Sunday, 30 December 2012

Ikea more important than Idle No More?

The twitter account holder of a local news blog, ChrisD, has shared their anger over the fact that Idle No More might block some Portage and Main traffic. Braydon Maz, the disgraced former Leader of the "Progressive" Conservative Party of Manitoba Youth, also seems upset about the activists "interfer[ing] with other people's plans". Erik Thomas is more upset over the over-coverage of Ikea in our city.

When Idle No More was rapidly growing APTN noted that most media outlets covered the Ikea monkey more than the trans-Canada protests. Interesting that Ikea seems to be getting more coverage in Winnipeg (for opening here, rather than for the presence of a monkey), as the local news blog displays. Apparently, more box store development in the sprawling 'burbs is worthy of hagiographic coverage, but an aboriginal rights movement in our city - which has the largest urban aboriginal population in Canada - isn't.

What also springs to mind when viewing this twitter feud is the return of the Jets. ChrisD reported when the Jets came back to Winnipeg and described the start of the celebrations. Was he angry when the Jets fan party caused police to shut down Portage and Main? Was Braydon Maz angry about Jets fans "interfer[ing] with other people's plans"? I like hockey (and hate the lockout) as much as the next Winnipegger, but why should a display of hockey enthusiasm be grounds for flooding Portage and Main while demonstrating for aboriginal rights is not?

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Open letter to Google

Image Source: Adsense Screenshot
Dear Google,

Apparently, my Adsense Account is still under review. So I should be seeing blank ads only. Why, then, are actual ads showing up?

Best regards,

The Analyst

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Saturday, 29 December 2012


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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

An unmerry Christmas for Attawapiskat?

Stephen Harper (Top)

Hunger striking Chief Theresa Spence (Bottom)

Image Sources

The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh (Top)
Obtained from The National Post

Obtained from CBC (Bottom)
Correction: 10:30 AM, Dec. 25, 2012 version of this post mislabelled the photos. It has since (2:30 PM, Dec. 25, 2012) been corrected. 

Last year the horrible infrastructure and social crises afflicting First Nations communities came to the forefront with the Attawapiskat story. There was a high quality story from the CBC on the crisis:

What decisive, constructive action did the Harper CONs take to address this? They ordered Attawapiskat to give $1,300 a day to a consultant! Where some people see a crisis, others see an opportunity for corporate welfare, eh?

Aboriginal rights issues gained resonance, the Idle No More Movement continues to develop, and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence demands a meeting with the Prime Minister and other government leaders. Twelve days into the Chief's hunger strike, what does Prime Minister Harper do? He's had quite a bit of time to organize a meeting or talk with the Chief about a meeting, after all.

Well, Stephen Harper arranges a cribbage playing photo op.

The Harper Government has failed miserably when it comes to aboriginal rights. Spending $3 million to avoid equitably funding First Nations child welfare services is apparently a higher priority than actually funding it. This Harper Government needlessly quarrels with First Nations over the Kapyong Barracks, rather than properly consult with them (which doesn't necessarily mean an "urban reserve" end result). Spitting in the face of Attawapiskat First Nation and choosing flashy photo ops over meaningful discussion is yet more salting of the wounds in Federal Government-First Nations relations (which the Harper CONs are doing a lot to deepen). The Harper CONs have long since lost the moral authority to govern.

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Well, the World's Still Here

Image Source: Obtained from
"Then End is Here" website.

Movie poster for the Columbia
Pictures/Ronald Emmerich

Add, in the long line of failed apocalyptic predictions, the "Dec. 21, 2012 is the end because the Mayan colander resets itself then" prediction.

Meanwhile, south of the 49th parallel, news outlets are presenting their own doomsday predictions about the horror that will happen if "America goes over the fiscal cliff'.

And Winnipeg Wingnuts are up in arms about the "end of the world" for Winnipeg because the Federal Government has to consult First Nations about what to do with the old, decrepit Kapyong Barracks.

Frick, some people never learn.

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Public Debt. OMG!!!!

There seems to be quite a bit of deficit/debt fear-mongering going, on, particularly on various Winnipeg forums and prairie sub-forums. On the skyscraper city Manitoba/Saskatchewan sub-forum I decided this chart might help dispel the wingnut idea that Manitoba is somehow Greece. The chart uses different  debt to GDP measures (as noted on the x-category access), so it's imperfect - but still does the trick.      

Debt to GDP ratio of various provincial and national

Image Source: Image constructed by The Analyst
with data from:

Trading Economics



Sadly, one has to be sceptical that "fiscal conservatives" will keep in mind the context.

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The Assiniboine Avenue No Way

Assiniboine Avenue Bikeway

Image Source: Photo taken by The Analyst
Recall all the controversy over the Assiniboine Avenue Bikeway? The eeeevvviiiillll Bike LobbyTM was supposedly singlehandedly influencing municipal public policy with their mighty powers & influence, due to their .... (okay, there's no institutional analytic reasoning there).

