Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

"I haven't even written anything down yet, man."

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Those were the immortal words of a fellow press gallery scribe, cuddled up with all of us in the media gallery for Question Period last week.It's been the most boring three months ever at the Manitoba Legislature. Except for the hog barn ban, the NDP government has done absolutely nothing of note since Christmas. That means the Tories had plenty of time to mine their sources, hoard all sorts of damning details of government waste and corruption and craft the perfect question to make Premier Gary Doer's head explode. Nope. They asked about hogs (way to woo Winnipeg, guys...) and hallway medicine. The health question was based on a story CJOB's Richard Cloutier had on his show that morning, not on any sleuthing the Tories did while the house was out.There's two things to say here.One, Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen believes Question Period is good for getting Doer on the record about some things but essentially useless for getting the Opposition's message into the media. That's true, and I don't know whose fault it is - the Tories for asking such lame questions or us for throwing up our hands in boredom all the time. Traditionally, the Free Press has sent both reporters up to the gallery to sit through QP, since there used to be a schwack of tidbits that shook lose. I think that might change.Second, as reheated as the Tory questions are, there's just not a huge amount to bug the government about that will score points among voters. Doer has done just enough on just enough fronts to have just enough of an answer for everything. He is so painfully cautious that he almost never causes controversy. The economy is fine and a windfall in federal transfer payment means the NDP escaped the budget hacking and slashing the Tories were forced to do in the 1990s. So, except the power line, Crocus and the odd lady stuck in a hospital hallway, McFadyen doesn't have a lot of material to work with.Which is why our notebooks might stay empty during QP for some time to come.

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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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