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This article was published 16/6/2011 (3340 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the final moments of the last session of the 39th legislature, provincial politicians unanimously passed a bill introduced just two weeks ago to clean up Lake Winnipeg.
The vote was barely recorded when the NDP fired out a press release questioning the Conservative Party's sincerity in supporting a law that clamps down on hog farmers and requires the city of Winnipeg to build a modern biological nutrient removal sewage treatment plant. It accused the Tories of flip-flopping on both issues.
Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen shot back that cleaning up Manitoba's largest water body seemed to be the government's lowest priority. He said in nearly 12 years under the NDP's watch, the lake has deteriorated. He said the Conservatives will do better.
Let the election campaign begin.
Thursday was a day of emotional farewells and spirited debate as MLAs sat for the last time before the Oct. 4 provincial election. Ten MLAs -- several with family members looking on from the visitors' gallery -- said their goodbyes, including former Filmon cabinet minister Len Derkach, the most senior of the retiring members, and House Speaker George Hickes.
Flooding along Manitoba's rivers and lakes gripped the legislators' attention this spring, but underlying every political move was this fall's election in what promises to be a close race.
The Conservatives hammered the NDP at every turn over its decision to build a hydro line along a costlier western route. On Thursday, it followed this up with newspaper ads pointing to a new party website devoted to an issue that they hope will resonate with Manitobans during the election campaign. The NDP, meanwhile, accused the Conservatives of having a secret agenda to privatize Manitoba Hydro.
McFadyen and Premier Greg Selinger will debate the hydro transmission line issue in an hour-long debate on radio station CJOB this morning.
Hydro policy, health care, fiscal management, economic growth and managing floodwaters figure to be hot topics on the election trail this year. But it's now likely that the condition of Lake Winnipeg will also figure prominently.
The Conservatives, defended farmers when the NDP introduced a law restricting hog industry expansion a few years ago, but voted Thursday for a Save Lake Winnipeg bill that will regulate that industry further. The NDP accused the Tories of flip-flopping on the issue and questioned their sincerity.
McFadyen said he's sincere about the lake, whose condition, he says, has worsened under the NDP. "This bill was brought to a vote as the last bill ... of about 50 on the last day of the last session by a government that's been in power for 11 and a half years. So the message is very clear that cleaning up Lake Winnipeg is the NDP's lowest priority."
These are some of the laws passed this session:
Victims' rights: The Victims' Bill of Rights Act was amended to deny or reduce compensation paid to a victim of crime who has been involved in illegal activity in the past.
Retail hours: The Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Amendment Act enables retailers to be open for extended hours when Boxing Day falls on a Sunday.
Polar bears: The Polar Bear Protection Amendment Act establishes the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at Assiniboine Park Zoo.
Compensating firefighters: The Workers Compensation Amendment Act expands the number of illnesses presumed to be caused by firefighting to include multiple myeloma and primary site prostate, skin and breast cancers.
Impaired driving: The Highway Traffic Amendment and Drivers and Vehicles Amendment Act stiffens penalties against drivers who are repeatedly caught with blood alcohol concentration of at least .05 but less than .08.
Defibrillators: The Defibrillator Public Access Act requires owners of designated public premises to install life-saving defibrillators.
Flex time: The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act allows employees and their employers to enter into written flex time agreements.
Ukrainian heritage: The Manitoba Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day Act proclaims the last Saturday in July of each year as Manitoba Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day.
No bullying: The Public Schools Amendment Act requires a school employee or a person in charge of pupils during school-approved activities to report to the principal if they think a pupil has engaged in bullying.
Cell phones: The Consumer Protection Amendment Act provides more protection for consumers who enter into cell phone contracts.
Staying in school: The Preparing Students for Success Act raises the age in which kids must stay in school to 18 from 16.
Condos: The Condominium Act sets out new rules for the creation, ownership and operation of condominium properties. A tenant who rents a rental unit in a condominium complex is entitled to receive notice that it is a condominium unit and copies of documents related to the condominium corporation.
Booze: The Liquor Control Amendment Act allows the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission to set up some boutique shops in grocery stores and other areas, allow for the establishment of brew pubs and allow operators of restaurants to let customers bring their own commercially-produced wine to drink with a meal in the dining room.
Lake Winnipeg: The Save Lake Winnipeg Act bans new hog barns that don't use advanced water protection practices and sets guidelines for Winnipeg's new North End Sewage Treatment Plant.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.
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