonates here in Manitoba, where Premier Gary Doer is sticking to his pledge to stay away from the pristine boreal forest east of Lake Winnipeg when Manitoba builds its new transmission line sometime in the next 10 years. The Ontario experience is good news and bad news for the premier.On the good side, the troubles in Ontario seem to justify the premier's concern about what first nations and environmental activists could do to delay construction of the Hydro transmission line. However, on the bad side of the equation, it also substantiates the concern that there could be the same level of opposition no matter where the line is established. Doer has said the line will go down the west side of the province, but Manitoba Hydro has not identified a proposed route. You can bet that once that route is laid out, there will be local governments, property owners, first nations and environmentalists lined up for a chance to derail the project.*****Not back to the future, but all speed ahead to the past!The people responsible for operating North America's only supervised, legal injection site for people addicted to illegal drugs are urging the B.C. Supreme Court to "just say no" to federal efforts to shut it down. The site had been operating with a judicial exemption from federal laws dealing with possession of illegal drugs. That exemption is scheduled to run out this summer and the federal Conservative government has not indicated whether it will consider a renewal. The injection site operators are going to court to plead their case.It's 2008 and despite mountains of evidence indicating that safe injection sites reduce the disease and crime associated with drug addiction, we're still letting our squeamishness get the better of us. The federal government apparently believes tough love - in the form of harsher sentences and additional law enforcement - is going to wean addicts off hard drugs.Those who know otherwise can only wonder what they are smoking.*****People, and not guns, may kill people, but Toronto City Hall is still urging the federal government to ban handguns outright and increase the penalties for anyone other than police and members of the military to own such weapons.The council motion, which passed 39-3, comes as Toronto struggles with a near epidemic of handgun-related crime. Last January, a bystander was killed by a stray bullet from a semi-automatic handgun that was legally registered to one of the men now charged with his death. Gun enthusiasts like to claim that the problem is illegally smuggled guns that are at the root of the problem.Toronto Mayor David Miller , currently Canada's most outspoken anti-handgun activist, has correctly pointed out that this is untrue. Studies in the Greater Toronto Area have shown that a majority of the guns involved in crimes were at one time legally owned guns in Canada. In fact, the biggest source of guns used in crimes is legal gun collectors/owners who are the victims of break-ins, or who do not take appropriate care in storing their weapons.The motion from Toronto city council is not binding, of course, on the federal government. Nor is it expected to be particularly effective. Bloody shame.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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