Dan Lett

Dan Lett

Columnist

Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.

No really, it was his earliest dream, one that possessed him since he was a kid. He carefully studied every episode of Lou Grant, watched All the President’s Men repeatedly and memorized Humphrey Bogart’s concluding monologue from Deadline USA.

As you can imagine, Dan did not have many friends growing up. That’s what happens when no one on the playground will go “on the record.”

Since arriving in Winnipeg, he has worked at Free Press bureaus covering every level of government — from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa. And he has seen some stuff.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, was trapped in a riot with Imelda Marcos, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed two borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could ever hope for.

He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations. Other awards include winner of the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Dan’s principal beat now is politics, but he also dabbles in justice and youth sports. He also devotes time to programming content at the Free Press News Café.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often, but no longer pines to live there.

Recent articles of Dan Lett

Deal flushes Pallister-caused clog in sewage-treatment plant upgrades

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Deal flushes Pallister-caused clog in sewage-treatment plant upgrades

Dan Lett 4 minute read Yesterday at 7:00 PM CDT

After more than a year of intergovernmental limbo, the provincial and federal governments have struck a $500-million deal with the City of Winnipeg to fund the second phase of upgrades to the North End sewage treatment plant, the Free Press has learned.

Premier Heather Stefanson is expected to join Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and federal officials on Tuesday morning to confirm the Phase 2 funding deal.

Sources confirmed Ottawa will contribute approximately $200 million for Phase 2 — which will add bio-solids processing to the project — with the province providing $160 million and the city completing this stage of the project with a $133-million contribution of its own.

In total, the planned sewage plan upgrades will cost nearly $1.9 billion. Phase 3 — a controversial $828-million proposal to add technology to remove nutrients from the sewage plant outflow that contribute to algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg — is not yet in place.

Yesterday at 7:00 PM CDT

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Phase one construction for the north end sewage treatment plant in Winnipeg.

Outsiders’ gripes aside, no need to alter rules for mayor’s cabinet

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Outsiders’ gripes aside, no need to alter rules for mayor’s cabinet

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

A mayoral election could be — perhaps should be — an opportunity to make structural changes in the way council and city hall works. Lamentably, few candidates take advantage of that opportunity.

Not that the issues and pledges raised in this campaign are insufficient to inspire interest; in fact, this campaign has produced more reasonable-to-good ideas than other mayoral races have. It’s just that ideas about how to make council work better seem to be few and far between.

And of the ideas that do come forward, most skew to the naive and ineffective end of the impact spectrum. Like the endless fascination with changing Executive Policy Committee.

EPC is correctly described as the mayor’s cabinet, an executive-level gathering of councillors who work closely with the mayor to implement ideas and manage issues. Currently, that includes six councillors serving as chairs of civic committees, the deputy mayor and the acting deputy mayor.

Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Executive Policy Committee (EPC) meets at city hall in Winnipeg Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Reporter: ?

Tax policy key to unlocking minimum-wage debate

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Tax policy key to unlocking minimum-wage debate

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

It’s never a good idea to start off by saying a story published in this newspaper isn’t really news, but I’m going to do it anyway: the disagreement between labour and business on a new minimum wage is one of the least surprising stories of the summer.

For all the right reasons, labour wants people to reap more for their hard work; business is just as justified in its desire to keep labour costs at a reasonable level. The fact that both sides are right is not, however, creating any consensus.

The Manitoba minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $12.35/hr in October, but there is pressure, with inflation running white hot, to go even further. If the Progressive Conservative government wants to do that, it has to make an announcement by (ironically) Labour Day.

Labour representatives would like to see it rise to $16.15/hr, which they argue is a living wage in Manitoba. Business types are opposed, claiming it would cripple industries that rely on minimum-wage labour.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - .15cents, illustration for minimum wage story. See Alex Paul’s story re: Provincial changes to the minimum wages paid here. - May 15, 2017

Project Dioxide data price tag raises further questions

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Project Dioxide data price tag raises further questions

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

What price would you put on the public’s right to know the details of a secret RCMP investigation into former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz and other key figures involved in questionable multimillion-dollar real estate and land development transactions?

The value for the taxpaying public would be priceless. Manitoba Justice, on the other hand, is willing to turn over the information for the low, low price of $32,000.

That was the fee estimate it put on the release of information about Project Dioxide, an RCMP investigation into real estate transactions including the construction of four Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service stations. The projects all involved Shindico Realty, a firm owned by Sandy Shindleman, a close personal and business friend of Katz (mayor from 2004-14) and former city chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl.

