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

Parks are nice; having people living nearby to enjoy them is nicer

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Parks are nice; having people living nearby to enjoy them is nicer

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Feb. 6, 2023

You think we would have learned our lesson.

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Monday, Feb. 6, 2023

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Looking South at King Street and Notre Dame Avenue. A new proposal aims to revamp Smith Street, realigning some of its lanes that lead to Notre Dame Avenue to make room for a much bigger Odeon Park and potential plaza. The proposal was raised by True North, which is expected to come up with conceptual designs. See Joyanne Pursaga story 230201 - Wednesday, {month name} 01, 2023.

They gotta fight for their right to folly

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

They gotta fight for their right to folly

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

It may be the ultimate irony. Months after most restrictions have been lifted, anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-pandemic restriction militants are filling courtrooms across the country to fight tickets and fines issued during the early days of the COVID-19 public-health threat.

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Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Law Courts of Manitoba are photographed on January 3, 2023. Reporter: Erik Pindera

Province steps in as MPI untendered contracts come to light

Dan Lett 4 minute read Preview

Province steps in as MPI untendered contracts come to light

Dan Lett 4 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

Manitoba Public Insurance awarded more than $12 million in untendered contracts to global consulting giant McKinsey & Company in a desperate bid to stop additional cost overruns for its Project Nova, the Free Press has learned.

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Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The MPI head offices in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. For Dan Lett story. Winnipeg Free Press 2021.

Manitoba chequebook changes hands in cabinet shuffle

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Manitoba chequebook changes hands in cabinet shuffle

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

It’s Premier Heather Stefanson cabinet, but it may go down as Cameron Friesen’s shuffle.

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Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson's cabinet moves are to fill holes created by MLAs that had previously announced their intention to retire from politics before this fall’s election.

MPI pulls back hiring plan amid public, political outcry

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

MPI pulls back hiring plan amid public, political outcry

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Manitoba Public Insurance has backed away from a plan to hire 300 new full-time employees, after being warned by the Progressive Conservative government its operating budget for the next fiscal year may not be approved, the Free Press has learned.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Manitoba Public Insurance has backed away from a plan to hire 300 new full-time employees, after being warned by the Progressive Conservative government its operating budget for the next fiscal year may not be approved, the Free Press has learned.

Stefanson pins re-election hopes on friends outside government

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Stefanson pins re-election hopes on friends outside government

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

It is not unusual for governing political parties facing re-election to fight a series of internal battles long before they cross swords with other parties during the campaign.

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Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is counting on strategists Marni Larkin and Michael Diamond to help her win re-election in the fall. (Matt Goerzen / The Brandon Sun files)

School’s idea has some merit, but execution an unmitigated disaster

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School’s idea has some merit, but execution an unmitigated disaster

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to mark the passing of yet another potentially good idea that was sacrificed on the altar of expedience and naivety.

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Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Tories speeding towards collision with scandal after failing to slam brakes on MPI mess

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Tories speeding towards collision with scandal after failing to slam brakes on MPI mess

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

When does a controversy reach the level of a scandal?

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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The MPI head offices in downtown Winnipeg.

Millennium Library blueprint must balance safety, accessibility

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Millennium Library blueprint must balance safety, accessibility

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

Before Christmas, in the wake of the horrific stabbing death on the main floor of the Millennium Library, city officials estimated the flagship facility would reopen by mid-January.

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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

The need to reopen the library is pressing. There are a lot of people, most of them residents of the downtown, who rely on the Millennium for many things other than books. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

Prime minister and Conservative leader are a political match made in hell

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Prime minister and Conservative leader are a political match made in hell

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

Underlying all the hyperbole and venomous trash talking exchanged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, there is a surprising yet inescapable truth.

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Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

Concealing COVID-19 data adds to public health threat

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Concealing COVID-19 data adds to public health threat

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

You could call it the great COVID-19 coverup.

The Progressive Conservative government of Manitoba is currently involved in a pretty sloppy attempt to conceal the inescapable fact that COVID-19 continues to present an existential threat to the people who live in this province.

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Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

You could call it the great COVID-19 coverup.

The Progressive Conservative government of Manitoba is currently involved in a pretty sloppy attempt to conceal the inescapable fact that COVID-19 continues to present an existential threat to the people who live in this province.

