Deveryn Ross

  • A how-to on political suicide

    BRANDON -- Looking back at the developments of the past seven weeks, Manitobans can only wonder what the Gang of Five former cabinet ministers were thinking when they launched their cockamamie scheme to unseat Premier Greg Selinger as leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party. Their series of errors began with their justification for the rebellion. The five -- Theresa Oswald, Jennifer Howard, Erin Selby, Andrew Swan and Stan Struthers -- claimed that an internal party poll had found the party would be annihilated in the next provincial election if Selinger was party leader, but ignored the results of another poll that suggested that the NDP was actually on track to win a reduced majority.
  • Recall laws empower voters

    BRANDON -- For the past three weeks, Manitobans have watched helplessly as dissident members of the provincial New Democratic Party caucus and executive have conducted a campaign to oust Premier Greg Selinger as party leader and seize control of the province's government. What began as rumblings of discontent from anonymous party insiders quickly escalated into open revolt and cabinet resignations. With the Gang of Five having walked away from the mess they helped create, Manitoba now has a B-team cabinet stuffed with retreads and no-treads, their primary qualification apparently being loyalty to Selinger.
  • Pallister must grab golden opportunity

    BRANDON -- A week from now, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister will deliver his party's alternative throne speech. Though it won't be his party's election platform, he says it will be "our vision of where we believe the province needs to go." With a civil war being waged within the Selinger government's cabinet and caucus, more Manitobans are willing to consider a change in their provincial government than at any time in the past 15 years. They want to know what that change would look like with Pallister as premier and are prepared to listen.
  • Brandonites to vote on trust?

    BRANDON -- In a campaign criticized for its lack of energy and ideas, it is the absence of one key electoral ingredient that has attracted the attention and concern of Brandon's voters. The city's mayoral election is just five days away, but three of the four candidates -- incumbent Shari Decter Hirst and challengers Mark Kovatch and John Paul Jacobson -- have yet to disclose the cost of their campaign promises. The fourth candidate, Rick Chrest, has made no spending commitments, so his cost stands at zero.
  • Brandon election puts voters to sleep

    BRANDON -- When Brandonites awaken on Oct. 23, many could have good reason to wonder what happened to their civic election. Six of Brandon's 10 city council wards have already been decided by acclamation and, of the remaining four wards, only one has more than two candidates. In the school board election, just nine candidates are vying for eight seats.
  • Ballooning police costs should be a ballot-box concern

    BRANDON -- It is the issue no mayoral or city council candidate wants to talk about, and yet it is the budgetary challenge that will most confound them should they be elected. The exploding cost of policing is something municipalities throughout Canada are grappling with. Between 2001 and 2012, total spending on policing grew from $7.3 billion to $13.5 billion -- a whopping 85 per cent.
  • Partisanship shouldn't be a dirty word in city politics

    BRANDON -- It seems to be a dirty word in municipal politics -- partisanship. It's as if the participation of political parties at the municipal level is harmful to the democratic process. It doesn't have to be seen that way. The subject has gained prominence in this fall's local elections in both Winnipeg and Brandon. Last week, Winnipeg mayoral candidate Gord Steeves alleged a senior member of Premier Greg Selinger's staff is a also key member of rival Judy Wasylycia-Leis's campaign, and his involvement would be inappropriate if Wasylycia-Leis is elected mayor next month.
  • Death of local democracy by neglect

    With Manitoba's municipal and school board elections just 48 days away, cities, towns and rural municipalities throughout the province are experiencing a troubling shortage of candidates for mayor, reeve, councillor and school trustee. If the municipal election were held today in Brandon, six of the 10 city council seats would be won by acclamation. Of the four contested wards in the city, only one has more than two candidates.
  • Fantino failing veterans

    In an op-ed titled It's a myth veterans are mistreated, published in Wednesday's Halifax Chronicle Herald, Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino lashed out at veterans who are unhappy with the treatment they are receiving from the Harper government, and at unionized members within his own department. "One myth is that veterans no longer receive monthly benefits and just receive a lump-sum payment," the minister wrote. "This is simply not true. Veterans are eligible for a range of services and benefits that enable them to get the financial help and support they deserve."
  • Brandon needs real fix for floods

    As the Assiniboine River waters slowly retreat from the second major flood in three years, the damage is everywhere to be seen. The areas around Brandon's Riverbank Discovery Centre, a jewel of Western Manitoba tourism, resemble ruins from a war zone. Concrete components of public gathering places in Eleanor Kidd Park, which has been closed since the 2011 flood, are strewn like childrens' toys. In every direction, there are dead trees, shrubs and flower beds. A coating of silt covers everything.
  • Harper's strategy: Who you gonna trust?

    What kind of Canada do you want? Who do trust to manage Canada's economy through uncertain times, and to represent the nation's interests internationally? It is becoming increasingly apparent those are the questions the Harper Conservatives will want Canadians to ask themselves before they mark their ballots in the coming federal election. The questions would form the sharp tip of a two-pronged attack designed to sow doubt in Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's ability to carry out the duties of a prime minister, and the direction he would take the country.
  • Joke's on those who thought referendum law had teeth

    BRANDON -- It is yet another reminder of how powerless Manitobans are to hold their government to account. Last week, Court of Queen's Bench Judge Kenneth Hanssen rejected an application by the Progressive Conservative party and its leader, Brian Pallister, to strike down Bill 20, the Selinger government's legislation that imposed last year's PST increase and suspended the referendum requirement.
  • Flood recovery initiatives need better oversight