The fee is excessive, punitive and suggests Manitoba Justice has something embarrassing or compromising to hide from public view. That something may explain why, after years of police investigation, prosecutors decided not to file charges against anyone involved in the deals.

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shindico’s new office building on Waverly and Taylor has many hightech features including geothermal heating and sensors that turn lights and heat on and off in rooms depending on the presence of people. 050425

Tories see no monkeypox, speak no monkeypox

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Tories see no monkeypox, speak no monkeypox

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

On Thursday, the same day the United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency, and a full two weeks after the World Health Organization categorized the outbreak as a global health emergency, health officials in Manitoba opted to embrace a strategy of complete and utter silence.

Manitoba did develop a protocol in June to immunize anyone who had confirmed contact with a confirmed case. But since then, we’ve had no public warnings or education, no news briefings to describe the threat level in Manitoba or to reveal the level of preparedness in the public health system.

At this stage, we don’t know how much vaccine Manitoba has and whether it has any chance of getting more should monkeypox officially get out of hand.

In the face of a new public health threat, we got silence. Deathly, incomprehensible silence.

Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue), cultured in the laboratory that was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Md. The World Health Organization recently declared the expanding monkeypox outbreak a global emergency. It is WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal. (NIAID via AP)

Stefanson takes step north to open distance on Pallister

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Stefanson takes step north to open distance on Pallister

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

A lot of people, both inside and outside the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party, have been urging Premier Heather Stefanson to move quickly to forge a new brand and break free of the legacy of her predecessor.

To date, Stefanson hasn’t put much distance between herself and Brian Pallister. But, in fairness, the actual task of rebranding is a lot more difficult and complex in reality than it is in theory.

Stefanson cannot deliver seismic change too far outside the comfort level of core party supporters. On the other hand, without some sort of new approach, the Tories won’t recapture support it has lost from non-core voters necessary to form government.

What’s a premier to do? How about dedicating public funds to address a priority — one easily defended to voters of all party affiliations — that was systematically ignored by your predecessor?

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

To date, Premier Heather Stefanson hasn’t put much distance between herself and Brian Pallister.

Pope’s omission proof of long way still to go

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Pope’s omission proof of long way still to go

Dan Lett 5 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

After a week of carefully crafted apologies for the Roman Catholic church’s role in residential schools, Pope Francis decided to save his most intriguing comments to last.

On a July 30 flight from Iqaluit to Rome following a six-day tour of Canada, Francis finally conceded the residential schools system amounted to “genocide.” Although he apologized repeatedly for the Church’s role in that system, to that point he had not uttered the term genocide.

In an exchange with reporters on the plane, Francis noted he had used words like “assimilation” and “colonization” and “cultural destruction,” all of which the pontiff argued amounted to the same assessment.

“It’s true that I did not use the word because I didn’t think of it. Yes, genocide is a technical word, but I did not use it because I did not think of it. But … yes, it was a genocide, yes, yes, clearly. You can say that I said it was a genocide.”

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022

After a week of carefully crafted apologies for the Roman Catholic church’s role in residential schools, Pope Francis decided to save his most intriguing comments to last.

On a July 30 flight from Iqaluit to Rome following a six-day tour of Canada, Francis finally conceded the residential schools system amounted to “genocide.” Although he apologized repeatedly for the Church’s role in that system, to that point he had not uttered the term genocide.

In an exchange with reporters on the plane, Francis noted he had used words like “assimilation” and “colonization” and “cultural destruction,” all of which the pontiff argued amounted to the same assessment.

“It’s true that I did not use the word because I didn’t think of it. Yes, genocide is a technical word, but I did not use it because I did not think of it. But … yes, it was a genocide, yes, yes, clearly. You can say that I said it was a genocide.”

Epidemiologists told us so, but we keep letting COVID rule our lives

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Epidemiologists told us so, but we keep letting COVID rule our lives

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

When governments around the world started to eliminate social and economic pandemic restrictions earlier this year, it was based on a common-held dream: with vaccinations and higher levels of natural immunity through infections, we could fight off COVID-19 and return to a more or less normal life.

COVID-19, we were told, would evolve into a nuisance much like the common cold. In other words, although unpleasant, it was something we could certainly live with.

Epidemiologists and public health experts denounced this dream, and warned that doing nothing to control the spread of COVID-19 would plunge us into an endless pandemic as new variants became more aggressive and successful at evading natural or vaccine-induced immunity. They cautioned that COVID-19, even though it sometimes produces mild symptoms, would make us feel very, very sick.

On behalf of those who offered those warnings, I offer a simple but powerful message: they told you so.