Well, after this hard fought decision, after some business complaints, and after the realization that the bike path (like most other things in modern Winnipeg) was rushed (by municipal public servants due to federal stimulus expiration dates as opposed to any evil lobby) without sufficient consultation, what's been decided? After the Winnipeg bicyclist community has become informed and started using the infrastructure built amongst controversy, what does the future hold?

Friday, 21 December 2012

Federal Dipper Web Ad

Well, the Federal NDP has a feel good "year in review" web ad out. I can only hear the "positive alternative? Pat Martin swears!!" refrain coming following the infantile social/conventional media obsession over Pat Martin's "potty mouth".   

Overall, it succeeds at giving off an upbeat, cheery vibe suited for the holidays. Halifax MP Megan Leslie talks about a role for government being one of her core values, a framing Dean Baker's wisely cautions progressives against using. Quebec MP Laurin Liu speaks of how working in parliament hasn't made her cynical - a sentiment I cannot possibly understand (especially given this).

Overall, it'll strike most persuadable voters as a nice ad and it might make some sense for the Dippers to shill out the bucks to air it.

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rise of the extra-parliamentary Opposition

Top: Harper at Buckingham Palace
Bottom: First Nations child poverty
Image Sources: Top - Sean Kilpatrick/CP
(obtained from Chronicle Herald)

Bottom - Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press
(obtained from CBC)

After receiving his mandate of less than 40% of the Canadian electorate, Harper and his CONs decided to institute wide-ranging deforms to Canada's social contract through various monstrously large omnibus bills. Debate was hindered in the House of Commons as the parliament became a rubber stamp for the Harper CON agenda.

The Harper CONs used the heavy hand of the state to intervene and bully unions, both  in the case of Canada Post workers locked out of the office by their managers and in the case of private sector Air Canada workers. They deformed Employment Insurance and Old Age Security. They pushed through dumb on crime laws. They've terminated the democratic vote subsidy.

The Harper CONs have fought against equitable funding for First Nations Child Welfare and have effectively spat in the face of Attawapiskat First Nation. They've even brazenly pushed a monster bill to redefine the Canadian State's relation to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

The Harper CONs' fight against the needs of the majority in favour of the plutocratic elite should truly make their deep-pocketed country club Conservative donors proud. This under two year reign of a Harper Majority has featured wildly successful legislative accomplishments for the hoity-toites. They've been a nightmare for workers, aboriginals, nonviolent drug users (if they aren't rich and can't afford the best lawyers), and the jobless, though.   

It seems that Harper believes that he's acquired political capital and must spend it. 

This weekend: winter solstice party, political discussion & activism

End of the World Party! (Winter Solstice)
Image Source: Humanists Atheists and Agnostics Manitoba
The Humanists Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba (HA2M) are hosting their annual winter solstice party. This time it's a joint event with Winnipeg Skeptics, styled as an "End of the World Party".

It'll be held at the Assiniboine Golf Club on 2045 Ness Avenue from 7 pm to 12:00 am this Friday. There'll be food and drink and other activities. Attending the event costs $15 per ticket. 

One can email the Winnipeg Skeptics to RSVP. There's also a Facebook page for the event.

Progressive Drinks

Cousins Deli & Lounge, site of this Sunday's
 Progressive Drinks.

Image Source: Cousins Deli & Lounge Facebook page

Winnipeggers interested in municipal issues will have an opportunity for discussion amongst drinks at Cousins Deli & Lounge on 55 Sherbrook Street. It's from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm this sunday (Dec. 23, 2012). 

Topics like poverty, urban development, and the environment will be discussed.

It also appears to be a free event. Here's it's Facebook page.

As a teetotaller, I'll probably stick to diet pop if I attend.

Image Source: Idle No More Site
The Idle No More movement is a heavily social media organized, grassroots, and decentralized movement somewhat similar to the  Occupy and "Arab Spring" movements. The movement started in response to Harper CON plans to change the Indian Act through the "mega" omnibus Bill C-45.

Various Winnipeg events part of the Idle No More movement have been organized by the North End based Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO!). AYO! is part of surge in North End First Nations activism of which Michael Champagne and the North End Bell Tower meetings are representative of.

On Dec. 10 an Idle No More rally at the Manitoba Legislature drew 300 people. This friday and saturday, there are two Idle No More events.

On Friday (Dec. 21), from noon to 3:00 PM, Idle No More participants will gather at Oodena Circle at the Forks. They've organized speakers, drummers, and a march to the legislature. The AYO! appears to have organized this event.

Based on the Regina precedent, a flash mob at Portage Place on Dec. 22 from 3:00 PM to 3:20 PM is planned. This event seems to have been planned independently of AYO!.

