Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Comment System ... bunch of old comments dead

Update: Got old comments back - uncertain of how well it'll work. 
Lest there be another Comment-Gate I'd like to clarify that I switched the commenting system over at The Winnipeg RAG Review from blogger's default system to Livefyre. Unfortunately, it seems that I had to kill a bunch of old comments to do so. Hopefully, it works out in the end.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Harper MisGovernment's sick priorities

Is this how much Prime Minister Harper cares about
the safety of Canadians?

Image obtained from West Coast Native News
The Harper MisGovernment has fought a long battle to destroy indigenous lands with pipelines, showing desperation for US approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Stephen Harper's lackey, Jason Kenney, has gone so far as to opine about US public opinion polls on Keystone to get the dirty - and perhaps bloody - oil project through.

As a unique study in priorities, one should note this same Harper MisGovernment often implies that we have scarce public money. As a response to this the Fabian Neo-Conservative agenda of Harper includes cuts to many basic public services, like transport safety:

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Stephen Harper's Christmas Insult to First Nations

Tina Fontaine vigil, August 19, 2014.

Image taken by Greg Gallinger,
obtained off Twitter
Finding a mean spirited way to insult Indigenous Peoples seems to be a holiday trick Stephen Harper pulls out at least every two years. Back in 2012 he snubbed the suffering community of Attawapiskat for some cribbage photo ops. This year he's basically thumbing his nose at the relatives and advocates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  

After a year of tragedy, with increasingly high media profile cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (including Sagkeeng First Nation teen Tina Fountaine, who was under the care of Child and Family Services in Winnipeg before her death) Stephen Harper flat out said an Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women "... isn't really high on our radar, to be honest" in a Dec 17 year end CBC interview.

This is well after the Provincial Premiers had supported an inquiry, by the way.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Image Obtained from West Coast
Stephen Harper has had an utterly contemptuous relationship with First Nations. Federal Government lawyers (same government Stephen lets us know is the "Harper Government") spent $3 million trying to stop equitable funding for the First Nations Child Welfare System. The Harper MisGovernment's Aboriginal Affairs Department has even spied on an advocate for First Nations Child Welfare.

While refusing to hold an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, dismissing the social factors behind the tragedy, the Harper MisGovernment is brazenly challenging the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations in court.

All this leads to what a colossal insult admitting an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was low on his radar is. It is hard to imagine how Prime Minister Harper could show more disregard towards Indigenous Peoples, but surely he'll find a way.     
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Great Divide in voting

Upscale neighbourhoods like Wellington Crescent
have higher turnout and more say in city politics than
low income areas like Lord Selkirk Park.

Top: Wellington Crescent House
Bottom: Lord Selkirk Park Apartments

Image Source: NOW Winnipeg

Writing a special piece for UK newspaper The Guardian, local columnist Bartley Kives had a terrific article on the "great indigenous divide" that defines Winnipeg:

“Aboriginal Winnipeggers are the fastest-growing segment of the middle class,” trumpted Kevin Chief, the provincial minister for Winnipeg, in a sunny editorial for the Winnipeg Free Press. “All the evidence shows a big part of that success is education. This is an incredible emerging story, and Winnipeggers are recognising it and responding.”

Much of the city’s aboriginal community, however, remains underemployed, undereducated and relegated to relatively impoverished neighbourhoods in Winnipeg’s inner city and North End. Two of the three poorest postal codes in Canada are in Winnipeg. Both are predominantly indigenous neighbourhoods. They are plagued by substandard housing, inadequate financial and retail services and higher-than-average levels of violent crime, mostly because of the domestic violence associated with poverty but also because of the presence of indigenous gangs.

In an exit interview in September, outgoing mayor Sam Katz portrayed aboriginals as refugees in their own country. “I know that there’s a lot of First Nations people leaving the reserves and coming to the big city of Winnipeg. They have no training. They have no education. They have no hope,” he said. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out what’s going to happen. They’re going to end up in gangs. They’re going to end up in drugs. They’re going to end up in prostitution. And from there, it only gets worse.”

In this divided city, those are often the only indigenous people whom some suburbanites like Lorrie Steeves see: the panhandlers, solvent abusers and mentally ill. Steeves’ rant which may have precipitated the subsequent decline of popular support for her husband, but it also garnered some praise – adding insult to injury for many indigenous Winnipeggers.

("The 'great indigenous divide': Winnipeg stares into an ethnic chasm". Bartley Kives, The Guardian (Oct. 21, 2014.))

There has been some speculation over whether the Metis Brian Bowman, as Winnipeg's first indigenous mayor, can bridge the divide. I'll personally adopt a wait and see approach, as while the mayor-elect promised the moon we still have yet to see what he'll actually spend his political capital on. Closing the great divide will also take a lot more than one person, even someone as mighty as the (soon to be) mayor.

The election which generated a landslide win for Bowman itself demonstrated a great socioeconomic divide. Poorer neighbourhoods, with high indigenous and other racialized populations, in the North End and parts of the downtown did not go heavily for Brian Bowman like the middle class and upscale suburbs did.

A great illustration of this is a map in the Freep article about Ouellette and his ability to attract unlikely voters.Judy swept the North End and Robert Falcon-Ouellette did well in eastern downtown and eastern inner city subdivisions. A map of voter turnout, however, reveals that the areas won by Judy and Robert were lightweights in turnout, with some subdivisions boasting less than 19% turnout. Bowman leaning Tuxedo subdivision CT03, by contrast, had 58.2% of eligible voters at the polls.

