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A sign, perhaps?

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Question period at the Manitoba legislature is a great time for me to catch up on email.

That’s because, sitting up in the media perch, there’s not that much else to do.

Because there’s certainly nothing happening on the floor below, unless you like hearing the Tories repeat the words "tired and desperate" and the NDP the words "reckless and arrogant" again and again and again and again.

Other reporters check up on the Facebook profiles and one religiously plays BrickBreaker on his Blackberry. He’s gotten pretty good at it.

Some MLAs apparently feel the same way about question period.

One for sure updates his Facebook status and there are more than a few who sign and seal their Christmas cards.

I’ve spied a bunch of them, the odd cabinet minister too, with their Blackberries out during question period. I’d like to think they’re busy answering constituent concerns and making sure the wheels of government don’t come spinning off.

But I’d be wrong.

There’s also a couple of MLAs that I’m sure catch up on sleep missed from the night before. It’s so obvious they might as well bring in a pillow.

Anyway, the problem with keeping your nose to your BB screen during QP is that you can miss some good stuff.

Like on Friday.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton was out of his seat talking to NDP Interlake MLA Tom Nevakshonoff when a teeny-tiny bit of the ceiling fell off and hit him on the shoulder.

The guess is with all the snow we’ve had and the legislative building being as old as it is, there’s a bit of a leak where melting snow is getting through the ceiling window and under some of the plasterwork. It appears to be bubbling up and small pieces of paint and plaster are now flaking off.

At this point it doesn’t appear too severe and no one is in any danger.

No, the bigger threat to the senses is what passes for debate on the floor.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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