The Sausage Factory

with Dan Lett

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  • Nothing to see here

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil a new cabinet on Wednesday, his first as head of a majority government. Tory MPs and their supporters from coast to coast are on tenterhooks right now, waiting to see if they'll get a call from the backbenches up to the "show." Although nobody will know for sure until late tonight who's in and who's out, the smart money says the shuffle will produce precious little news here in Manitoba.

  • What’s an election watchdog to do?

    It seems to becoming more and more common for newly elected politicians to be accused of breaking basic rules of elections and campaigning. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford is facing allegations he exceeded his $1.3-million campaign last fall by $70,000. Fords critics are demanding a more detailed audit of his expense returns to determine, among other things, whether Ford used family holding companies to funnel money into his campaign, which would likely contravene a ban on corporate donations. Not surprisingly, the imperial grand poo-bah of Ford Nation has denied any wrongdoing.

  • My academic is bigger than your academic

    In journalism, I have always understood you can find someone to say almost anything you want if you look long enough. It’s not the most flattering admission to make, but most people who regularly consume the news probably already know if you need to prove something, you can always find someone to back you up. It’s what I have always referred to as “the sweet lemon theory of journalism.” Most of us know lemons are sour. But if you give me a laptop, Google and a couple of hours, I’ll find someone who can swear definitively that lemons are sweet.
  • Per vote subsidies? We don’t need no stinkin’ per vote subsidies

    It was no surprise that Prime Minister Stephen Harper revived the idea of ending the per vote subsidy available to registered political parties. Harper tried in 2008 to do away with this form of electoral financing, but a coalition of opposition parties threatened to bring down the Tory government on a vote of non-confidence, and the move was taken off the table. This week, Harper put it back on the table. "Taxpayers shouldn't have to support political parties that they don't support. I think that's people's choice," Harper said in New Brunswick.

  • Over the hill? That's what she said

    Did Tory MP Shelly Glover really suggest that Liberal MP Anita Neville should be defeated because she's too old? Glover said in a television interview Monday that Neville was "past her expiry date." Liberals, some voters and seniors' organizations criticized her making an "ageist" remark. For the past 24 hours, she's steadfastly refused to apologize, suggesting that she was not taking issue with Neville's age, only her lack of fresh ideas.

  • Not all contempt is created equal

    In an effort to remain relevant to a much larger, younger audience, I have made a new commitment to Tweet during the election campaign. Those unfortunate enough to have followed me on Twitter before know that this is not the first time I have committed to using Twitter. I have been the proverbial heroin addict who promises to be better but ends up falling back into bad habits. This time I mean it. Really. I’m serious. Just watch me.

  • Fakes and election fun

    Fans of the beautiful game (which I'll agree is soccer but only to keep my soccer-fanatic friends off my back) may remember a recent video highlight from a U-20 match between Ecuador and. In this brief clip, Chilean defender Bryan Carrasco is challenging an Ecuadorean player near the Chilean goal. As the two players bump into each other, Carrasco grabs the hand of his opponent, and then strikes himself in the face with it. He then tumbles to the ground with an anguish that is reserved for the soccer pitch. Fakery like this is considered part of the general on-pitch strategy in soccer.

  • Irreconcilable differences?

    A federal election could be coming soon. Very soon. Like in a week or so soon. If you're a registered political party and you're in this election to win it, what do you do now in the final days before a writ is (possibly) dropped? Why you dump your candidate and find someone new.

  • The raving optimists

    Why do voters continue to accept the assurances from ambitious politicians that, unlike their opponents, they can walk through a storm and not get wet?

  • Doing the right thing?

    Do the right thing.

  • Some numbers to consider

    Why is it that some mornings when I crack open my newspapers and scan on-line versions of the papers I can't lay my hands on, all I see are fascinating numbers. Statistics galore. All fascinating. This was one of those mornings. Consider these gems:

  • Swan filled my inbox

    It’s really not all that surprising that there was a torrent of response from people wanting to debate last week’s column on Attorney General Andrew Swan. My inbox was filled with people offering comments, criticism and observations about Swan public condemnation of a decision by the Criminal Code Review Board to allow Vincent Li passes to walk outside on the grounds of the Selkirk Mental Health Hospital.

  • Attacking the Root Causes of Crime – Part II

    Further to my column in today’s Free Press, we received a well-time email from our good friend Sel Burrows, he of the Point Douglas Powerline, a residents’ association that has been lauded for its success in beating back an epidemic of street crime in a once-notorious inner-city neighbourhood.

  • It is so on

    It's still about 48 hours away from the official launch of Judy Wasylycia-Leis' mayoral campaign, but all available evidence suggests this campaign is on.

  • Tory nomination update

    The chances of a provincial election this year are pretty slim, but that hasn't stopped the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives from getting serious about nominations. This is a particularly important story, given Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen's pledge to take a more direct role in candidate nominations. The Tories have been active all over southeast Winnipeg, where the Doer-era NDP captured seats that have given them a stranglehold on what some Tories have referred to as "Fortress Winnipeg."

  • Things could be worse

    Having grown up in Toronto, and frequently visiting my family who still reside there, I’ve always found it instructive to compare the relative state of my birth city and my adopted city, Winnipeg.

  • With friends like this

    We return now to Toronto Centre, and the courageous bid by former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray to capture a seat in the Ontario Legislature in a provincial by-election. Murray was nominated last month to carry the Liberal colours in a seat that has long been held by Liberal MPPs. I commented on Murray’s candidacy in a dead-tree column, and followed up in The Sausage Factory when some former Winnipeggers weighed in on his candidacy.

  • Winners, losers and the victim of short-term memory

    We, the chattering media classes, love to pick winners and losers in cabinet shuffles. But when Manitoba's regional minister and senior government MP, Vic Toews, was shuffled from Treasury Board to Public Safety, it was hard to figure out exactly what happened. In a rare moment of sober reflection, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to have tried to move people into jobs where he thinks they will do the best job and not a place where they will inflict the greatest harm.

  • More on Glen Murray; random notes

    The commentary continues to flow fast and furiously since former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray vaulted back into mainstream politics. As you might have read in my dead-tree column last week, Murray is the Liberal candidate in a provincial by-election in Ontario centre. He has been heralded by Premier Dalton McGuinty as a star candidate and there has been speculation Murray may have a direct line into cabinet should he win. It all sounds so eerily similar to the storyline that accompanied Murray’s 2004 bid to win a seat for the Liberals in the House of Commons. History will show he fell short on that bid, but in Toronto, it’s a much different battleground.

  • Chopper process puzzles

    The helicopter debate gets a bit more interesting....

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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