    BRANDON -- As the three levels of government prepare to write cheques totalling hundreds of millions of dollars to cover damages suffered during this summer's flooding, they would be wise to first consider lessons that should have been learned after the 2011 flood. In the months following that flood, there were numerous allegations of evacuees who chose to live in hotels and receive other subsidies and "reimbursements" despite the fact that they had other places to stay and did not need the money. In some cases, the evacuees weren't evacuees at all -- they didn't actually reside in the evacuated area.
  • Gateway debate trapping opposition politicians

    BRANDON -- Is it a blunder by a disinterested leader with his eye on the door, or a tactical master stroke? The actions of a tired government that has lost its way, or a trap that will ensnare and ultimately doom its rivals? In the aftermath of Tuesday's announcement that the federal government would conditionally approve Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, the immediate conclusion of some in the media was that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has bungled the issue and backed the Conservatives into a corner that could ultimately doom the party in next year's federal election.
  • Sex-trade law protects young girls

    BRANDON -- Last month, I told the story of a Winnipeg teenager who was lured into prostitution and injected with meth by men much older than her so she could turn tricks for days on end without sleep. She was rescued when a wound caused by the injections became so infected she required medical treatment. One of the men involved had recently pleaded guilty to living off the avails of prostitution and had been sentenced to two years in jail. I argued that wasn't sufficient; that provincial criminal property-forfeiture laws should be used to seize the property of johns and pimps, and the hotels where prostitution is tolerated.
  • Court suit a no-win for NDP

    BRANDON -- The Selinger government may win its court case against Brian Pallister's challenge of last year's PST increase, but they will not emerge as winners. Last July, the Tories announced they would launch a legal challenge to the government's decision to increase Manitoba's provincial sales tax without first holding a provincewide referendum. They followed through on that promise in February, with the filing of a notice of application in the Court of Queen's Bench.
  • Allum needs lesson on facts

    BRANDON -- If James Allum wishes to be taken seriously as minister of education and advanced learning, he would be wise to begin acting as if he takes his portfolio seriously. On an almost daily basis, he is asked questions by Opposition MLAs about the many problems facing Manitoba's education system and his response is almost always the same -- the Filmon Tories fired 700 teachers and the Pallister Tories voted against Bill 18 last year.
  • Pallister has right idea, wrong script

    BRANDON -- Politics is nothing more than a public argument between groups of citizens and, as in all arguments, the winner is often the one who gets the last word. That is why successful politicians and their parties never let an attack against them go without a firm response. They have learned that turning the other cheek may work in church, but it will get you killed in politics.
  • Seize property of johns, pimps

    BRANDON -- It is a story that again proves the need to drastically change the manner in which Canada addresses its prostitution problem. A Winnipeg courtroom was told recently a teenage girl was repeatedly injected with crystal meth by a man to keep her awake and working for days at a time for an escort service being run out of rooms in two city hotels.
  • Can Bokhari rise to the challenge?

    BRANDON -- Minutes after becoming Manitoba Liberal leader last October, Rana Bokhari declared her first priority was to build the party's membership base and bank account. She said "there's a lot of work to be done, but I'm up for the challenge." Six months have now passed and a growing number of party supporters are wondering if Bokhari was as prepared for the challenge as she claimed.
  • Fixed election dates compound voter fatigue

    BRANDON -- It is a problem democracies throughout the world are struggling with, and it will soon be Manitoba's problem. A number of studies have concluded "voter fatigue" exists and is a threat to the proper functioning of democratic systems of government. It can cause high voter disengagement and lower turnout, magnifying the electoral power of votes cast by supporters of extreme ideologies and issues.
  • Tories need some help from Grits

    BRANDON -- The value of public-opinion polling is not found in the numbers produced by a particular poll, but rather in the analysis of those numbers. In the absence of context and informed insight, the raw numbers in any poll can lead to conclusions that both mislead and misinform.
  • Wounds to credibility self-inflicted

    BRANDON -- The danger inherent in any political strategy is that it might look good on paper, but it is easy to go too far in its execution -- and political novices often don't realize they have gone too far until they are there. A good example of the hazard of a poorly conceived and executed strategy is a statement made by rookie Health Minister Erin Selby last week.
  • Selinger clings to Conawapa plan

    BRANDON -- Now Manitoba Hydro has admitted that a natural gas-fired electricity generating plant is a viable alternative to spending more than $11 billion on the proposed Conawapa generating station, will the Selinger government abandon its two-dam plan that will burden Manitobans with tens of billions of dollars in debt, dramatically increase hydro rates, cripple Manitoba's business competitiveness, and cause immense environmental and social harm? Don't count on it.
  • NDP's playbook is all about fear-mongering

    BRANDON -- In the world of politics, fear works -- and nobody knows that better than Manitoba's New Democrats. A report prepared by senior NDP campaign officials following the 2011 provincial election, which saw the party win its largest majority in its history, provides a fascinating insight into the devastating effectiveness of fear as a political tool.

About Deveryn Ross

Deveryn Ross joined the Free Press as a political columnist in 2011. His columns also appear in the Westman Journal and other community newspapers throughout Western Canada. He has also served as a columnist for the Brandon Sun, Brandon Today and several rural Manitoba newspapers.

Born and raised in Brandon, where he still resides, Deveryn has been active in politics at all levels for more than four decades. He has worked in various roles on dozens of election campaigns in several provinces and has provided strategic advice to elected officials and candidates from all major parties.

Deveryn holds a Juris Doctor degree from Dalhousie University and Bachelor of Arts from Brandon University, where he was awarded the medal in political science.
 

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