Plenty for podcast panel to ponder

Dan Lett 2 minute read Preview

Plenty for podcast panel to ponder

Dan Lett 2 minute read Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

What does a Walrus have in common with a Manitoba winter, safer-consumption sites for those addicted to drugs and federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre? Not much really, but a special year-end/start of 2023 episode of the Niigaan and the Lone Ranger Podcast managed to cover all of those topics and several others.

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Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

Niigaan and the Lone Ranger podcast

Silence from the bridge belies trouble brewing aboard the S.S. Stefanson

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Silence from the bridge belies trouble brewing aboard the S.S. Stefanson

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023

How many Tories have to flee the provincial Progressive Conservative caucus before it qualifies as an exodus?

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Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023

Premier Heather Stefanson (The Canadian Press files)

Out of step, likely out of government

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Out of step, likely out of government

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 2, 2023

In the very first few days of 2023, Manitoba Progressive Conservatives find themselves trapped between a political rock and a policy hard place.

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Monday, Jan. 2, 2023

THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Premier Heather Stefanson. Despite dominating the past two general elections, the governing PC party is poised for political destruction.

Direction of windfall to steer Tories’ near future

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Direction of windfall to steer Tories’ near future

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022

From the look on his face, it was pretty clear Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen was going to get exactly what he wants for Christmas.

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Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen presents the 2022-2023 Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Report at the Legislative Building.

No safe harbour amid mental health, addictions storm

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

No safe harbour amid mental health, addictions storm

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 19, 2022

It is not hard to imagine Tyree Cayer was looking for salvation when he ran into the Millennium Library on the damp and slushy afternoon of Dec. 5.

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Monday, Dec. 19, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Tyree Cayer was fatally stabbed inside the Millennium Library in Winnipeg.

Doing the right thing, finally

Dan Lett 4 minute read Preview

Doing the right thing, finally

Dan Lett 4 minute read Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

Is later really better than never?

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Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Prairie Green Landfill, north of Winnipeg, was identified by police as one of the possible search sites for the remains of victims of accused serial killer Jeremy Skibicki.

All the news that’s fit to print… and wear

Dan Lett 3 minute read Preview

All the news that’s fit to print… and wear

Dan Lett 3 minute read Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

What is black and white and very, very classy all over? How about the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new exhibit to mark the 15oth anniversary of the Winnipeg Free Press?

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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

Klein’s narrow victory highlights troubles for both Tories, NDP

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Klein’s narrow victory highlights troubles for both Tories, NDP

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022

In the Kirkfield Park byelection result, Premier Heather Stefanson can see both her political demise and her salvation.

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Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kevin Klein won with a very narrow victory last night.

Quiet, commanding voice for Manitoba in Ottawa loved good talk

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Quiet, commanding voice for Manitoba in Ottawa loved good talk

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 12, 2022

Over my life as a journalist, I knew several versions of Jim Carr. All of them loved two things: a comfortable couch and a good talk.

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Monday, Dec. 12, 2022

FILE - Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says it is up to the embattled National Energy Board to sort out allegations that its hearings on the proposed Energy East pipeline have been compromised. Minister Carr scrums with reporters at a Liberal Party cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alta., in an April 25, 2016, file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh, File

Police chief didn’t know, and didn’t bother to find out

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Police chief didn’t know, and didn’t bother to find out

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

Is $150,000 a fair price to put on the lives of two murdered Indigenous women?

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Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Chief Danny Smyth speaks about the landfill searches in a serial killer case during a press conference at the Winnipeg Police headquarters last week.

Commitment to truth will clear up Tories’ blurred vision

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Commitment to truth will clear up Tories’ blurred vision

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022

There’s no doubt about it. It was a mistake.

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Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
PC candidate for Kirkfield Park, Kevin Klein, speaks at a PC party nomination meeting at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre Monday, November 14, 2022. Klein was selected as the candidate in the upcoming Kirkfield Park by-election.

Re: Piche

Desperate Tories’ health-care defence long past best-before date

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Desperate Tories’ health-care defence long past best-before date

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

If the last week of campaigning in the upcoming Kirkfield Park byelection is any indication, the Tories have no antidote to what ails them most.

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Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Candidate Kevin Klein, the former city councillor who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in October, was paraded in front of journalists last week to discuss the woeful record managing ERs the former NDP government had.

Province ignored early symptoms of oncoming health crisis

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Province ignored early symptoms of oncoming health crisis

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Dec. 2, 2022

We were warned something like this was going to happen.

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Friday, Dec. 2, 2022

The Manitoba Clinic filed for bankruptcy protection this week. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)