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

From the beginning of the pandemic, the public was told to get vaccinated. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press files)

Calling gross misconduct on hockey’s toxic culture

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Calling gross misconduct on hockey’s toxic culture

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

It was just one game, but it spoke volumes about hockey’s toxic culture.

It was a pre-pandemic showcase game featuring some of the province’s top U-16 players, and emotions were running high right from the opening puck drop. An on-ice official for most of my life, I was assigned to work the game as one of two linespersons.

Three minutes into the game, a scrum ensued. I hustled down to the “hot spot” and got my not insubstantial 6-2 frame between a huge kid — easily three or four inches taller than me — and a much smaller, but more vocal, kid.

“What are you gonna do about it, you faggot!” the smaller kid screamed at the bigger kid, with me standing in the line of fire.

Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

To understand just how little Hockey Canada in particular, and the hockey community in general, have done to address toxic culture, you need only look at what the organization pledged to do on Monday, when it released an action plan for receiving, overseeing and publicizing instances of abuse of all kinds.

Ghosting voters cardinal sin for politicians

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Ghosting voters cardinal sin for politicians

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

There are few things a politician can do to anger the electorate more than promising publicly to meet with someone or some group and then ghosting them. It’s the kind of betrayal that can tarnish a government’s reputation and sink a political career.

If two recent examples are any indication, it’s a long-standing betrayal that remains in practice today.

The first example involves Health Minister Audrey Gordon. In April, she generated headlines with a plan to travel throughout her Southdale riding with an actual couch that she would plop down in parks and other public spaces to have unscripted, unscheduled conversations with constituents.

The plan was heavily debated, with some squirming at the awkward idea of a front-bench cabinet minister perched on a couch in a park. Others applauded her efforts to try something different to engage with residents of Southdale, a constituency that current polling shows is very much in play.

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Health Minister Audrey Gordon has not held a single couch session since making the promise more than three months ago.

Spotlight on catalytic converters seeks to erase black market

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Spotlight on catalytic converters seeks to erase black market

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

It is well-known whatever government does — even the obvious, much-needed and totally justified things — someone will be unhappy about it. We need look no further for proof than Manitoba’s recent efforts to combat the black market for catalytic converters.

On Monday, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen confirmed new regulations to force dealers in auto parts, scrap metal and metal recycling to collect more information from anyone selling a catalytic converter.

Now, anyone purchasing a catalytic converter will have to photograph the seller, the vehicle they are using, their photo identification and details of how they came to own the exhaust emission control device.

The theory is asking for sellers to fully identify themselves or prove ownership will make it harder for thieves to sell stolen converters, thus curbing such criminal efforts.

Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

Winnipeg mayoral candidates living in a dream world

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Winnipeg mayoral candidates living in a dream world

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

After listening to all of the promises uttered by mayoral candidates ahead this fall’s civic election, it’s not hard to believe a new and improved Winnipeg is within our grasp.

Imagine a city with EV-charging stations at every civic facility. And, what about grounding the police helicopter in favour of new police ground-level teams that would stamp out violent crime?

Let’s not forget safe-consumption sites for drug addicts to reduce overdoses and get more people into treatment and out of a life of crime that’s needed to feed their habit. And while we’re at it, how does hundreds of millions of dollars for youth recreation facilities and programs sound?

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
It would not be an exaggeration to say that city hall has long been the place where good ideas go to die.

Tory government betting on wrong numbers

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Tory government betting on wrong numbers

Dan Lett 5 minute read Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

It is often said, in the heat of political battle, combatants have the right to their own opinions but they do not have the right to their own version of the facts.

When it comes to the debate over the future of Manitoba Hydro, that essential principal seems to have eluded the Progressive Conservative government.

For several years, the Tories have attempted to severely limit Public Utilities Board authority over Hydro rate applications. Former premier Brian Pallister and current Premier Heather Stefanson both introduced legislation that would essentially gut any hope of an independent review and give cabinet new authority to control rates.

When asked why, both Pallister and Stefanson and their ministers have repeatedly claimed the cost to Hydro for a PUB rate application hearing is $10 million annually, an expense that was, in and of itself, driving up electricity rates.

Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS FILES
The Tories have repeatedly claimed the cost to Hydro for a PUB rate application hearing is $10 million annually, an expense that was, in and of itself, driving up electricity rates.

No place for politics behind wheel of crime of opportunity

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No place for politics behind wheel of crime of opportunity

Dan Lett 5 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

The Winnipeg Police Service recently did an excellent job of acknowledging carjackings — the oft-violent theft of an occupied vehicle — are on the rise.

