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

Time remains on campaign clock as city races to embrace past

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Time remains on campaign clock as city races to embrace past

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Sep. 26, 2022

Let’s get one thing straight: Glen Murray has not won the 2022 mayoral election. In a somewhat surprising development, however, it appears the election is now his to lose.

A recent Probe Research poll, conducted on behalf of the Free Press and CTV Winnipeg, released last Friday, shows Murray has the support of 40 per cent of decided voters, down slightly from a June report but still way out in front. In fact, the man who served as Winnipeg’s mayor from 1998 to 2004 has more support than the second-, third- and fourth-place candidates combined.

To what do we attribute Murray’s strong pre-election showing? As the Free Press story so eloquently put it, it could be “nostalgia, name recognition or running a good campaign.” It’s probably a little bit of all of those things.

Murray has brand recognition from his time in the mayor’s office, and also from having maintained a fairly high political profile since leaving Winnipeg.

Monday, Sep. 26, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayoral candidate Glen Murray has brand recognition from his time in the mayor’s office, and also from having maintained a fairly high political profile since leaving Winnipeg.

U.K. keeping Queen’s memory alive, one flower at a time

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U.K. keeping Queen’s memory alive, one flower at a time

Dan Lett 5 minute read Sunday, Sep. 11, 2022

LONDON — It’s only 8 a.m. on Sunday morning but deep within the misty folds of The Green Park, in a small hollow known as the Floral Tribute garden, dozens of women are working frantically to remove cellophane and paper wrappers from some of the thousands of bouquets that have been left for Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Parks service had cautioned the public not to leave bouquets at nearby Buckingham Palace but rather to leave them in the Green Park hollow or at Hyde Park. Thousands of mourners took the advice to heart, filing through the tiny tribute area beginning Friday and continuing nearly non-stop throughout the weekend.

In their rush, or perhaps in grief, the mourners ignored one of the most important parts of the Royal Parks Service advice: to remove the wrappings. “Removing the wrapping will aid the longevity of the flowers and will assist in the subsequent composting which will start between one week and a fortnight after the date of the funeral.”

Nobody knew exactly when it started, but someone in the throng began to remove the wrappings. Others joined in, taking the unwrapped bouquets and re-arranging them in elaborate swirls on the damp morning grass.

Sunday, Sep. 11, 2022

DAN LETT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A woman stacking flowers at The Green Park in London.

Spend-happy mayoral candidates need dose of fiscal reality

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Spend-happy mayoral candidates need dose of fiscal reality

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

Of all the good ideas that have been floated by the enormous gaggle of mayoral candidates, few have touched on the most pressing challenge faced by the City of Winnipeg: it cannot afford to pay its bills.

The pandemic, huge weather-related events and an austerity-minded provincial government have put the city in what appears to be an endless cycle of budget deficits. That’s a huge problem because the city is legally prevented from carrying a deficit from one year to the next.

The city recently updated its fiscal outlook for this year, and is expecting a $55.9-million operating deficit. Winnipeg Transit will finish the year with a shortfall of 14.7 million. The majority of the operating deficit is due to higher snow-clearing costs ($34 million) and increased expenses incurred by police, fire and paramedic Service and emergency medical expenses.

To cover the shortfall, the city will be forced to draw more money from its fiscal stabilization account, which will be reduced to just over $20 million. That is well below the $71.7-million minimum council previously set. There is no immediate prospect for it to be replenished.

Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jaden, Bryce and Tait Loewen climb the Winnipeg sign in their every child matters shirts for the A New Day ceremony at The Forks Plaza in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Friday, July 1, 2022

Consuming less energy is answer to high prices

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Consuming less energy is answer to high prices

Dan Lett 5 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2022

There’s simply no way to get around it: Canadians are energy-consuming hogs.

This past April, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-governmental environmental advocacy organization, issued its annual international energy efficiency scorecard. Analyzing the 25 “most energy-consuming” countries, the ACEEE scorecard highlights those countries that are making a real effort to reduce energy consumption to help slow climate change, and exposes those that only talk a good game.

This year, Canada ranked 13th of 25 countries with an overall energy efficiency score of 49.5 out of a possible 100 points. That is well below first-place France (74.5) and only slightly above the global average of 48.5. That is a remarkably poor score given our relative wealth but it looks even more unflattering when you consider other metrics.

Canada actually rates seventh on policy, with robust targets and a myriad of government programs promoting energy efficiency. However, we rank 23rd when it comes to performance. In other words, Canadians are energy hogs.

Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2022

There’s simply no way to get around it: Canadians are energy-consuming hogs.