It's really a packed weekend.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Too true!

Sam Katz, for context, has put himself at the heart of a variety of conflict of interest allegations by failing to put his financial affairs into a blind trust. While not mandated by law, putting financial affairs in a blind trust is a great way for municipal politicians to avoid potential conflict of interest disputes.

The country club (small c) conservative seems to be utterly ignorant of the corruptive effect money in politics has. While lamenting the Manitoba NDP for endorsing council candidates, he spoke of the Manitoba Government's ban on corporate AND union donations as being a bad policy that specifically hurts right of centre council candidates. Either Katz was ignorant of the fact that unions could also donate to council candidates or he knew that big corporate donors were a lot more powerful than union donors.

Either way, he has a bad mindset, one which views businesses as entitled to interfere in municipal elections via money. This mentality is utterly incompatible with public service and makes it much more likely that Katz will confuse private interests with public duty elsewhere, such as in matters of municipal policy.  

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Friday, 7 December 2012

11/2 years later

Lake Saint Martin First Nation Chief Adrian
Sinclair and Manitoba Liberal Leader
Jon Gerrard.

A rally was held at the Manitoba Legislature
on Nov. 26, 2012.

Image Source: Jon Gerrard's blog
In May of last year I discussed the controlled breech that flooded vast swaths of land in southern Manitoba. In the comments section, I elaborated on the seeming oddity that there was so much talk about compensation for flooded out farmers but little discussion/funding announcements/press conferences about what to do with the flooded out First Nations communities. The Province had no clear plans about where the displaced residents of Lake Saint Martin First Nation would permanently resettle.

In June of this year there was still no resolution to this crisis.

And now, a solid 1 1/2 years later, there is still no resolution to this crisis. Many Lake Saint Martin First Nation residents are crowded in Winnipeg hotels or trailers in a temporary site. The community has no permanent residence. The residents will likely spend Christmas in a city that is alien to them.

True, the Federal Government needs to show leadership. But so does the Province. The Government of Manitoba has to start getting stuff done for the people of Saint Martin First Nation. The Manitoba NDP, what started out as the party of social justice, is presiding over a great social injustice caused by the government's decision to flood some communities to save our city.

As a Winnipegger I am glad that our city was spared. But the Government of Manitoba has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that those whose homes had to be scarified get new ones. And when it comes to Lake Saint Martin and other Interlake First Nations Today's NDP has failed miserably.

I don't always agree with what Jon Gerrard says nor do I think a Liberal government would be much different from the Doerist NDP. Nevertheless I have to commend the Manitoba Liberal leader for actually bringing up the issue in the legislature and rallying with the community for a resolution. There's been much squabbling over how much flood compensation farmers and cottage owners will receive between the Manitoba CONs and the Manitoba NDP in the legislature, yet few have discussed the displacement crisis afflicting Interlake First Nations. Perhaps, given the extreme aloofness to outright hostility to First Nations concerns the Harper CONs display, its understandable that the Pallister CONs aren't bringing it up.

Kudos to Dr. Gerrard.

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dole out subsidies for country club Conservative donations?

The Manitoba Club: Manitobans who
can afford memberships at elite clubs
are more likely to be able to afford
donations to political parties.

Do we really want those with more money
to have more voice? Or is the
democratic vote subsidy better?

Image Source:
Google Streetview

Stumbled across a great Micheal Qaqish article about the implications of the Quebec corruption scandal for the rest of Canada. It's from the summer, but still timely. The main point is that big money in politics leads to big corruption in politics. 

While the circumstances in Quebec may be worse than in the rest of the country, there remain several loopholes that allow for a small number of wealthy individuals to finance politicians to victory. The magnitude isn’t necessarily comparable to George Clooney or a casino mogul throwing multi-million dollar fundraisers for a certain party or candidate, yet pumping any additional sums of private money into politics will make the system more susceptible to corruption.

In that regard, the federal Conservatives set back our democracy when they moved to scrap the most fair and democratic form of political contribution, the per vote subsidy over the next three years. Their rationale was that taxpayers shouldn’t be financing political parties, however the individual or private contributions they support are more costly through their subsidization by taxpayers. Any serious reforms should have the per vote subsidy as the sole source of funding [my emphasis added].

("Quebec corruption probe a national wake up call for campaign finance reform". Michael Quqish (June 26, 2012). Ipolitics)
Crowned Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister.

Opposes the democratic per vote subsidy yet
doesn't oppose expense reimbursements that
benefit his Conservative party.

Image Source: Alyssa McDonald/Winnipeg Metro

The Pallister CONs in this province have fought tooth and nail against the the democratic financing of Manitoba elections. The Winnipeg Free Press has joined the push against the fair financing of elections, with Dan Lett calling it a "minor issue". All the while the Pallister CONs, just like their Harper CON cousins at the Federal level, are happy as can be getting donations subsidized.

