Dan Lett

  • It's all about helping good people

    I was still a young and quite inexperienced reporter when, on a frigid December night in 1989, I got to play Santa on Stella Avenue. I had arrived at the Free Press offices that afternoon for a night shift when my editor suggested I head out with photographer Phil Hossack to deliver hampers for the Christmas Cheer Board. I was game but also a bit concerned: Would those folks receiving Christmas charity want to talk about their circumstances?
  • Did he die in vain?

    Brian Sinclair did not have to die. You can search through the entirety of provincial court Judge Timothy Preston's remarkable, 190-page inquest report on Sinclair's 2008 death at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, but you will find no greater truth than that.
  • Hard times ahead for Bellegarde

    Could Perry Bellegarde be the last national chief of the Assembly of First Nations? Notwithstanding the quiet elegance of the blanket ceremony, the stirring celebratory songs and drumming and the dignified, triumphant procession by the grand chief through the convention centre hall Wednesday afternoon, there was no escaping the fact Bellegarde has inherited an organization on the brink.
  • Vote must mark new era of self-determination

    Walking through the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, it doesn't take long to realize the gathering of the Assembly of First Nations -- in town this week to elect a new national chief -- is less like a national political convention and more like a session of the UN General Assembly. It involves more than 1,700 delegates, including more than 400 chiefs or proxies from First Nations across the country. The convention hall and adjoining meeting rooms were abuzz with people speaking English, French and many tribal languages.
  • Teachable mayoral moments

    There is no evidence Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman was under any illusion leading this city would be easy. And yet, after the events of this week, you wonder if he ever thought it would be this tough. On Wednesday, one of Bowman's high-profile campaign pledges -- a plan to end all severance payments to councillors who either lose an election or retire -- was strongly rebuffed by executive policy committee (EPC).
  • Triumph of democracy marred by foul odour

    Following a meeting of the Manitoba NDP's 140-member provincial council Saturday -- at which rules were set for a leadership race and Premier Greg Selinger was allowed to remain in his post and fight for his job -- cabinet minister Ron Lemieux was overheard to say "democracy worked." Perhaps, but it's hard to argue that it worked well. The purpose of the meeting was to level the playing field between Selinger and his challengers. The result of the meeting was to more completely reveal the cracks that threaten to collapse the foundation of the once mighty NDP.
  • Selinger faced media glare but shed little light

    Politicians can try to hide from controversy. But sooner or later, events will conspire against reclusive elected officials, forcing them out into the harsh glare of public and media scrutiny. Such was the case Thursday when Premier Greg Selinger -- in the midst of a very public fight for his political life -- found himself standing all alone in front of 800 people at the annual state-of-the-province address organized by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
  • Leadership gong show focus of NDP confab

    This weekend, there is a very good chance the Manitoba NDP could finally take a step toward resolving the simmering leadership crisis that is threatening to consume the party. This Saturday in Winnipeg, there will be a meeting of the NDP's provincial council, a broad collection of party opinion leaders that includes two representatives from all 57 riding associations, the executive and other officials.
  • Leadership race a stacked deck

    Now that he's issued a challenge to all newcomers, will anyone actually run against Premier Greg Selinger for the leadership of the Manitoba NDP? The more we hear about the leadership process, it certainly makes you wonder whether anyone will have the time, money or inclination to launch a serious challenge.
  • Tories lose in battle with vets

    How many federal Conservative cabinet ministers does it take to hand out a news release? Well, if you're desperately trying to mend fences with a well-organized and sympathetic political constituency -- one that you have counted on as a central pillar in your core electoral support -- then you need six ministers to hand out a single news release.
  • Bowman sneaking under the radar thanks to NDP

    With the melodrama unfolding at the Manitoba legislature, you can be forgiven for having lost touch with Brian Bowman, Winnipeg's new mayor. Sworn into office just 14 days ago, Bowman is still very much in the transition stage of his mayoral term. In fact, at an editorial board meeting Tuesday at the Free Press News Café, Bowman explained he was "still learning how to use my office."
  • Labour has a lot at stake in NDP schism

    Of all the constituencies watching the NDP leadership crisis at the Manitoba legislature, none is as keenly interested as organized labour. After all, a great many of Manitoba's unions still maintain a close association with the NDP. In the event of a full-scale leadership campaign -- an option still being considered by an internal party rules committee -- as many as 200 delegates could be awarded to affiliated labour organizations.
  • What wasn't said speaks volumes

