Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Who runs the city today?

  • Print

If anything puts paid to the naive idea that politicians are bound to reflect the common good, it's their stubborn refusal to heed demands for a war on Manitoba's battered highways, streets and sidewalks. The major parties have made promises worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including more cops the city did not request and can't afford, yet their commitment to infrastructure has been anemic at best.

The political response would be adequate if the public was content to stumble on cracked sidewalks and drive across an obstacle course of ruts and potholes, but every survey has shown good infrastructure is a major priority. In fact, the problem is so severe that business groups, which normally abhor tax increases of any type, have recommended raising the sales tax.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce says the province should give the city the authority to implement a civic sales tax for infrastructure -- thus protecting the province from political fallout, if there was any, while holding the mayor and council accountable.

The Business Council of Manitoba, which represents Manitoba's leading captains of industry and commerce, has urged the province to raise the provincial sales tax by one point for 10 years, subject to public approval through a referendum, which is required by law.

The Infrastructure Funding Council advocated a longer-term plan that also included an increase in the PST.

Mayor Sam Katz wants even less -- just one point of the sales tax, in addition to existing commitments -- but it's also too much for the major parties, particularly the Conservatives and the New Democrats, who prefer to set the civic agenda, rather than allowing the mayor and council to run their own affairs.

In an interview with the editorial board of the Free Press Tuesday, Premier Greg Selinger said citizens don't want an increase in taxes in exchange for safer roads, but he had no surveys to back up that claim.

He noted that infrastructure is a problem across Canada, which is true, but hardly a justification for not tackling the problem in Manitoba.

Mayor Sam Katz told reporters he doesn't buy the argument that the province can't afford to spend more on infrastructure. If the Conservatives and the NDP can both make promises worth billions of dollars, he said, then they can find the money for infrastructure. It's just a matter of priorities.

"What's the point of investing more money into health care if ambulances can't navigate our roads?" Mr. Katz asked. "Why pledge more money for community centres if we can't even walk on our sidewalks?" Why, indeed.

The mayor added he didn't even want the province's money for community clubs and police if it was going to burden the city with new costs.

But Selinger said his promises to the city come with permanent funding, as do many of the pledges from Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen. It means whoever is elected, the province will assume greater and greater responsibility for programs and services, such as policing, that were mostly managed by the city in the past.

In other words, if you don't like public transit, or police and paramedic response times, if you don't like driving on dangerous roads, well, don't call your councillor, call the people on Broadway. They've found a way to garner votes in Winnipeg, while blurring the lines of accountability.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 28, 2011 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


150+ dead in France plane crash, cause unknown

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos


Are you planning to go visit the new polar bear, Humphrey, at the Assiniboine Park Zoo?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google