Deveryn Ross

  • Harper's words a gift for opponents

    BRANDON -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants his government's management of Canada's economy to be the ballot-box issue in this October's federal election. He should be careful what he wishes for. The PM argues his government deserves credit for the nation's economic performance over the past decade, and only he can be trusted to safely lead us through fiscal challenges that threaten the nation's finances. It is an assertion that helped carry him to victory in past elections, and there are those who contend recent economic instability will only strengthen his case in the coming campaign.
  • Who's behind Ashton scandal?

    BRANDON -- Cui bono? It's a Latin legal phrase that asks "to whose benefit?" It suggests the person responsible for an act or event is the person who stands to gain from it. The concept has helped explain the motive for countless crimes over the centuries, but the person who appears to benefit most is not always the perpetrator, but rather a scapegoat. Which brings us to the explosive allegations being made against Premier Greg Selinger and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
  • Lack of leadership from all three parties on TRC

    BRANDON — In a country with a four-century history of making bad decisions in its relationship with its indigenous peoples, is it really surprising that Canada’s leaders would squander the opportunity to finally make a good one? On Tuesday, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a summary of its findings following a six-year study of the nation’s residential school program. The commission concluded the schools were a key component of a national policy of cultural genocide, and made 94 recommendations aimed at both repairing the damage and putting Canada on a path toward reconciliation.
  • RCMP got lucky in Kemnay shooting

    BRANDON — Was the outcome the result of good training and a well-executed plan by well-equipped officers, or a matter of luck that could have just as easily gone horribly wrong? That is the question that must be asked in the aftermath of last weekend’s shooting of an RCMP officer outside of Brandon. At suppertime last Friday night, the RCMP were called to a domestic disturbance at a home in Kemnay, a village seven miles west of Brandon. News reports indicate that two officers initially approached the home, with one officer going to the door while the other remained near the garage on the property. The officer who went to the door then walked away from the home and returned with a rifle that he was loading by the garage when shots rang out.
  • NDP decides to blame the PM

    BRANDON -- It is a response that gets your attention, if only for its remarkable audacity. When asked for his impression of Tuesday's federal budget, Manitoba Finance Minister Greg Dewar told reporters he was disappointed. He complained lowering the minimum amount seniors must withdraw each year from their retirement savings accounts, while doubling the amount Canadians can contribute to tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), will cost the provincial treasury up to $9 million this year.
  • Time to pull up tracks in Brandon?

    BRANDON -- The issue of relocating rail lines within Winnipeg has received a great deal of media attention during the past few weeks, but the more pressing need and greater opportunity lies in Brandon, where the issue is being largely ignored. Brandon owes its existence to rail traffic -- indeed, its location was chosen by Canadian Pacific Railway planners. But the city is now divided by CP and CN tracks that run through it.
  • Shortchanging special needs

    BRANDON -- There are either more kids with special needs in Manitoba's schools or the number is going down. The province's Education Department has either changed the classification criteria for special-needs kids or it hasn't. There is either a cap on special-needs funding or there isn't. School divisions across the province either know how to complete special-needs funding applications or they don't.
  • Dancing with the enemy unlikely

    BRANDON -- How do porcupines mate? Very carefully, and only when absolutely necessary. It's an old joke, but an apt metaphor for discussions that will likely occur between NDP leadership candidates Steve Ashton, Theresa Oswald, Greg Selinger or their emissaries over the next several days.
  • NDP truce talks too little, too late

    Brandon -- We may now have a better idea of what Gord Mackintosh was up to last week, when he announced he has been approached by representatives of Greg Selinger and Theresa Oswald to broker a truce between the two warring factions. He told the media that "there are deeply held and divided camps that have to come back together. There has to be forces at work to achieve that."
  • Selinger's lose-now, lose-later strategy

    BRANDON -- When former premier Gary Doer stepped down to become Canada's ambassador to the United States, he said that "if you ever get a chance in this job to go out on your own timing, you'd better take advantage of it." He then added, "I think it's important that you go out on your own terms as an individual, but you also go in a way that allows your party to renew and the government to renew."
  • Ashton's referendum a savvy idea

    BRANDON -- His critics have slammed his plan as a flip-flop, but Steve Ashton's promise to hold a referendum regarding the controversial PST hike is a solid political strategy that has the potential to lift the NDP from its polling doldrums and cause problems for the Opposition Progressive Conservatives and Liberals. Ashton promises that, if elected as leader of Manitoba's New Democratic Party, he will give Manitobans the opportunity to decide whether to keep, scrap or revise the PST increase. "If I'm elected... one of the first moves that I will make is to allow Manitobans to have their voice through a referendum on the PST," he said.
  • 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.

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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