Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 03/10/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
The war on transparency
The so-called Fair Elections Act, which is being spearheaded by Pierre Poilievre, is one more example of throwing under the bus anyone who does not agree with the Conservative "win at all costs" political agenda (Electoral chief slams Tory bill's changes, March 7).
As noted in the article, Marc Mayrand, Canada's chief electoral officer, has been a thorn in the side of the Harper government since his appointment in 2007. And for what? For doing his job of ensuring elections in Canada are open, fair, and free of political interference of any kind.
Be it overspending, investigating fraudulent robocalls, urging the receipt of electoral expenses, or pushing for giving election investigators the power to compel testimony, Mayrand has been diligent in exercising his duties and responsibilities as Canada's chief electoral officer.
However, the current government does not take it kindly when anyone dares to speak truth to power.
Just like Kevin Page, Canada's former parliamentary budget officer, Mayrand is another casualty in the Conservative war against those who either question or challenge its "my way or the highway" approach to governing.
Infrastructure issues abound
The recent provincial budget claims one of its infrastructure projects will be to upgrade the intersection of Highway 59 and the Perimeter (PST cash boosts road repairs to $5.5B, March 6). The only real way to upgrade it properly would be to complete the cloverleaf at that intersection, a job that's long overdue and a reminder of the inadequacies of what are supposedly high-speed routes.
After the northeast section of the Perimeter Highway was finished at least a dozen years ago, the logical next step would have been to complete this cloverleaf. Instead, one of the existing lanes was actually closed down, leaving the area constantly plagued by long traffic backups resulting from poorly synchronized lights.
When one considers the Plessis Road underpass will be delayed at least eight months and it took the better part of two years to rebuild the 75-metre-long Sturgeon Road bridge, it will be a miracle if the cloverleaf gets done by 2020. While it will be a complex and costly structure, it won't get any cheaper with constant delays.
Columnist Deveryn Ross and his inspirers in the Opposition benches should explain how they would fund infrastructure improvement without revenue increases (NDP sinks Manitoba deeper in red, March 6).
No one ever saved his or her way to prosperity. It takes revenue generation -- for governments, that means taxes.
The NDP might have bungled the introduction of the PST tax increase, but they seem to have it figured out now. Let's see how they put their words into action before subjecting us to more of Ross' so-predictable musings.
Crunching the numbers
The Selinger government says $1.5 billion in PST revenue "will be added to the kitty" (PST cash boosts road repairs to $5.5B, March 6).
Coincidentally, the $1.5-billion figure is close to the amount Hydro will waste with its west-side Bipole III transmission line, ordered by Selinger.
It's also close to the $1.3 billion Hydro has spent on the Keeyask and Conawapa dams on the insistence of the Selinger government, even before the dams have been approved.
But Hydro says such expenditures shouldn't count in the present review of its $34-billion expansion plan because they are "sunk" costs.
It's just one more step forward, with two steps back.
Lack of access to water due to frozen pipes has become an increasingly difficult issue for our city to deal with, and I've seen it affect many in my community.
While our city has begun taking good measures to fix the problem, the issue should remind us how fortunate we are to have the access to water we do, and to take a closer look at some of the more pressing issues that will affect us in the near future.
Scientists predict that, should we in North America continue to use water so carelessly and wastefully as we do now, lack of fresh water will become something wars are fought over.
Re: Increasing pipe freeze-ups predicted, March 7.
Cost overruns, four new fire halls: $15-17 million.
Cost overruns, police headquarters: $75+ million.
Hundreds of properties without water: priceless.
I truly feel for those people suffering without one of the most essential elements of life, and pray I'm not next to suffer their fate.
Sovereignty vote could come
Why all the fuss about the citizens of Crimea going to the polls over whether they want to stay part of Ukraine (Crimeans to vote on joining Russia, March 7)?
We've faced two similar votes in Canada within the last 35 years. In 1980 a sovereignty-association vote was held in the province of Quebec, led by premier René Lévesque. Citizens defeated the question by a 60-40 margin.
In 1995, a straight sovereignty vote was held under another separatist premier, Jacques Parizeau, this one failing by a mere 51-49 margin.
Let's face it: if Pauline Marois and her Parti Québécois party get a majority government in the Quebec provincial election in April, we could very well see another vote on some sort of Quebec sovereignty within the next four years.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 10, 2014 A8
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