Brian Pallister, for the record, has claimed that there's some big difference between getting expenses reimbursed (which apparently is good) and having parties subsidized based on their popular support (which is bad, for some reason).I have no clue what the difference is - maybe having money doled out based on the decisions of a majority of the population is worse than having money doled out based on the spending decisions of an elite few.

So, is subsiding donations better than giving all voters a say in who gets the dough next election? Should country club Conservatives have more say than hard-working poor janitors, bus drivers, and farmers?

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

2nd Annual Cycle of Giving

Basically, various volunteers (many from community bicycle shops and bicycling advocacy organizations, but others too) will build bikes for kids for 24 hours (Dec. 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm until Dec. 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm). The event focuses on giving less fortunate children bicycles and bicycle resources they may not otherwise be able to afford. 'tis the season, after all.

The WRENCH has participated in other projects based on making biking accessible to children from poorer homes. Back in July, they partnered with MPI, the WRHA, and the U of M Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter to give nine kids rebuilt and properly fitted bikes, helmets, locks, and road safety training.

1st annual Cycle of 

Image Source: The WRENCH
The WRENCH donated 20 broken bikes to be fixed up and rebuilt specially for nine children during the summer event. It's likely similar to what the end result of the 2nd annual Cycle of Giving will look like.

The 11 annual Cycle of Giving was very impressive. The goal was to rebuild 150 bikes in 24 hours and the volunteers exceeded it by rebuilding 229 bicycles. 70 people volunteered to rebuild the bikes then.

 For this 2nd annual Cycle of Giving the WRENCH is looking for both donations of bicycles and bike parts as well as money to buy children bikes, locks, lights, and fund bike education. They hope to raise $15,000.

Wish 'em the best of luck. All in all, it's a great illustration of the best that the solid network of community bike shops and bicycling advocates in Winnipeg can do.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Winnipeg Citizens Coalition deader than dead

Recently googled "Winnipeg Citizens Coalition" and found my old blog post as the third result. Clicked on the link to their website - turns out to be shutdown.

Quite unfortunate that that attempt in advocacy for progressive municipal causes has died. Hopefully, more successful organizations will eventually evolve to fill the role.

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Monday, 3 December 2012


I've stumbled across a Transport Canada article about urban bicycle planning. They article has interesting data on the percentage of workers who commute to work by bike in various Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) for 2006.  Here's some of the big metro areas and the percentage of workers who bike to the job.

Percentage of commuter bicyclists per Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)
in 2006.

Image constructed by The Analyst with data from Transport Canada.
What's noteworthy is just how small the percentage of commuter bicyclists is across all the major (and "majorish") metro areas. Ottawa's the real outlier, with 2.2% of workers getting to the job by bicycle. The Victoria CMA, if it were included on this graph, would wipe out all these CMAs, with a staggering 5.6% of workers commuting by bike. 

But what's really interesting, from this blogger's parochial perspective, is that the Winnipeg CMA has a greater percentage of bike commuters (1.6%) than the Toronto CMA (1.0%). This is especially surprising given that our icy prairie winters and lack of proper snow ploughing of bike lanes by the City should discourage commuters. Take that TO (CMA)!!

In all seriousness, though, it's probably just the 905 belt suburbanites (some falling into the TO CMA) commuting to offices by cars in Old Toronto that's depressing the count. The City of Toronto proper has 1.7% of the labour force who biked to work in 2006. Old Toronto and the "anti-Ford Nation" of Downtown Toronto would likely have a staggeringly higher percentage of bicyclists that would approach Victoria's level. For the City of Winnipeg proper, though, an impressive (relative to City of Toronto proper, not to the real hubs of commuter bicycling - Victoria/Vancouver/Ottawa) 1.8% of workers who biked to the job.

While not immense, there's still a decent (by Canadian and prairie standards) number of bicyclists in Winnipeg. There's also quite a well developed (for a city of our size) network of community bicycle shops in Winnipeg that provide a lot of uncharged, volunteer assistance to bike commuters (including repairs).

The upper-midwestern US city of Minneapolis has been rated the most "bike friendly" city in all of the US and has a solid 3.5% of the workforce commuting by bike. Perhaps it's possible to expand the number of commuter bicyclists in Winnipeg with improved, effective, well communicated, and public consultation-based municipal public policy.

In short, the type of stuff City Hall hasn't done for years.

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Pallister disrespects what our veterans fought for

Manitoba CON leader and Fort Whyte
MLA Brian Pallister.

Gave his "rebuke" of the Province's rarely
used policy of allowing students to Opt-Out of
Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Image Source: Alyssa McDonald/Metro Winnipeg 
The Portage Daily Graphic has an article out about the Opt-Out Gate manufactroversy, replete with talking points from various CON politicians expressing "outrage" and "offence" at the rarely used policy.

