Sunday, 23 September 2012

Whose opinions matter?

American economics blogger Robert Vienneau has an interesting post out about the responsiveness of America's legislative institutions to the public's opinions. Based on a Martin Gilens paper, he finds (surprise, surprise) that the poorest (the 10th percentile of income-earners) have the weakest impact on public policy, whereas the middle class is only somewhat more influential.

It'd be interesting to see this study applied to Canada's parliamentary system, but I expect a similar situation would result.

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

New Prairie Mag!

A new online Magazine - the Spectator Tribune - claims that it will be out this fall. It's trying to fill a similar niche that a magazine like Toronto Life does, but in the prairies. Not a whole lot of info on the Spectator Tribune has been released, aside from (h/t WIPs) the fact that many Winnipeggers are staffing it. It pledges to be cover "interesting, pressing, thought-provoking, divisive" issues and is looking for " brave, edgy writer[s] with strong opinions and the brains to back them up". Looks like some politics will be covered.

There's a history of Western-centric magazines. Country club conservative and anti-environmentalist Ezra Levant played a big role in starting up the "Western Standard", a hard right paper that played off regional tensions between the west and east while writing from a solidly rightwing perspective. But the Spectator Tribune seems like it will be a better written and more nuanced - like the Saskatchewan-centric Prairie Dog Magazine.

It's fall, the magazine doesn't seem to have launched yet. The suspense is killing me!

Hope it does well. There's a lot of bright, young talented writers in the Canadian prairies that could use the outlet.

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Monday, 17 September 2012

MLA Brian Pallister, second place Axeworthy

The man with the public policy blackbox is now Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Fort Whyte. Yes, crowned PC leader Brian Pallister represents the same riding as his predecessor - Hugh McFadyen - did.

The Charleswood resident, as expected, won the Tory stronghold in southwestern Winnipeg (one of the few safe places for provincial Conservatives within the city).

The big surprise was the stunning rise in Liberal fortunes, with Bob Axeworthy (coming from a family with a big name in politics) as runner up to the Tory winner, a role the NDP's played until now.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Expanding Manitoba Film Industry?

Image Source:

I just saw an ad for a "Get on Set Manitoba" website on the side of a Winnipeg Transit bus. It made me whether there's greater demand for film sector workers in Manitoba given the potential for a mass exodus of film companies and workers from Saskatchewan following the conservative Saskatchewan Party's move to eliminate the refundable film industry tax credit in their province. If so, this represents yet another boon for Manitoba's diversified economy and relatively strong (when compared to the national average) job market.  Many of the Saskatchewan companies that are looking to relocate are very professional and competent organizations that could add quite considerably to Manitoba's pool of talent.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Black Box that is the Pallister vision

Image Source: Dead Media Archive
Dan Lett has a column out stating the obvious: Pallister is failing to reveal his plans for our province.

So far the crowned Manitoba PC Leader has offered his position on the property rights of aboriginal women in First Nations communities (an issue where he's actually standing up for rights instead of opposing them). This gives us little clue about what he'd do as Premier (except, perhaps, lobby the feds for changes) as this is a federal issue due to a gap in federal legislation. Nonetheless, it's nice to see that he's giving moral support to the cause.

The other Pallister position is to freeze Hydro rates until new projects are reviewed. This is, thus far, the only real position on provincial public policy the crowned leader of the Manitoba PCs has delivered. He's mostly sticking to bromides against "overspending" and hammering "Greg S." for having a "spending problem".

Pallister seems to be clamping down on media outreach and information as well. His website lacks the (low substance) speeches it used host. Fortunately, one can still obtain a "catched" version of his speech to the Conservative Club of Winnipeg thanks to google. He defines himself as a "fiscal conservative" and "practical centrist" there, but still doesn't seem to present the policies to prove it.

One has to wonder if Brian Pallister realizes that he has a record in the House of Commons and as a 1998 Federal PC Leadership contender. Many politically engaged Manitobans will use these to gauge what direction he'll lead our province in if he doesn't present new ideas.  I mean, there's a trend of politicians of all stripes offering less and less, shifting towards platitudes and tight message control, but this has got to stop for the sake of the province and the country.

Pallister, it seems, is just trying to channel a folksy, glib appeal like Gary Doer - the consummate retail politician. Is this what we have to look forward to in Manitoba, two guys shaking hands and giving "go team Manitoba" speeches? Our province deserves better.    

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