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The stadium and the NDP

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There’s an old saying that a good lawyer already knows the answer to the question he or she asks of a witness in court.

We caught a glimpse of that during Wednesday’s question period.

Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen, trained as a lawyer, spent the majority of QP’s 40 minutes grilling Premier Greg Selinger on the status of the new football stadium at the University of Manitoba.

I won’t go into details as the full transcript is posted on Hansard.

What the transcript lacks is the tense atmosphere in the house and the tone of McFadyen’s questions and Selinger’s answers.

To digress a bit, I’ve been lucky enough over the years to have been in court to watch some of this province’s best prosecutors and defence lawyers in action. Names like the late Jack Montgomery, the late Bruce Miller before he became a judge, Hersh Wolch, Richard Wolson, and more recently Keith Labossiere in a police labour hearing regarding the killing of Kevin Tokarchuk, spring immediately to mind.

With each I vividly remember how each took command of the witness and of the room. There were moments when I stopped taking notes because I didn’t want to miss the exchange, that dance between the lawyer or prosecutor and the person in the box during direct and cross-exam. Unlike on TV, those moments do not happen that often.

It was that like when McFadyen went after Selinger. McFadyen commanded the room. He smelled blood.

It left me wondering how much the PC leader really knows about what’s happening behind the closed-door talks of how the construction of the new stadium moves forward.

The NDP want this stadium deal resolved PDQ. Badly. They want if off the front page and TV news and are doing their damnedest to bombard the media with other announcements to deflect us from the stadium.

Because each day it drags on in QP is another notch for McFadyen. The NDP is painfully aware of that.

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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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