Manitoba Opposition Leader Brian Pallister rebuked the provincial government on Tuesday as there is no requirement for students attend Remembrance Day ceremonies at schools.

Pallister said the move shows a lack of respect for veterans as he pledged to stand by veterans who "bravely stood up for us."

“These are men and women who left family and friends to put themselves in harm’s way. Many made the ultimate sacrifice. Asking Manitoba students to spend an hour of their time is a small price to pay for the freedoms too many take for granted,” said Pallister in a statement.

“It is our duty as citizens to show our respect to those who’ve given us the priceless gifts we enjoy today. Life, liberty and freedom are ours because young men and women were prepared to give up their lives to fight for those principles."

("PCs rebuke NDP stance on student attending services". Jordan Maxwell (Nov. 13, 2012). Portage Daily Graphic.)

So, because veterans died fighting in the name of liberty and freedom it makes perfect sense to deprive people with unconventional views the liberty and freedom to Opt-Out of Remembrance ceremonies?  Yeah, that sounds about right...

...or not.

The Pallister CONs have issued a press release. Perhaps that will clarify matters.

The premier’s misguided assertion in the media that this is a case of religious freedom misses the point. The PC Party is here for Manitoba’s veterans and will stand up for those who bravely stood up for us.

“These are men and women who left family and friends to put themselves in harm’s way. Many made the ultimate sacrifice. Asking Manitoba students to spend an hour of their time is a small price to pay for the freedoms too many take for granted,” says Pallister.

“It is our duty as citizens to show our respect to those who’ve given us the priceless gifts we enjoy today. Life, liberty and freedom are ours because young men and women were prepared to give up their lives to fight for those principles,” adds Pallister.

("NDP Disrespects Veterans". Manitoba PC Press release (Nov. 13, 2012))
"Missing the point"? How, Brian Pallister? In case your party hasn't gotten this, allowing the rare religious or political objector to Remembrance ceremonies (perhaps a radical secular pacifist or more fundamentalist Mennonite Brethren member) to "Opt-Out" is about honouring liberty, even when we don't like the choices people are making. The Premier isn't commending the decision, he's allowing it. Failing to see the difference is the trait of an illiberal mindset utterly inconsistent with the liberties our veterans fought in the name of.

Pallister's really disrespecting veterans. He's disrespecting them by advancing a policy driven by (rightwing) authoritarian urges. The same urges that drove some of the worst men in history, who our veterans gallantly fought against (particularly in World War II). He's embraced a demagogically driven manufactroversy rather than seriously consider the issues affecting veterans. Where is Pallister's indignation when it comes to his former colleagues' disgraceful treatment of our disabled veterans?

Flesh and blood human beings, it seems, are less important to the Manitoba CON leader than symbols.

How else could he get so invested in Opt-Out Gate without holding back due to the significant risk it posses to some children?

A 40 year Legion member noted the risk that Opt-Out Gate demagoguery would provoke bullying. Afterwards, a commenter on this blog, likely stirred up by the frenzy over Opt-Out Gate, considered systematic punching of kids in the nose if they opted out of Remembrance ceremonies.

If a (supposed) adult is talking about punching kids in the nose, imagine what other children would do.

Ignoring bullying is a Harper CONs trait it seems the Pallister CONs share.As is a preference for symbols over real, flesh and blood human beings and liberty.

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Opt-Out Gate: Dangerous Demagoguery

Note: This post was initially intended for publication right after Remembrance Day. The research took longer than expected. 

The Winnipeg Sun: Home of all that's unfit
for print.

Image Source: Google Streetview
image of the Winnipeg Sun Office
In the lead up to Remembrance Day, the Winnipeg Sun ran more than a few articles on the extremely rare opting-out of Remembrance Day ceremonies by a small number of students. This story started out in Alberta - receiving attention from some media outlets in Edmonton. Eventually Alberta Premier Redford opportunistically chimed in with her disappointment.

Shameless demagoguery over symbolic slights is fodder for conservative politicians. Many conservative politicians lose on real issues. Thus phoney populism over minor slights works better for them than real populism over major public policies.    

The story, about an exemption in laws governing Remembrance ceremonies at public schools - that had existed for quite some time -, probably sprung up as reporters desperately sought out topical, ratings grabbing content for Remembrance Day. The Sun dailies, particularly the Winnipeg Sun, saw this as an emotions grabbing story in line with their basic MO of stirring up manufactroversies over perceived affronts to tradition. They realized that, if Alberta had such rarely used exceptions, other jurisdictions must have them as well. Manitoba, it turns out, is one such jurisdiction.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Winnipeg Riding Poll

I've decide to come up with another poll, both to keep the site a bit more interactive and to learn a bit about what types of readers this blog attracts. Given the sensitivity of the info, in addition to the manual act of just not answering the poll I've added a "prefer not to say" category.