Police confirmed last week, in the first four months of 2022, there have been 59 reported carjackings. It is a pace that far exceeds the last three years, when the city logged an average of 120 occupied vehicle thefts annually.

WPS also did a good job of explaining it believes the spike in carjackings was due to increased “desperation” among those with substance abuse problems.

Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Canada Day good time for change

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Canada Day good time for change

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

This is apparently what happens when you cancel fireworks on Canada Day.  

The tri-lateral organization that oversees the land and facilities at The Forks has drawn criticism for “reimagining” its July 1 programming this year to include a new focus on Indigenous people and reconciliation. 

There will still be a lot of content familiar to fans of the nation’s birthday: Folklorama-inspired multi-cultural events and demonstration, lots of child-friendly activities, and a Manitoba African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. And, for the first time, Canada Day at The Forks will feature prominently Indigenous healing ceremonies, powwow dancers and drummers.  

However, what “New Day at The Forks” won’t have is fireworks, a Canada Day staple.  

Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

TREVOR HAGAN / FREE PRESS FILES
“New Day at The Forks” won’t have fireworks, a Canada Day staple.

Murray entry makes good mayoral race better

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Murray entry makes good mayoral race better

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022

Now that former mayor Glen Murray has officially entered the 2022 Winnipeg race — a madcap affair featuring 11 registered candidates — we can be sure of only one thing.

It’s not going to be dull.

The mercurial Murray, who has spent the last few years working in Winnipeg as a consultant, has a wealth of political experience. Under the category of “former,” he has been mayor of Winnipeg (1998-2004), a federal Liberal candidate, Ontario member of provincial parliament, Ontario cabinet minister, Ontario Liberal leadership candidate and federal Green party leadership candidate.

Retracing his steps to Winnipeg city hall may seem like an odd choice at this stage in his career. But if his performance at a casual campaign launch Wednesday in the city hall courtyard is any indication, he does not lack ideas or passion.

Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Former mayor Glen Murray arrives at city hall on Wednesday afternoon to submit his registration papers to enter the 2022 mayoral race.

Long way to go between current poll, future results

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Long way to go between current poll, future results

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

For NDP Leader Wab Kinew, the most recent Free Press-Probe Research poll results contain both good and bad news.

The good news is, well, pretty darn good. The early June survey showed the NDP out in front of the governing Progressive Conservatives and Premier Heather Stefanson with a comfortable 10-point lead provincially — and an alarmingly high 27-point lead in Winnipeg, where most elections are decided.

The good news continues when you look at key regions and demographics: Kinew has the highest approval rating of any of the three main party leaders; the New Democrats are very popular with women in Winnipeg (a key electoral group); the NDP enjoys gaudy leads in both southwest and southeast Winnipeg, two areas of the city where Tories currently dominate but which appear to be lining up as potential gains for the NDP.

Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
NDP Leader Wab Kinew has the highest approval rating of any of the three main party leaders.

New poll pushes Stefanson further behind eight ball

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New poll pushes Stefanson further behind eight ball

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

There is no debate: Premier Heather Stefanson is leading a government headed towards electoral disaster. The big question for Progressive Conservatives is whether she can somehow turn things around in the roughly 17 months she has left.

According to the most-recent Free Press/Probe Research poll results — a survey of 1,000 Manitobans conducted in the first two weeks of June — the hill Stefanson must climb to triumph in the fall 2023 election has gotten even steeper.

If an election were held today, 45 per cent of respondents would vote NDP, with 35 per cent supporting the Tories and 13 per cent voting Liberal. (According to Probe, with a sample of 1,000, one can say with 95 per cent certainty the poll results are within plus/minus 3.1 percentage points. The margin of error is higher within each of the survey’s population sub-groups.)

Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Fiscal windfall could be political downfall

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Fiscal windfall could be political downfall

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2022

The Progressive Conservative government of Manitoba is about to receive a billion dollars worth of good financial news from a most unusual source: Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask generating station.

Thanks to geo-political events and higher-than-average water levels, Hydro is on the verge of one of its most successful years. Ever.

Historic snowfall and relentless spring rains have pushed river and lake levels to the brim, providing more than enough water to drive the turbines at all of Hydro’s generating stations, including the seven new units at Keeyask. That will generate enough electricity to boost exports to levels not seen in more than a decade.

However, that’s not all. The spot market Hydro is selling into is red hot.

Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2022

MANITOBA HYDRO
Keeyask generating station. Ever since 2016, the Tories have been bludgeoning the NDP for cost overruns at Keeyask and the accompanying Bipole III transmission line.

