Dan Lett

  • Pulling rails possible - but one certainty is feds would need to pony up

    Over the weekend, the Free Press published details of an ambitious, $1-billion plan to relocate rail yards and lines dividing Winnipeg, drafted by Winnipeg businessman and self-admitted railway junkie Art DeFehr. In DeFehr's plan, both the CP Rail lines through the north part of Winnipeg and CN's main line through the south would be rerouted on a single right-of-way to the south of the Perimeter Highway. The $1-billion cost would be offset by the sale of railway land and the bridges and underpasses that would no longer have to be built, repaired or replaced.
  • Interpretation of law yields comic results

    On April 16, Premier Greg Selinger will deliver a speech at the Manitoba legislature as part of a service marking Yom HaShoah, international Holocaust Remembrance Day. It's hardly unusual; political leaders are often asked to lend their gravitas to services during Yom HaShoah. If there is anything surprising about the premier's decision to attend and deliver a speech, it is that in doing so, he may be violating provincial law.
  • Interpretation of law yields comic results

    On April 16, Premier Greg Selinger will deliver a speech at the Manitoba legislature as part of a service marking Yom HaShoah, international Holocaust Remembrance Day. It's hardly unusual; political leaders are often asked to lend their gravitas to services during Yom HaShoah. If there is anything surprising about the premier's decision to attend and deliver a speech, it is that in doing so, he may be violating provincial law.
  • A penchant to self-destruct in full view

    You can say a lot of things about Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vic Toews. You could certainly say Toews was a successful politician, serving as a cabinet minister at both the federal and provincial levels.
  • City's rail lines the real problem

    This week, Winnipeg city council identified a $175-million underpass on Waverley Street -- needed to move commuters under a rail line south of Taylor Avenue -- as its most pressing infrastructure need. Think about that. Of all the infrastructure so desperately needed in Winnipeg, this grade separation is ranked as the No. 1 project when Winnipeg applies for federal support under the Building Canada Fund.
  • A handshake I'll never forget

    I couldn't tell you exactly where it was, or exactly when, that Janice Filmon shook my hand. I only know that I remember the handshake. It was a short time after Gary Filmon left politics, having lost the 1999 provincial election. I was at a reception prior to a charity dinner at a downtown hotel (all those ballrooms look alike) with my wife when I saw Gary and Janice across the room.
  • Brief encounter with Filmon left long-lasting impression

    I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was, or exactly when, that Janice Filmon shook my hand. I only know that I remember the handshake. It was a short time after Gary Filmon left politics, having lost the 1999 provincial election. I was at a reception prior to a charity dinner at a downtown hotel (all those ballrooms look alike) with my wife when I saw Gary and Janice across the room.
  • Courting seniors too expensive

    It would be nice if voters did not offer to sell their votes to politicians. But human nature being what it is, we all have our price. Consider senior citizens. They remain the most potent political constituency in this country for the simple reason that, having been raised in an era when civic responsibility was considered a big deal, they vote. Consistently. In large numbers. Therefore, any party that aspires to form government needs to court the senior vote.
  • Bowman's utopian vision of Winnipeg

    It would be wrong to doubt Mayor Brian Bowman's sincerity. From the moment last fall when he was sworn in as Winnipeg's mayor, Bowman has been a consistently uplifting force of nature. He has accepted the mantle of this city's symbol of hope, a civic leader who can take Winnipeg from its frequently moribund state and transform it into a new and dynamic urban centre of excellence.
  • Bowman's Utopian vision of Winnipeg

    It would be wrong to doubt Mayor Brian Bowman’s sincerity. From the moment last fall when he was sworn in as Winnipeg’s mayor, Bowman has been a consistently uplifting force of nature. He has accepted the mantle of this city’s symbol of hope, a civic leader who can take Winnipeg from its frequently moribund state and transform it into a new and dynamic urban centre of excellence.
  • Paramedic self-regulation won't help the public

    Paramedics are one important step closer to becoming a self-regulated profession. The question now is, what’s in it for the public?
  • Firefighter-paramedic rift harmful

    What if firefighters union boss Alex Forrest has put the cart before the horse? Recent headlines reported Forrest pledged the support of two dozen firefighter delegates to Premier Greg Selinger at the NDP leadership convention last weekend. And that Forrest's decision played a key role in allowing Selinger to retain his post.
  • Can the NDP kiss and make up?