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Monday, 19 November 2012

Trudeau knocking out NDP's chances of forming gov't?

Justin Trudeau, pictured after a charity boxing match.

Trudeau is the "perceived frontrunner" in the 
Liberal leadership race.

Liberal poll numbers have risen following
his entry into the race.

Image Source: REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Posted in the National Post
On October 2 the charismatic Justin Trudeau entered the Liberal leadership race. While the Liberal leadership convention isn't until 2013, Trudeau has received lots of media attention. Right now the CBC describes him as the "perceived frontrunner". Were the convention held today, I'd expect it to be a shoe-in for the 15th Prime Minister's son. No offence to Martha Hall Findlay or the other contenders, but that's an undeniable truth.

The Liberals have longed look for saviours in leaders. Slapping on a new face is a hell of a lot easier than changing the party, after all.

First there was Dion - crushed by Tory attack ads as "not a leader". Then there was Ignatieff - tarred by Tory attack ads as a "cosmopolitan", fair-weather Canadian, and Liberal elitist. Finally came Rae's brief, intern leadership - only for Rae to be blown off as a bad Premier of Ontario (the actual facts be damned, of course).

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Great New Blog

A new blog's on the scene: the WpgNewsReview. The blog was started less than two months ago, in October, and has a lot more content than one would expect for such a new entity.

It's written by a business owner, former military serviceperson and 40 year Legion member. The blogger aims for media criticism while categorically rejecting the notion that they're an alternative journalist or that their blog is a substitute for newspapers.

There's a lot of solid analysis on the blog, particularly when it comes to municipal public administration and public finances. For instance, there's several posts on the city's snow removal scheme - detailing the media announcements, zoning schemes, and city contracts.

I think we is in big trouble

How to tell when a politician or hack is lying?

What's all the hubbub - bub?

Snow removal - two thumbs up (their bums)

There's also an analysis of the city's contract with Emterra for garbage removal.

Great stuff, really.

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Sunday, 11 November 2012

War to End All Wars

Next of Kin monument, in front

of the Manitoba Legislature.

Photo taken by the Analyst.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the "war to end all wars" ceased. Many people, including many Canadians and Manitobans, fought and died in that war. Men, like those soldiers in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, fought on the front-lines, experiencing the horrors and trials of war firsthand.  

Farm workers left the fields of Manitoba and enlisted to fight in the "war to end all wars". Jobless workers also flocked to serve their country in the army.  Women worked in the factories and as army nurses, with significant strides towards more rights - including attainment of the right to vote for  Manitoba women in 1916  and for women in all of Canada by 1918.

The hope and dreams for a world without any more wars were to be dashed. The next worldwide war, the devastating Second World War, would begin in twenty-one years with a remilitarized Germany's invasion of Poland. Dreams of a better world at home were more immediately crushed, with horrendous working and economic conditions in Winnipeg persisting for returning soldiers. The attitudes of our city's economic elites were not what the veterans had expected as thanks for their service.  

Photo of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

Image Source: Wikipedia
The Winnipeg General Strike began a year after the First World War, filled with many disappointed former soldiers. The Canadian Government of the day betrayed those who had served Canada valiantly with brutal suppression.

The veterans of the wars of Canada, be they from the World Wars, the Korean War, the War in Afghanistan, and countless others are important to remember. Not for mere sentimentality or due to an idealization of the "glory" of war, but as a way of remembering what the costs of war are. Over what bare minimum of decency and respect those who fight for a country expect in return. And over the need to continue nation-building and social improvement for all within a fair and just society at home after and during conflicts abroad.

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Friday, 9 November 2012

Transportation Poll

Response from readers to poll on mode of transportation.

Image Source: Constructed by The Analyst off excel. 

Now's probably the time to finally get around to writing a post about the results from the "Mode of Transportation" poll of readers that was open in the summer. A plurality of readers who responded to the poll drive a personal automobile (45%) and, when car poolers (5%) are added, 50% of reader poll respondents are motorists. Bicycling (18%) and Public Transit (16%) were the runners up.

Image Source: Constructed by The Analyst.

Motorists made up a lesser percentage of site survey respondents than they do of Winnipeg's overall Labour Force (according to the 2006 census). Bicyclists made up a substantially higher portion of site survey respondents (18%) than they do for the Winnipeg Labour Force at large (1.8%). Public transit users were slightly over-represented (16% of site survey respondent's versus 14.20% of the Winnipeg Labour Force).

Overall, it seems that The Winnipeg RAG Review readership (or, at least, poll responders - given the comically small sample size and selection bias) have diverse commuting habits.

Mode of transportation for the Winnipeg Labour Force, according
to the 2006 census.

