Dan Lett

  • Riverbank issue swept under rug

    It seemed like a good idea at the time. When European fur traders first occupied land at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, they understood proximity to waterways was good for transportation. Later, when settlers expanded the fur-trading post into a permanent community, they knew the rivers were good for agriculture.
  • City has finally decided it's time to talk

    When it comes to corporate communications at Winnipeg city hall, management has apparently decided it's time to go in a different direction. Councillors and city hall insiders found out late last week that Steve West, the city's longtime manager of corporate communications, will be moving to a new job. West will start serving as the manager of strategic initiatives within the corporate support services department on Aug. 4.
  • City unfolding as it should

    For a couple of weeks this summer, the City of Winnipeg's chief planner, Braden Smith, found himself in the news on a regular basis. And each time the Free Press wrote about him, the story was accompanied by a particular photo that showed Smith frowning despondently. That made sense given that the stories dealt with a series of decisions by councillors to reject recommendations from Smith's department. The photo seemed to be one of those images that completely captures the essence of a story.
  • Manitoba Liberals scoop up former PC spinner — now it's time to cash in

    It’s intriguing, but is it a game-changer? The Manitoba Liberals have hired Mike Brown, former director of communication for Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister. Brown will take over communications for Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari.
  • A thinly veiled attempt to curry voter favour

    It was watching Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre on television recently that got me to thinking about Anthony Hopkins. Well, not Hopkins per se, but rather his harrowing performance as serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the epic horror film The Silence of the Lambs. In particular, the scene where Hopkins/Lecter is trying to lure personal details out of FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) in exchange for information about another serial killer on the loose.
  • Seeds of city dysfunction are sown

    Although it has been said that everyone loves a circus, it seems nobody loves a circus more than Winnipeg city council. For most of the last month, Winnipeggers have been treated to a series of emotional outbursts, hyperbolic allegations and melodramatic performance art courtesy of Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, council's own ringmaster of mayhem.
  • Early election call a Tory strategy?

    It's a risky way to approach voters, many of whom understand that we live in a country where you can only count on having about 60 truly warm-weather days, and that those days come in July and August. It's also risky as far as your own party is concerned. Elected officials look forward to summer for two main reasons. First, just like other Canadians, politicians want to take advantage of what little warm weather this country offers. Second, after spending most of the other months slaving away in and around legislatures, summer is the time they reacquaint themselves with constituents -- something that helps elected officials get re-elected.
  • Province's flood procurement practices ripe for abuse

    Did embattled cabinet minister Steve Ashton cross the line when he tried to get a $5-million untendered contract for a company represented in Manitoba by a close personal and political friend? Ashton certainly doesn’t think so. And he has gone to some lengths to deny that he did anything wrong.
  • Tough time to be a Manitoba NDPer

    As the spring session of the Manitoba legislature comes to an end, it appears quite obvious now that in all of Canadian politics, there is no government facing more problems than Manitoba's NDP government. After nearly 16 years in power and four consecutive majority mandates the NDP finds itself bloodied by internal strife, riddled with controversy and saddled with a middling economy and a stubborn budget deficit. The most recent results from a Free Press-Probe Research poll show the NDP firmly rooted in second place, 17 points down from the front-running Progressive Conservatives.
  • Ontario’s critical-incident overhaul a lesson for NDP

    It was an important step forward in the chronic battle to force the health care system to admit more of its mistakes. Last week, Ontario's Liberal government announced it was overhauling a law that allowed the health care system to investigate medical errors - so-called "critical incidents" - in secret. The amendments would force hospitals to provide more information to the families of loved ones who died in care, and to post more information online for the public to make decisions about where to go for their health care.
  • Apology welcome, but doesn't excuse approach of controversial TRC column

    Bernie Bellan, publisher of Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News, will only say now that his decision to print Bill Marantz’s column was a mistake. Marantz, a former provincial court judge, wrote an angry tirade about the recent report from the Residential School Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which he renamed “the Half Truth and Recrimination Report.”
  • The political landscape is a-changing

    The closer we get to a federal election, the more likely it seems Canada's conventional political wisdom will be turned on its head. Last year, the federal political narrative was focused on the resurgence of the federal Liberal party under leader Justin Trudeau. The Liberals led in most opinion polls, and although reaction to his policies was mixed, Trudeau appeared destined to bring the Grits back from the brink of extinction.
  • Some positive news in ER data

