Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

The Battle of the Bobbies

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Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen has had some good (if somewhat rehearsed) lines lately in Question Period. He's been haranguing the NDP every day about the muddle that is the east side and the decision to run the new Manitoba Hydro power line down the west side. He calls it Doer's "daffy detour" because it's going to cost millions more and leak valuable power. He also ribbed Doer for his "shifting buffet of reasons" why the power line can't run down the east side. Not bad.Yesterday was even more fun, though. McFadyen invoked the Bobbies - environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Manitoba Hydro boss Bob Brennan.McFadyen brandished duelling letters from them both - written to the Free Press three years ago when the controversy over the power line started to germinate. The letters were mostly about northern dams, so they weren't quite on point, but it was still a bit of QP theatre that really did seem to irk the premier.Kennedy said dams and transmission lines damage the boreal forest. In a pointed reply, Brennan said that's an "irresponsible exageration."Thundered McFadyen: “Will the premier say that the real reason [for the detour] is that he’s afraid of having a fight with Bobbie Kennedy?...Whose side is he on? Bobbie Brennan’s or Bobbie Kennedy’s?”Hmm, looks like Doer is on Kennedy's side. It appears that Doer is worried about Kennedy's clout and the ability of his group and other environmental activists to tie up the construction of the east side power line in years of court challenges and regulatory wrangling. One Doer spinner noted in an e-mail that Kennedy has a $70 million budget to do just that. So, in the Battle of the Bobbies, it looks like the win goes to Kennedy.

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first covering city hall and then the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter. Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school. She has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category.

She was a Southam journalism fellow at the University of Toronto’s Massey College in 2012-13, where she studied indigenous issues, urban planning and political science. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists and has served on several boards.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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