McFadyen demands flood-response review

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Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen picked up on Friday where he left off before the Oct. 4 election when he demanded the Selinger government launch an independent review of its handling of this year's flooding.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/10/2011 (4125 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen picked up on Friday where he left off before the Oct. 4 election when he demanded the Selinger government launch an independent review of its handling of this year’s flooding.

In question period at the legislature, McFadyen said the Selinger government practically ignored flood victims in Thursday’s throne speech, a sign he claims shows their ongoing plight has been forgotten.

Premier Greg Selinger replied the province has so far dispensed more than $320 million in flood compensation and more money is coming. Talks between Ottawa and the province under a disaster financial assistance program are moving forward, with money to start flowing to the province within weeks as the federal government verifies flood-fighting costs. An earlier estimate of the flood cost to the province was $154 million, with anticipated federal cost-shared recoveries of $478 million.

“We’re moving rapidly,” Selinger said. “If anybody, for whatever reason, feels they have not had an opportunity to get the programs that they need, we encourage all the members of the legislature to give us those names and we’ll follow up with them.”

Since last June, the provincial Tories have criticized the government for supposedly faulty water-flow forecasts that didn’t accurately measure the amount of water headed Manitoba’s way on the Red River and later the Assiniboine River.

McFadyen said University of Manitoba professor Jay Doering and retired Manitoba flood forecaster Alf Warkentin have publicly criticized the province for poor flood forecasts. McFadyen said the air must be cleared to restore public confidence through an independent review that can call expert testimony and solicit public input.

“It’s not just a matter of looking back and identifying what happened,” he said. “Just as importantly, it’s learning lessons about how we move forward in a way that is successful.

“Whether it needs to be sworn testimony or not is a nuance that should be considered. We’d be happy with an inquiry, but it can be some variation on that, provided that it’s independent and open.”

Selinger said provincial officials routinely conduct reviews after natural disasters to see what improvements can be made in disaster response and management and compensation. Those reviews are made public.

He said provisions will be made for public input into the 2011 flood overview report.

Friday was the first day of question period in the new legislative session. The houses rises Nov. 1.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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