    Back in the old days, long before the NDP caucus room started to look like a Discovery Channel documentary on shark attacks, there was a predictable strategy used by government to promote its speech from the throne. Each fall, political staffers would reach out to journalists the day before the throne speech and mention that "such-and-such minister would like to talk about this and that." It was a targeted leak. Journalists loved them.
  • Redemption may be beyond Selinger's grasp

    With today's launch of the Manitoba legislature's fall session, Premier Greg Selinger can look forward to scrutiny unlike anything he has experienced during his five years in power. In prior fall sessions, Selinger needed only to worry about opposition barbs and presumptuous journalists.
  • NDP leadership details still murky

    THE emergency meeting of the executive of the Manitoba New Democratic Party this past weekend was supposed to provide a much-needed clarity and certainty to what had been a very unclear, uncertain crisis. And while some questions were answered, so many more questions are still left hanging over Premier Greg Selinger and the NDP government. We know for sure there will be a leadership race culminating in a vote at the NDP’s annual general meeting, to be held in Winnipeg in March. We also know that Selinger, under siege by party dissidents that want him to step down, will be a candidate in that race. Beyond those two facts, however, the situation remains pretty murky.
  • NDP leadership details still murky

    The emergency meeting of the executive of the Manitoba New Democratic Party this past weekend was supposed to provide a much-needed clarity and certainty to what had been a very unclear, uncertain crisis. And while some questions were answered, so many more questions are still left hanging over Premier Greg Selinger and the NDP government.
  • Adviser to premier sacrificial lamb

    In most provincial governments, a premier's political staff function a bit like a moat; they do their best to form an impenetrable barrier to keep out undesirable elements (read: journalists) and keep in sensitive and potentially damaging information. Political staff provide valuable advice to the premier on policy and strategy. In other words, they are the last check and balance for a first minister on any major decision.
  • Selinger and the lessons of history

    What does Premier Greg Selinger hope to gain by unleashing a long, bitter leadership campaign within his own party? History may hold the answer. Selinger issued a statement late Monday he wants to fight for his leadership against any and all challengers at the party's annual general meeting in March. "It's time to put this question of leadership into a democratic arena where I'm ready, willing and able to show why I was elected leader of the party," Selinger said.
  • Who's going to run the province during a leadership race?

    After more than a week of unprecedented mutiny in the ranks of the NDP government, it was, quite frankly, hard to imagine things getting much worse for Premier Greg Selinger and his party. But they have. Over the weekend, we were told Selinger had convinced the NDP executive to allow a leadership vote at the party's convention in March. Not a review of his leadership, but an open campaign for all those who wish to lead the party to run against Selinger.
  • Apologizing for breaking PST promise and admitting he forced it on cabinet may have saved premier

    "It was a decision I recommended (to cabinet) and we discussed and felt that of all the alternatives, this was the one that will allow us to meet Manitobans' priorities." -- Premier Greg Selinger in December 2013, discussing the decision to hike the PST to fund infrastructure.
  • Many mysteries behind motives still remain

    It can safely be said nobody in the NDP universe has ever seen Greg Dewar as a finance minister. That is no shot at Dewar, who has held his Selkirk seat for a remarkable 25 years. And who has served as a legislative secretary to the minister of finance, and become an opinion leader on finance matters in caucus, earning him the nickname "the fiscal hawk."
  • Opposition missing opportunity

    With the Battle on Broadway raging in NDP ranks, opportunity is knocking pretty hard right now for Manitoba's opposition parties. It is not clear, however, that the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals can answer that door.
  • Sorry state of affairs all around

    We are now a week into the bloody, messy clan war that has consumed the New Democratic Party of Manitoba and, remarkably, there is no end in sight. That's right, after a full week of open mutiny, we're pretty much exactly where we were when we first learned a good number of NDP MLAs and ministers want Premier Greg Selinger to step down before the next election.
  • Selinger's hopes of fixing rift a fantasy

    Stoic resolve or stubborn delusion? We may be debating for many years what it is that drove Premier Greg Selinger to take the stand he has taken his week. On Tuesday, Selinger finally responded to the torrent of criticism levelled at him from his own caucus over the past few days. It was a stunning turn of events. Just about everyone who had been following the story believed strongly that Selinger had only two choices: resign now or ask the party executive to hold a leadership convention, at which time he would resign.
  • NDP leader doesn't seem to know when jig's up

    In the world of political leadership, there are a few rules everyone has to live by. Surround yourself with people who are not only smarter than you, but who are unafraid to show you just how smart they are.

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