    The Manitoba NDP has turned to some of its most accomplished parliamentarians to pave the way to a possible reconciliation between Premier Greg Selinger and his leadership rivals and their supporters. NDP sources confirmed former MLA and MP Bill Blaikie, former provincial cabinet minister Jean Friesen and party president Ovide Mercredi have been asked to form the core of a reconciliation committee. Their job would be to repatriate eight MLAs currently excluded from caucus and manage lingering resentment from the leadership campaign.
  • NDP election machine sputters to a halt

    Premier Greg Selinger has a lot on his mind these days. There are lingering wounds from a bitter leadership battle. The need to draft and deliver a budget in mere weeks amid economic uncertainty. And then there is the election.
  • Deal with firefighters will keep the heat on

    The messy civil war that has ravaged the NDP during the last five months was supposed to be over the moment a winner was declared in last weekend's leadership vote. That winner, Premier Greg Selinger, addressed the delegates and talked about how he wanted to get past the internal discord that saw him forced to fight for his job against two of his former cabinet ministers. He spoke of unity among the NDP "family."
  • Premier Pallister? It's really up to him

    There are no greater expectations in politics than those that accompany a can't-lose election. Just ask Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister. Now heavily into planning for the 2016 election, Pallister is fast approaching those can't-lose expectations.
  • Lesson in law of improbability

    There is no way to get around the fact Premier Greg Selinger's victory in Sunday afternoon's NDP leadership vote was, in its essence, improbable. Consider that just two hours before he was declared the winner, as New Democrats mustered for a second ballot, it seemed the stars were not aligning for Selinger.
  • Ashton's organizational prowess not enough in leadership race

    On his second attempt to capture the NDP leadership, Steve Ashton got a stern reminder that confidence and optimism cannot, in the end, overcome basic political mathematics. Just about everyone in the Manitoba NDP universe will tell you that Ashton, the veteran cabinet minister and MLA, is the party’s most effective organizer. He can sell memberships like nobody’s business. In fact, a lot of the reason why the NDP has an antiquated delegate system in its leadership is because so many in the party fear Ashton’s ability to overwhelm a one-member, one-vote system with new members.
  • Shuffling chairs in face of an iceberg

    If the NDP leadership race were a movie, which one would it be? Perhaps it's yet another instalment of the Die Hard franchise. You know, a story of guys blowing stuff up for the pure, gratuitous joy of it. There has certainly been lots of that in the NDP over the past four months or so.
  • Shuffling chairs in face of an iceberg

    If the NDP leadership race were a movie, which one would it be? Perhaps it’s yet another installment of the Die Hard franchise. You know, a story of guys blowing stuff up for the pure, gratuitous joy of it. There has certainly been lots of that in the NDP over the past four months or so.
  • Throwing away the key just throws away justice

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper is most definitely a man of his word. Even if keeping that word will have the effect of setting back Canada's justice system decades, if not centuries. On Wednesday, the prime minister kept a 2013 promise to eliminate parole for murderers who employ sexual assault, kidnapping and confinement, terrorism, the killing of police or corrections officers in their crimes, and first-degree murders found to be "of a particularly brutal nature."
  • What's missing is action

    Most Canadians understand government moves pretty slowly. It's the nature of a complex organization with competing interests (political versus administrative) and many different goals. In this context, it is often a good idea to go slow when citizens' money, or welfare, is at stake.
  • Win, lose, Selinger a no-go

    A week away from a historic gathering of the Manitoba New Democratic Party -- where a sometimes-bitter leadership race will be decided -- many questions still hang in the air. The most asked question is the also the most obvious one: Who is leading the leadership?
  • Li case exposes ugly truth about Tories

    The ugly truth has been revealed. Like many observers, I have always assumed the Conservative government's efforts to more harshly punish citizens found not criminally responsible for their crimes because of mental illness was part of a cynical but deliberate strategy to pander for votes.
  • Organized labour the key to NDP leadership

    After more than 50 delegate selection meetings, thousands of phone calls and too many twisted arms to count, the NDP leadership race has boiled down to the union vote. Most of the province's 57 NDP riding associations have now voted on which of the three leadership candidates they will support on the first ballot. Although each candidate has slightly different numbers, they mostly agree Steve Ashton leads with a small but comfortable margin over Theresa Oswald, who leads Premier Greg Selinger by another small margin.

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