Mary Agnes Welch's Gripe Juice

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  • D for Data

  • If a senator resigns, does anyone notice?

    Sen. JoAnne Buth resigned today. I was channel-surfing before heading in to work the night shift, and I learned this from a screen crawl on CBC News Network. It did not occur to me until about an hour later that Buth might be one of Manitoba's senators and this might be of local interest.

  • City of pointless secrecy

    Let me preface this rather long and nerdy post by saying I have rarely had a more head-explodingly frustrating experience with any government in my 15 years of journalism. To illustrate my feelings, please enjoy the short animated GIF at the end of this blog.

  • Everyone's in Israel

    A dozen Winnipeggers, nearly all Tories, are travelling with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his mission to Israel. This is quite inconvenient for us because many also happen to be in the centre of the latest round of political speculation. It's tough to ask someone whether he's running in River Heights when he's a little busy gladhanding in the Knesset. The Winnipeggers in Israel include:

  • Jury Duty, 1876

    I was part of last week's jury duty cattle call and spent two days with about 200 other Winnipeggers waiting to see if we'd get picked for one of four trials - three murders and a sexual assault.

  • NDP bait and switch

    The NDP has just launched what it's calling its Fairer Deal for Renters campaign. Flyers and emails (like the one below) are appearing in people's mailboxes directing them to a website where citizens can fill out a brief survey on how to fix the province's rental crisis.

  • Free Fido!

    In the last few months, I've been dealing with some laughably outrageous fees levied by the city for access to information requests.

  • A tale of three Tories

    Let me acknowledge something right up front: Journalists like people who return their calls and say stuff. We sometimes mistake accessible, open politicians for those with real talent, smarts or insider knowledge.

  • $2m for (boring) byelections

  • Not Making Census

    Most data nerds look forward to census day, and I’m no different. Last Wednesday, I was pretty geeked up about the last release from the 2011 national household survey, the juicy stuff on income. I knew the data would probably be dodgy, but I held out hope.

  • Open Oil

    I traditionally use this space to gleefully slag government, especially for being secretive and stingy with what ought to be public information.

  • Thanks, baby

    Normally, I use this space to gripe about government types. This time, I am full of love.

  • Alice Taylor meets the preem

    Alice Taylor (, who is quickly becoming my favourite Manitoban, had an unexpected visit the week before the provincial election.

  • Conservation speculation

    The sexy speculation in political nerd circles seems to swirl around who might be finance minister and, like Dan, I’d put money on Theresa Oswald or Big Mac. Jennifer Howard used to be a health policy wonk, so she’s an obvious choice for health if Oswald moves.

  • Election bumf

    The Grits recently got to the bottom of some online shenanigans that have been wasting their time and clogging up their website. The culprit might surprise you.
  • Women candidates "abhorrently disgusting"

    We get a lot of crazy emails and phone calls here at the Freep, as does every newsroom.

  • Grit spin

    Victory for Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard would be four seats, which would give him official party status for the first time in years. Perhaps hoping for a last-minute surge like the one that catapulted the federal NDP into opposition in May, Grit party folk are feeling hopeful (and possibly delusional) about these four:
  • Adam Beach, Tory?

    Adam Beach is a lot of things – good actor, handsome and charming, clearly committed to Manitoba’s aboriginal people.

  • Elaborate, Mr. McFadyen

    We had a rather dispiriting scrum with Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen Friday afternoon. I fear it’s the first of many where the guy — who is known to be a policy wonk — does nothing but duck real policy debates.

  • Cheesy move, NDP

    My boss on our news desk got an innocuous call this morning from a staffer in the Selinger government’s media office. The staffer (who was also at the NDP’s 2015 vision launch yesterday) cheerfully offered us a tour of the new birthing centre in St. Vital.

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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