Image Source: Constructed by The Analyst based on 2006 census

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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

US Presidential Election & left populist talk

Barack Obama, campaigning in Orlando, Florida.

Image Source: Barack Obama's
 Flickr photostream
Well, today's the big day in the US. The day citizens of that republic vote for president (through the comically indirect, winner take all, and disproportionate "electoral college" system).   Obama, in all likelihood, will win.

Statistician Nate Silver has crunched the numbers, giving Obama very high odds of winning given his efficient state-by-state distribution of support in the highly winner-take-all electoral college despite being neck-and-neck when it comes to the popular vote (Wired magazine has an article out debunking the statistically illiterate claims of anti-Nate Silver hacks).

What's particularly notable about this US Presidential election, aside from eerie similarities to the ones in 2004 and 2000, is just how the background and issues have been shaped by left populism and how much centre-left populist rhetoric the incumbent's using.  

The pro-austerity, anti-public social investment Tea Party movement laid the stage for the the Republican campaign to take the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections , based on notions of "government intrusion" from "Obamacare", "overtaxation", and "reckless spending". A variety of McCarthyite conspiracy theories about "communists" in the halls of power, "latte liberals" hating America, and what not filled the movement's not too marginalized extreme. Anger over the collapse of the demand and the American economy had been squarely directed at the US Federal Government in general and the Obama administration in particular that election. Income inequality was not an issue.

By the 2012 election campaign, two things happened to change this.

  • The top ranks of the Republican Party, like both major parties, are filled with members of the American plutocracy. The fact that their candidate was a country club conservative, rather then a supposed "man of the people" fighting the evils of "latte liberalism", was made more apparent by choosing the obliviously, hereditarily wealthy and privileged Mitt Romney rather than a nouveau riche Republican. The Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, is also well known to have had a much less privileged upbringing - making it harder for "latte liberalism" charges to gain traction.  
  • Romney, in turn, picked one of the most radical opponents of social investments - which provide opportunity to the working and middle classes - imaginable in Paul Ryan. It became patently obvious that Ryan's past proposals for cutting social investments to the public so as to redistribute money to the rich (through tax policy and maybe even some direct subsidies) blatantly amounted to class warfare against the majority of Americans. 
What the Obama campaign successfully did was seize on the opportunity created by a media backdrop that was paying some attention to economic unfairness and unequal opportunity in the US. While some Occupy activists opposed Obama in Iowa, he should still be greatly indebted to them for the opportunity their conversation-changing activism provided. 

Tax relief to the middle class, equal opportunity, "we built it together", and the same set of rules for all Americans are themes the Democrats have repeated again and again in this campaign. Barack Obama, despite some of his more regressive economic policies, fashioned himself as a centre-left populist and hammered Romney over his tax plans and personal income tax returns. The theme was relentless, leading to less emphasis on the intra-class war issues known as "culture wars" and more on the pressing socioeconomic issues facing the highly unequal United States. 

Obama's term has been good for the very rich, in terms of corporate welfare measures like the TARP and in terms of the recovery more generally, where over 90% of the income gains in the first year of recovery went to the richest 1%. The top-heavy, bottom frail recovery and distribution of income will likely continue through Obama's second term. Nevertheless, centre-left populist talk will have extended the President's time in the White House.   

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Friday, 2 November 2012

First Nations and Party Politics

Kevin Chief, MLA for Point Douglas-
a provincial riding with a large aboriginal
population- was featured in APTN's "The
politics of being Aboriginal".
Chief, a man of First Nations
descent, has roots in the area -
growing up in a poor, single-father
household in Point
Douglas .

Image Source:

University of Winnipeg,
Kevin Chief Bio
 Probe Research's has done some fascinating research on the voting behaviour and party preferences (both Federal and Provincial) of aboriginal peoples in Manitoba. It's been covered in a documentary, "The politics of being Aboriginal", on APTN.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Brian Pallister finally has a policy idea!!

Provincial Conservative leader has
proposed to raise the personal tax

Photo from summer, as he campaigned
for leadership of the provincial

Image Source: Winnipeg Metro
Brian Pallister's proposing to raise the basic personal exemption -the threshold under which Manitobans don't pay taxes - from $8,634 to $10,617.

This announcement breaks Pallister's trend of keeping quiet about his plans for Manitoba. The policy isn't horrible, given that it'd benefit the working poor who suffer from a variety of regressive revenue generators in this province.

However, knowing that Pallister has frequently criticized "Greg S." for overspending, there's a risk that this tax cut proposal is just an attempt to "starve the beast" by playing Santa as he cuts taxes for the working poor while slashing public social investments that benefit them once in office.

While Manitoba has a lower basic income exemption than other provinces, the bottom 60% of Manitoban income earners had more money in there after tax income compared to their market income thanks to transfers Manitoba's income tax system still has a high degree of fairness and equity, regardless of the lower basic personal exemption.

