Dan Lett

  • Will turning their back on traditional debates harm or benefit the Conservatives?

    It appears there could be three times more debates between party leaders in the 2015 federal election campaign than in any previous campaign. A good thing, right? That depends on who you talk to. For the first time since 1968, a consortium of Canada’s principal broadcasters will not hold a monopoly on televised debates among party leaders. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have decided not to participate in the traditional English- and French-language debates organized by the consortium, preferring to appear in as many as five independently organized debates.
  • Where next the Orange Wave?

    How many shocking results does it take to make a real trend? Across the country, this is the question being asked about prospects for the New Democratic Party in the upcoming federal election, in particular following the NDP's surprising victory in the Alberta provincial election, a result beyond comprehension before Rachel Notley made it so.
  • Do we have courage to call what we did to indigenous peoples genocide?

    In the elegant confines of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the bias is pretty clear for all to see. The content in this government-run facility is robustly pro-Indian rights and unabashedly political. Elaborate displays of cultural art and culture are laid alongside shocking and graphic descriptions of seminal legal battles involving, and the atrocities committed against, indigenous peoples in the U.S.
  • Mayor must lay out plan if he wants citizens' support

    When it comes to the debate over infrastructure funding, Mayor Brian Bowman is definitely walking on the side of the angels. Bowman wants more money from the provincial and federal governments. He wants more municipal control over that money. He wants new, predictable sources of revenue that can reduce, if not eliminate, the need to hike property taxes year after year.
  • Trudeau tax plan a weak strategy

    These are risky times for federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Having led national opinion polls since becoming Grit leader in 2013, Trudeau and his party are now either tied or trailing the ruling Conservative party. And with the Tories out across the country trumpeting their most recent budget -- which featured reduced taxes and a surplus -- there is reason for the Liberals to worry.
  • Time right for sea change in Tory empire

    Let's get this straight. Voters in Alberta -- the land of black gold, sales-tax-free purchasing and prairie populist ideology -- turned the tables on their right-wing overlords to elect an NDP majority government that promised to raise taxes on corporations, the very rich and oil companies.
  • Alberta voters deliver clear message

    Let’s get this straight. Voters in Alberta — the land of black gold, sales tax-free purchasing and prairie populist ideology — turned the tables on their right-wing overlords to elect an NDP majority government that promised to raise taxes on corporations, the very rich and oil companies.
  • Wink-and-a-nod won't cut it with the public

    Why won't the NDP government come right out and say it wants to kill the balanced-budget law? This was one of the questions hanging in the air after last week's tabling of the 2015-16 provincial budget. Unfortunately, Finance Minister Greg Dewar and his government couldn't bring themselves to say it out loud.
  • Setting up jobbers to get squashed

    Professional wrestlers have a couple of terms they use to describe the skinny, unfortunate nobodies who are sent in to do battle with the bigger, stronger and fancier stars. These poor unfortunates are known as "squash boys" or "jobbers." Squash boys are tasked to put up a good fight against the better known fighters, but with the knowledge that, in the end, they would be squashed. Many squash boys or jobbers put in years getting squashed in the hopes of being picked as a future star.
  • Unflinching faith in a failed fiscal plan

    You could call this the “head in the sand” budget. No significant tax cuts or hikes. No huge increase in spending, or severe austerity. No dynamic new programs, no program cutbacks or eliminations. Not much of anything really.
  • Making the best out of a bad situation

    With relatively small changes, Premier Greg Selinger's cabinet shuffle managed to produce a whole lot of news. Selinger bid adieu to a veteran minister retiring from politics (Peter Bjornson), squeezed in two new faces (Mohinder Saran and Tom Nevakshonoff), adjusted the duties of two others (James Allum and Gord Mackintosh), welcomed back one leadership rival (Steve Ashton) and gave one of the mutineers from last fall's uprising (Theresa Oswald) a chance to return to cabinet. She turned him down.
  • Selinger's shuffle making the best of a bad situation

    With relatively small changes, Premier Greg Selinger’s cabinet shuffle managed to produce a whole lot of news. Selinger bid adieu to a veteran minister retiring from politics (Peter Bjornson), squeezed in two new faces (Mohinder Saran and Tom Nevakshonoff), adjusted the duties of two others (James Allum and Gord Mackintosh), welcomed back one leadership rival (Steve Ashton) and gave one of the mutineers from last fall’s uprising (Theresa Oswald) a chance to return to cabinet. She turned him down.
  • Ashton a shoo-in for shuffled cabinet, but rebels' fate in question

    Damned if he does. Damned if he doesn't. Those are the two scenarios facing Premier Greg Selinger as he contemplates changes to his cabinet in advance of the provincial budget.
  • Uhhh... about that deficit

    No one should be surprised Finance Minister Greg Dewar confirmed on Friday the NDP government would not be able to balance its budget by 2016-17, as previously promised. This was something we could see coming a long way off. Over the past year, the language used by the province went from “will,” to “still on track,” to “our goal remains,” to the admission it is no longer realistic.
  • Extraordinary measures used to create surplus add risk

    When you look at it, the budget delivered by Finance Minister Joe Oliver is nothing short of remarkable. A remarkable bit of fiction, but remarkable nonetheless.
  • Liberals' optimism belies harsh realities

    It was a great weekend to be a Grit. At a joint meeting of federal and provincial Liberals in Winnipeg, there were lots of high fives, standing Os and belly laughs. Provincial Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari delivered a competent luncheon speech; Nova Scotia Grit MP Scott Brison, a favoured orator on the Liberal speaker's circuit, reportedly knocked them dead at a Saturday keynote address.
  • Selinger playing favourites?

    The worst thing any politician can do in the midst of a controversy is leave obvious questions unanswered. Take Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman for example. The mayor continues to leave folks within and outside city hall wondering why he picked a very public fight with Mark Chipman and True North over a city-owned lot near the RBC Convention Centre.
  • Police chief needs to release report on cancelled 911 call if he wants public's trust

    Nearly one year ago, a man was gunned down outside a Winnipeg nightclub, 17 minutes after a 911 call was made asking police to break up a fight. During the past year, many questions have been raised about what happened that night. Chief among them, why the 911 dispatcher cancelled the original call for help. On Wednesday, Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis released a brief statement that concluded the "cancellation of the call had no bearing on the shooting."
  • Tories pursue an unbalanced strategy

    It appears federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver has all his ducks in a row, just a few weeks before delivering a pre-election budget. Thanks to an economic statement Oliver delivered last fall, we know the Conservative government will be offering significant tax cuts through its income-splitting scheme and enhanced tax credits for youth sports activities. The tax-cut pie was further sweetened last week when Oliver strongly hinted his government would double the tax-free savings limit to $11,000 per year.
  • The NDP caucus might be going to a retreat north of Winnipeg to try to heal

    Rumour has it on April 9, the Manitoba NDP caucus will attend a retreat at St. Benedict's Monastery north of Winnipeg where it is believed warring MLAs will attempt to finally bury the hatchet once and for all. It's just a rumour, of course, because officially, all matters relating to the NDP caucus are now highly confidential. In fact, it is currently easier to find Islamic State bunkers in Syria than it is to get an official comment on the exact time and place where MLAs will gather for some group hand-wringing and a couple of heartfelt choruses of Kumbaya.
  • 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.

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