This past April, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-governmental environmental advocacy organization, issued its annual international energy efficiency scorecard. Analyzing the 25 “most energy-consuming” countries, the ACEEE scorecard highlights those countries that are making a real effort to reduce energy consumption to help slow climate change, and exposes those that only talk a good game.

This year, Canada ranked 13th of 25 countries with an overall energy efficiency score of 49.5 out of a possible 100 points. That is well below first-place France (74.5) and only slightly above the global average of 48.5. That is a remarkably poor score given our relative wealth but it looks even more unflattering when you consider other metrics.

Canada actually rates seventh on policy, with robust targets and a myriad of government programs promoting energy efficiency. However, we rank 23rd when it comes to performance. In other words, Canadians are energy hogs.

Stefanson has chance to make orange-coloured history if she decides to take it

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Stefanson has chance to make orange-coloured history if she decides to take it

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

“I think if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

That was the response that Premier Heather Stefanson gave to The Canadian Press in July when asked whether there was enough time to formally designate Sept. 30 — the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation — as a full, provincial statutory holiday.

A private member’s bill from NDP MLA Ian Bushie that would have declared Sept. 30 as a provincial holiday died on the order paper late last year. At the time, Stefanson said she supported the idea of a holiday to mark Orange Shirt Day, as it has become known. She also suggested the NDP bill could be revived at some point.

Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Friday, Sep. 2, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Haven Stumpf a daughter of a residential school survivor wears an orange t-shirt with the words, "Reconciliation, Awareness, Residential Schools, Culture, Truth, Education, Solidarity, Unity, Respect," written on the back, watches as singers perform on the steps of the legislative building. Members of the Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation and Tataskweyak Cree Nation — including leadership, residential school survivors and youth gather of the steps of the Manitoba Legislative building after walking from Winnipeg’s Victoria Inn at 1808 Wellington Ave. during the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, on Thursday. 210930 - Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Tories’ affordability initiative less about families, all about politics

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Tories’ affordability initiative less about families, all about politics

Dan Lett 4 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022

It was touted as an affordability initiative, an effort by the Progressive Conservative government to help Manitobans “most in need” of relief from inflation.

In the end, however, Wednesday’s announcement by Premier Heather Stefanson was just further proof that her Tory government does not have the interest or the aptitude to help the neediest Manitobans.

Throughout the six years the Tories have been in power, high-profile “affordability” policies have manifested in cuts to sales and property taxes that provide a disproportionate benefit to people paying the most tax. Although tax relief is not bad in and of itself, the Tories have reminded us that tax cuts do not help families who cannot make ends meet.

In her latest affordability gambit, Stefanson unleashed a range of initiatives designed to help those “most in need” of inflation relief.

Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Premier Heather Stefanson announces funding for affordability to seniors and families in front of members of her conservative government in Winnipeg Wednesday, August 31, 2022.

Bell bosses’ blunders fan flames over LaFlamme’s firing

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Bell bosses’ blunders fan flames over LaFlamme’s firing

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 29, 2022

In an interesting side note to the whole Lisa LaFlamme scandal, you may be interested to know that CTV News — the venerable organization that recently fired the 58-year-old anchor from her job at the top-rated national news program in the country — has broadcast more than 40 stories on toxic and abusive workplaces since the start of 2021.

There were stories about private-sector employers that allowed rampant sexual harassment. There were also toxic leadership stories about the RCMP, the Canadian military and among the Rideau Hall staff serving former governor general Julie Payette.

In all those stories, CTV News unflinchingly reported all of the ugly details of the misbehaviour and abuse, with all of the judgmental contempt that news organizations employ when reporting on bad people doing bad things.

And yet, ironically, CTV News is looking more and more like one of those places where bad people do bad things.

Monday, Aug. 29, 2022

GEORGE PIMENTEL

Lisa LaFlamme was, by all accounts, the best national news anchor in the country. She helmed the highest-rated news program in the country.

Ferocious Manitoba: what we lack in driving skill we make up with aggression

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Ferocious Manitoba: what we lack in driving skill we make up with aggression

Dan Lett 5 minute read Friday, Aug. 26, 2022

My right-turn signal had been on for about 30 seconds when the black sports car finally made its move.

It was about a week ago. The driver of that car had been hovering in my blind spot, unwilling to make room for me to change lanes on Pembina Highway. Suddenly, he accelerated at an alarming rate, nearly clipping the rear of my SUV. He passed me on the left and then veered sharply right towards the front end of my car, forcing me to hammer the brakes and the horn at the same time.

That horn turned out to be a mistake. Now in front of me, he slammed on his brakes, forcing me to do the same. Then he veered back into the left lane and came alongside me, launching a torrent of profanities and challenging me to get out of my vehicle. “Hey, tough guy… you wanna go?”