World changes, Winnipeg traffic woes remain same

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World changes, Winnipeg traffic woes remain same

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jun. 13, 2022

I had a dream the COVID-19 pandemic, whenever it started to recede, would reinvent our approach to urban transportation.

I dreamt of a world in which our morning and afternoon commutes were not choked with single-passenger vehicles. A world where hybrid working arrangements slashed rush-hour vehicle volume and reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions to stave off the ravages of climate change.

It would be a world where more Winnipeggers would use the southwest corridor bus rapid transit line that extends to the University of Manitoba and, in so doing, create a clear and compelling case for more BRT development.

And, perhaps, a world where Winnipeg’s notoriously aggressive and discourteous drivers simply took their foot off the gas pedal and waved the car in front of them to change lanes with no recrimination.

Monday, Jun. 13, 2022

MIKE SUDOMA / Winnipeg Free Press Late afternoon traffic waits at a red light on McPhillips St Monday. August 23, 2021
MIKE SUDOMA / Winnipeg Free Press Late afternoon traffic waits at a red light on McPhillips St Monday. August 23, 2021

No excuse for premier skipping Pride parade

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No excuse for premier skipping Pride parade

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

Listening to Premier Heather Stefanson attempting to explain her decision to skip the Pride parade last weekend in Winnipeg, I could not help but think of actor John Belushi.

Bear with me.

Stefanson is under fire from Pride Winnipeg for not walking in the annual march in support of the city’s LGBTTQ+ community June 5. Although she did speak at a pre-parade rally, organizers said the Tory premier was told repeatedly: every politician who is allowed to address the rally is required to march in the parade.

It’s both or nothing.

Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

Premier Heather Stefanson speaks at the Pride rally. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Shaky Crown performance in police trial shakes trust in justice system

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Shaky Crown performance in police trial shakes trust in justice system

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Did the Crown take a dive?

There are many questions swirling around the recent acquittal of Winnipeg Police Service Sgt. Sean Cassidy, who, while off-duty, had been accused of chasing down landscaper Jamie Cote, pulling him from his vehicle and attacking him.

What exactly happened between the two men in La Salle where the confrontation began? Who chased whom on the highway into Winnipeg? How much force was used to get Cote out of his vehicle?

All those pale in comparison to the biggest concern hovering over this case: was this a prosecution deliberately designed to fail?

Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
This is not the first time the potential prosecution of a police officer fell apart. The justice system continues to demonstrate a chronic inability to prosecute police accused of criminal wrongdoing.

Tory cabinet minister’s exit may be sign of things to come

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Tory cabinet minister’s exit may be sign of things to come

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jun. 6, 2022

It’s not a stampede yet. But it will have to do until the stampede gets here.

On Monday morning, when most journalists were still mainlining their first cup of coffee, a news release confirmed Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Scott Fielding, Tory MLA for Kirkfield Park, was leaving politics immediately to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

Almost before the ink was dry on that news release, the questions started.

In resigning his post, is Fielding an outlier, the exception to the rule for a Progressive Conservative caucus that will circle the wagons to fight for Premier Heather Stefanson? Or is this just the first in a series of high-profile Tories choosing flight over fighting for their political lives in the 2023 provincial election?

Monday, Jun. 6, 2022

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Finance Minister Scott Fielding’s performance was so solid, he toyed with the idea of launching his own party leadership bid when the role came open year.

Stefanson’s push to reduce Hydro oversight likely fuelled by silence

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Stefanson’s push to reduce Hydro oversight likely fuelled by silence

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 1, 2022

Why would Premier Heather Stefanson forge ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the frequency and scope of regulatory oversight for Manitoba Hydro rates in the face of mounting opposition? The explanation may come from the last two paragraphs of a story that appeared in Wednesday’s Free Press.

The story focused on a campaign launched by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition — a diverse group with a pronounced emphasis on environmental issues — to stop Bill 36. The coalition is just the latest voice to join a broad and powerful constituency of opponents that believe Bill 36 is dangerous: consumer advocates, anti-poverty groups, large industrial power users and First Nations lobbies.

And yet, despite all the concern that’s been expressed, Stefanson pushes forward with the bill. Why she insists on doing this is a point of great debate both inside and outside the Progressive Conservative government.

Largely thanks to former premier Brian Pallister, the Tories have been enveloped by an irrational fixation with Manitoba Hydro. In particular, the Tories contend the former NDP government mismanaged the construction of the Keeyask generating station and Bipole III transmission line, adding billions to the Crown utility’s debt.

Wednesday, Jun. 1, 2022

Premier Heather Stefanson (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)