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A riddle wrapped in a mystery

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So the NDP has decided to drop some of the more contentious, and quite frankly more curious, aspects of Bill 37, the overhaul of election and electoral financing introduced this spring by the NDP. No longer will the NDP government put a cap on non-election advertising by opposition parties, and the content of said advertising will no longer be vetted by a legislative committee dominated by the government of the day. All that leaves only one question.What the heck was the NDP thinking?Bill 37 arrived, for the most part, out of nowhere. It was sweeping - fixed election dates, new per-vote rebates, controls on political advertising - and seemed to imply there had been a lot of work done on it. But it was also clumsy and inexplicable in places. And it stirred such a hornet's nest of anger from the core critics of the NDP that it was hard to tell what Premier Gary Doer's end game was.Now we have the spectre of a majority government being forced to drop parts of a hallmark bill after opposition parties and lobby groups threatened to gridlock the legislature with filibusters and delegations to committee hearings. (As an aside, parliamentary democracy rocks and the Tories should be congratulated for using the tools at their disposal to put a stamp on Bill 37.)Other questions now linger. Why was Bill 37 introduced in the spring with a plan to have it passed before the summer break? Did the NDP not anticipate the blowback on this one? And why in the world would Doer introduce the per-vote allowances when he above all would know that kind of largesse would galvanize his opponents.As is the case with Bill 38 - the amendments to the balanced budget law - Doer seems to be buying more trouble than he needs to. Dropping the requirement to balance the operating budget on an annual basis was silly unless you're going to repeal the whole law. Tweaking it only angers and unites your opponents.The premier's instincts have always been the NDP's strongest asset. One can only wonder now if those instincts are a bit off the mark right now.-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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