Deveryn Ross

  • Selinger throws a Hail Mary for votes

    BRANDON -- It is a fiscal fantasy plan; a drunken-sailor spending scheme that, if fully implemented, would make the "temporary" 2013 PST hike permanent and require additional tax increases at both the provincial and local level. Worse still, it would result in billion-dollar annual deficits and quickly catapult the provincial debt beyond $40 billion, eventually necessitating civil service layoffs and the rationing of vital services.
  • Brandon faces tidal wave of rate increases

    BRANDON -- It is an issue that was ignored for too long, but has grown too big to be ignored any longer. Water and sewer rates are about to jump in Brandon. Under a proposal submitted by the City of Brandon to the Public Utilities Board, an average family will see their cost increase by more than 44 per cent during the next five years.
  • Pallister Tories need to show caring side

    BRANDON -- It's a big problem, with little time to fix it. For the past 18 months, Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister and his MLAs have devoted a great deal of time and energy toward dispelling the Selinger government's accusation the Manitoba Tories are a collection of fiscal hawks and social intolerants who neither understand nor care about the needs of minorities, aboriginals and the poor; that a Pallister government would impose austerity measures that would cost thousands of civil servants, teachers and nurses their jobs, depriving Manitoba families of services they desperately need.
  • Give TPP a fair hearing

    BRANDON -- Perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. Perhaps we ought to read the fine print before we pass judgment on a deal that could have sweeping ramifications for the Canadian economy for decades to come. Two days before the federal election campaign was launched, I wrote that the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations could have a game-changing impact on the course and outcome of the election.
  • Selinger's NDP can't be counted out yet despite recent opinion polls

    BRANDON — Earlier this week, it was reported that a detailed poll recently commissioned by the Manitoba NDP found that province-wide support for the party has plummeted to slightly better than 20 per cent, and was below 20 per cent when the premier’s name was mentioned to respondents. That is a significant drop in support since June, when Probe Research determined that the party was at 29 per cent throughout the province, and 34 per cent in Winnipeg. With the numbers identical to those found by Probe in March, it appeared that the NDP had found its base level of support. If this new poll is accurate — the latest Probe numbers will be released in the next few days — it suggests that what appeared to be the NDP’s “base” has crumbled by one-third in just three months.
  • Tories split from within on refugee crisis

    BRANDON -- During his time in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has earned a well-deserved reputation for exploiting the weaknesses of his opponents and sowing division within their ranks. It is no small irony, then, that he has caused a growing rift in his own Conservative party on an issue he sought to exploit against New Democrats and Liberals. The Harper government's response to the Syrian refugee crisis has been attacked by opposition parties, premiers, mayors and the public, but criticism is now emerging from an unexpected direction -- from within his Conservative supporters.
  • Strategic calculus might lure Selby

    BRANDON -- It is a political script worthy of Machiavelli, featuring a player who is no stranger to such schemes. Southdale NDP MLA Erin Selby is being courted by the federal NDP to be the party's candidate in the Saint Boniface-Saint Vital riding. Reports have emerged of polling being done in the riding to ascertain how much support she has, and NDP leader Tom Mulcair has hinted at a pending announcement of a star candidate.
  • Harper's small-ball strategy

    BRANDON -- What is the prime minister up to? With the nation falling into recession and both unemployment and the cost of living rising, why is he making promises that will only resonate with small fractions of the electorate and, in the case of his stance against marijuana legalization, may run contrary to the opinion of most Canadians? Last Sunday, Stephen Harper announced a re-elected Conservative government would make it a crime for Canadians to travel to designated regions within foreign countries where terrorist entities such as ISIS are engaged in hostile activities.
  • Harper's Hail Mary strategy

    BRANDON -- It was a bold choice, but we won't know until mid-October if it was the right choice. Reaction to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament and launch Canada's longest federal election campaign since 1872 has been hailed by some as a tactical masterstroke that enables the ruling Conservatives to maximize the electoral advantages that come with having millions more to spend than their rival parties.
  • 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.

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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