    Another year, another woeful performance for Winnipeg's emergency rooms. Based on data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), patients attending Winnipeg ERs on average wait the longest to see a doctor and spend more overall time in the ER waiting to be admitted to hospital than most other hospitals.
  • Bowman misses chances to make change

    Mayor Brian Bowman may have promised Winnipeggers a new approach to governing when he was elected last fall, but so far he has had trouble escaping some of the mistakes that afflicted his predecessors. Case in point: a city committee recently recommended, yet again, homeowners shovel their own sidewalks. Coun. Janice Lukes, chairwoman of that committee, said it was time to reassess the more than $3 million spent annually on sidewalk clearing. "We should put the facts on the table about what it costs," Lukes said.
  • NDP's frayed lines of communication may be reason for wrongdoings

    What we may very well have here is a failure to communicate. Among the various explanations for the continuing eruption of controversies around Premier Greg Selinger and his NDP government is a strong indication that many people were either unable, or unwilling, to communicate effectively with each other.
  • Are we up to the challenge of rebooting history?

    Over the weekend, I happened across a TV show on trapping, sandwiched between HBO and the U.S. Open golf tournament. It was low-budget but graphic, with shots of animals being hauled out of rivers or dug out of the snow in the jaws of a trap. All the while, a trapper provided a running narration about the positive aspects of trapping.
  • Peguis First Nation finds a casino

    The Manitoba government has always maintained that it would not allow a First Nations casino to operate near or in Winnipeg. But there are signs that position may be changing. Peguis First Nation, which is involved in a joint venture with Assiniboia Downs, is trying to work out a deal to relocate the Aseneskak Casino on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas to land near Assiniboia Downs. Aseneskak is controlled by a limited partnership made up of the first nations of the Swampy Cree Tribal Council.
  • Peguis First Nation finds a casino

    The Manitoba government has always maintained that it would not allow a First Nations casino to operate near or in Winnipeg. But there are signs that position may be changing. Peguis First Nation, which is involved in a joint venture with Assiniboia Downs race track, is trying to work out a deal to relocate the Aseneskak Casino on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas to land near Assiniboia Downs. Aseneskak is controlled by a limited partnership made up of the first nations of the Swampy Cree Tribal Council.
  • Why has Selinger not disciplined his minister?

    Why weren’t the alarm bells going off for Premier Greg Selinger? In the wake of revelations that Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton tried to improperly obtain a $5-million untendered contract to buy Tiger Dam portable flood-fighting equipment to help Interlake First Nations, this has become the pre-eminent question surrounding the premier.
  • Thanks to Ashton, Selinger's political woes not over yet

    It was one of the more curious details to come out of the bitter NDP leadership battle. Cabinet minister Steve Ashton, who along with fellow cabinet minister Theresa Oswald was challenging Premier Greg Selinger for the leadership, had rented space for his campaign office in a Portage Avenue building owned by the Peguis First Nation.
  • Liberals, NDP trading places

    It's not quite time for the Hail Mary pass. However, it appears Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has decided to ramp up the risk and go deep in a bid to stop a precipitous slide in support.
  • 'Big step forward' not so big in reality

    It is rare in government you can say doing nothing is preferable to doing something. This, however, is one of those cases. Last week, Municipal Government Minister Drew Caldwell introduced a number of amendments to the Winnipeg Charter, the provincial law that governs the operations of our largest city. The changes included a requirement the city draft a code of conduct for councillors and all bodies created by council, and an extension of provincial whistleblower protections to municipal employees.
  • Time may be running out for Liberals

    Just six months ago, federal Liberals in this city could barely contain their excitement. After a decade in the political wilderness, it was time for them to rise again and assume power. Upon taking over the party in 2013, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals shot to the top of the polls. As late as last fall, the Grits seemed a legitimate threat to form government again.
  • Sober reflection needed on Senate expense scandal

    Thanks to the dogged work of federal Auditor General Michael Ferguson, Canadians now have gobs more information about not only how much money is being spent by the Senate of Canada, but also how badly it is being spent. What we still don’t know at this point is what to do about it.
  • Finding balance in disproportion

    Grand Chief Derek Nepinak has done the math and it just doesn't add up. There are more Manitoba aboriginal children in care now than ever before. Nepinak, head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said many of those children come from homes where at least one parent spent time in foster care. The same holds true for their parents' parents.


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