Twice he lurched his car towards mine in a threatening manner. Eventually, I made the right-hand turn I had been anticipating and it was over. But I was shaken.

Friday, Aug. 26, 2022

Friendly Manitoba blank license plate 2009. Winnipeg. close cut closecut

Ottawa steps in to support frustrated, angry nurses as health system teeters

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Ottawa steps in to support frustrated, angry nurses as health system teeters

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022

In the national debate over how best to solve a chronic nursing shortage, the plot has most definitely thickened.

On Tuesday, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced the appointment of Canada’s first chief nursing officer to help the provinces get a handle on the nursing shortage. Duclos announced that Dr. Leigh Chapman, a registered nurse with 20 years experience, will fill this new position.

The announcement is intriguing for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact the federal government plays no significant role currently in the training, recruitment or retention of nurses. That job falls to the provinces, which have the constitutional authority over all health-care expenditures.

However, if the current national nursing crisis is any indication, the provinces have all profoundly mismanaged this important human resource and anyone in need of prompt health care is paying the price.

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The announcement is intriguing for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact the federal government plays no significant role currently in the training, recruitment or retention of nurses.

New home care strategy humane but hopeless

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New home care strategy humane but hopeless

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is about to attempt a magic trick of enormous magnitude.

According to scant details made available through a leaked memo obtained by news outlets this month, the WRHA is preparing to unleash something called the “60/40” project, a new strategy to keep more elderly patients at home for as long as possible before admission to personal care homes.

Right now, an inordinate number of these elderly patients are forced to move into palliative care units in hospitals that are already strained under a system-wide staffing shortage. Under the 60/40 plan, patients who are eligible for a personal care home, but do not have a bed available, will be provided with home care. Patients who are too sick to live at home even with home care may still be admitted to a hospital.

The “60/40” plan represents hope for a new and more humane standard of care for elderly Winnipeggers, but also for a chronically understaffed hospital system that is nearing collapse.

Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

New boss needs to shed former leader’s bad habits

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New boss needs to shed former leader’s bad habits

Dan Lett 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

How many times do you need to be caught misrepresenting the facts before you start acknowledging the truth?

For two years, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government has been trying to gut the regulatory system that sets electricity rates for Manitoba Hydro. A second bill, Bill 36, would dramatically reduce the ability of the Public Utilities Board to independently review Hydro operations, and give cabinet unfettered power to set rates.

The justification for this unprecedented intrusion into the PUB’s independence is a claim by Hydro and the Tory government that the regulatory process costs are so expensive — $10 million a year — they are driving up rates. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Premier Heather Stefanson and Finance Minister Cameron Friesen have repeatedly relied on that figure to justify this bill.

However, in a recent decision denying Hydro its request to make a single rate application for both electricity and natural gas rates, the PUB appears to have settled the matter of the costs of annual rate hearings.

Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Premier Heather Stefanson has taken the opportunity to claim there is a new sheriff in town. At the very least it’s possible she comes with the same old bad habits as her predecessor.

Docs aren’t cops: they shouldn’t police themselves

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Docs aren’t cops: they shouldn’t police themselves

Dan Lett 5 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

Like many Manitobans, my search for the perfect family doctor has been a bit of an odyssey.

I’ve had family docs that ghosted me — disappeared without any explanation. Others have had so many different side hustles — autopsies, rotations in hospitals, teaching obligations — they were never available. Then there was one doctor who was keeping a horrible secret.

For a while, I had a family doc in a downtown practice who seemed OK, but had moments of eccentricity. He made occasional off-handed and off-colour remarks. They were bad attempts at humour. After a few awkward experiences, I thought I’d see if he’d ever got into trouble.

There was nothing on the website of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba. However, deep down on the Google search results was a small news item from a competing newspaper about my doctor being disciplined — the exact details were not reported — for over-prescribing Oxycontin to some of his patients. There had been a police investigation but I could not find any details about how that was resolved.

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS College of Physicians and Surgeons head office photographed Tuesday, June 14, 2022. The College handles complaints about physician misconduct. Re: ?

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 Monday, Aug. 15, 2022

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.

Monday, Aug. 15, 2022

Phase one construction for the north end sewage treatment plant in Winnipeg. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

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?

Concerned about climate change? Winnipeg could use new technology to become a net-zero emissions city. And how about a fleet of electric passenger vans to move people in areas not served by Winnipeg Transit? And why not come up with a new surcharge on vacant homes to encourage redevelopment? Oh, and there would be thousands upon thousands of new, affordable housing units.

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.