If the Pallister uses his tax cut for the working poor as an excuse to cut more beneficial direct public social investments once elected, hard-working poor Manitobans will suffer. One hopes he'll chose against such an ill-advised policy, despite commitments to "reduce spending" with few specifics.           

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Policy Fix has an early October post on the per-vote subsidy and it's importance to creating a fair playing field in Manitoba politics. They not that the Free Press and Pallister CONs of this province have both opposed the vote subsidy, wrongly (as this blog has).

Cherenkov has a post out about the leaves of Winnipeg and our city's media landscape that you may find interesting.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Harper CONs vs. Refugees

The Harper CONs have switched their tone when it comes to immigration. At times, they like to portray themselves as more sympathetic to immigrants than the Liberals - who supposedly embrace the "flippant secularism of the Annex" - while at other times they take a hardline stance against refugees. Jason Kenney, the Harper Government's Minister of Immigration, has both led the microtargeting campaign for new Canadian voters and proudly defended the Harper Government's curtailment of refugee benefits.

The Harper CONs have spoken out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to new Canadians. To Quebeckers it should be evident that the Harper CONs will pander to xenophobes given their Quebec French language radio ads. But now the jig is up and people in the rest of Canadian can see clearly what the Harper CONs are willing to say about refugees, thanks to a blockheaded draft flyer from Saskatchewan Conservative MP Kelly Block.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Pallister & Plutocracy

Should people with money, such as members of the
Manitoba Club, have more influence over
political ads/finances than the
 hard-working poor of our province?

Top: Picture of Manitoba Club, obtained from
Gauche Manitoba.

Bottom: Photo of janitor, obtained
 J.G.  Janitorial Services LtD website. 
The NDP's weak when it comes to the democratic financing of elections while the Pallister CONs are just outright atrocious. They're leading an all out, open war against the democratic financing of electoral campaigns, ensuring what's effectively a "one dollar one vote" system when it comes to advertising.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

CONs & poor First Nation Child Welfare

: Child poverty rampant among
First Nations.

Image Source: CBC

Bottom: Harper at Buckingham Palace as Queen
Elizabeth II reveals a portrait of herself.

Image Source: The Chronicle Herald
There's a litany of First Nations Child Welfare horror cases, frequently sighted by critics of aboriginal self-government. There seems to be a deep, structural problem with the First Nations child welfare system, but what's the likeliest cause? How about underfunding?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Some blog stuff's messed up

UPDATE: Other bloggers are having issues with missing blogstats.

Well, my total post count's gone from over 36,000 to 10. Have no idea how that happened, but I hope whatever caused it's fixed.

I'll try to get some more posts up, btw. I've been busy but there's been so much in the news, particularly some new developments illustrating just how extensively the CONs have been microtargeting Canadians.

That's all for now.

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Thursday, 4 October 2012

Media disanalogies

Image Source: The Hamiltonian
Graham Hnatiuk has a scathing critique out about the Winnipeg Free Press (WFP) and what he sees as there deep incompetence in adapting to a new, digital landscape. While there are many cheers to independent media -an attitude I happen to share - I can't help but think there's some colossal disanalogies in his piece when comparing the WFP to "online success stories" like Mother Jones.

For starters, the Winnipeg market is colossally smaller than the audience Mother Jones targets. The US has hundreds of millions of people. Even defining the market more narrowly, Mother Jones has tens of millions of potential viewers who'd be interested in their long form journalism and analysis. Winnipeg has less than seven hundred thousand. As commenter Wendy Sawatzky stated, Mother Jones relies on memberships and donations to stay afloat. To be fair, Hantiuk does note that they're a non-profit.   

But that also goes to the heart of the matter. The WFP is a business with the clear objective to make money, not just "stay afloat" or produce "quality journalism". Perhaps one could make the argument that if newspaper businesses aren't profitable anymore, than the public still deserves a news service and so it makes sense to restructure newspapers into nonprofit organizations like The Media Co-Op. But it's important to keep in mind that big distinction between for-profit newspaper businesses versus nonprofit independent media outlets.

I don't know too much about the financing of "The Great Canadian Talk Show" (TGCTS), the only independent media outlet ran by someone full-time in Winnipeg that Graham mentions. TGCTS used to be affiliated with the Red River College campus station, which was somewhat sheltered from market forces. Nevertheless, Marty Gold's succeeded post-RRC in getting enough sponsors to at least survive doing what he does full-time. Beyond that, I don't know too much about his financing model, but I doubt it could keep a larger news organization afloat.

Lastly, it should be noted that investigative outlets in America like Mother Jones don't have to deal with the threat of Canada's political libel laws, which are a powerful tool for the rich to SLAPP dissent or bad press. That tends to stifle muckraking. 

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