The Great Divide in voting may help explain why a solid left progressive hasn't sat in our mayor's chair since the early 1940s. While lower turnout doesn't matter as much in provincial elections, where poor areas are cut off into ridings (in which case, it doesn't matter for a party whether you win the riding with 20% turnout or 70% turnout) it does matter for city-wide elections. It also probably matters somewhat for council ward races, as our council wards are much larger than provincial city ridings (15 wards vs 31 provincial ridings in Winnipeg) so that a richer neighbourhood outvoting poorer neighbourhood dynamic probably shapes the vote within wards. This is certainly the case with federal Winnipeg ridings (of which there are only 8).

This Great Divide in voting is a cause for concern. The poor have less platforms than middle and upper middle class Winnipeggers to let their grievances and issues known. A working poor single parent may have less time to prepare a brief for a City forum or a letter to the editor. Given the elite social circles politicians often frequent, our fellow citizen may be uncomfortable approaching most of them about issues. Giving campaign donations is also harder when you have less money to spend.

If poor Winnipeggers are giving up on the ballot box come civic election time, they're giving up on one of their few  feasible options they have for participating in the political system. A class, both by circumstance and by choices shaped by past experiences, locked out of the electoral system should concern all Winnipeggers.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Verdict on the Bowman Victory

Outcomes of a Bowman mayoralty remain

Image Source: DraemsTime
Brian Bowman, in many ways an old school Chamber of Commerce conservative, won a landslide victory in the Winnipeg Mayoral Election. Winnipeg City Council has taken a less conservative turn, with quite a few wildcards and unknowns, on the new council.

One of Bowman's major campaign planks was to create, in effect, a two-tiered pension system to the detriment of new (generally young) city workers. This is a troubling development when it comes to fairness and seeing how council responds to any Bowman pension plans will be important.

The new mayor, however, ran a Tory platform much redder than Steeve's with many bold urbanist promises, such as completing all legs of the Bus Rapid Transit system by 2030. These are important initiatives for the future of our city and I hope the mayor can work together with city council to bring these much needed public investments forward.

Overall, however, I am cautiously pessimistic about the prospects for Winnipeg over the next 4 years. Only time will tell whether the urbanist or the Chamber conservative side dominates Bowman's term as he faces our city's big challenges.

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Oh Pallister ...

Brian Pallister, leader of the Official
Opposition in Manitoba.

Image Source: Screen capture/Youtube/Natalie Pollock
Reading through the Freep website I found this interesting nugget:

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday night's outcome was a message of how dissatisfied voters are of the ruling NDP government, in light of the collapse of support for former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Pallister said Bowman's successful campaign signalled Manitobans want positive change and for politicians to work together at all levels.

"This election campaign was about many things, but it did send a message that the same old ways are not acceptable to Winnipeggers or Manitobans anymore," Pallister said.

("Selinger says he and Bowman share several priorities". Winnipeg Free Press. Oct. 23, 2014)

So in this statement provincial Conservative leader "Positive" Pallister attacks the NDP while lauding the need for politicians to work together. Bit of a mixed message, eh?

Also somewhat ironic is a man with last century's values talking about how unacceptable the "old ways" are to Winnipeg. This is doubly so as Pallister's CONs acclaimed as a candidate for Kirkfield Park Scott Fielding, who stands for the old sprawling ways urbanist Bowman rejected.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Brian Bowman: Old School Chamber of Commerce conservative

Brian Bowman (far right), with Tracy Bowman,
"honoured" to have the endorsement of old school
Conservative politician Gary Filmon (second from the left, with
wife Janice Filmon).

Image Source: Twitter

Way back in May 14 of this year I was at the launch of Brian Bowman's campaign. It was held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which the mayoral hopeful once chaired. A crowd of 300 packed into the Gallery, many young urban professionals, members of the local twittersphere, and folks from the marketing industry. Perhaps the "next generation leadership" lawyer Bowman keeps talking about, which is also a fairly privileged subset of said generation.

This well attired set gave heavy cheers to Brian Bowman. The first round, while intense, was not great enough for the gentleman introducing him - Dave Angus, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce - who demanded an even louder round of applause (which the audience more than complied with).

Entering the stage with cheers and neon lights flashing, Bowman went on to give his speech. In it, he delivered lame zingers like "Is City Hall ready for Winnipeg at one million people? It's not even ready for winter!" (approximation of quote based on memory) which the crowd more than ate up, with one person seated behind me particularly lapping up Bowman's punchlines. The rock star treatment Bowman was given at the launch, both in terms of stage management and the way the crowd lapped him up, was very unnerving. It revealed, however, that the mayoral contender's candidacy would be slickly marketed.

A similar unnerving glibness has remained throughout his campaign. Bowman would attack Judy Wasylycia-Leis as a "career politician" while later praising her public service. The lawyer would also bemoan the awfulness of "old school politics" and lament negativity, while running a campaign with it's fair share of punches and attacks.

Brian Bowman campaigning for a provincial

Image Source: Twitter
As part of his glib marketing campaign Bowman has styled himself as providing the "next generation of leadership", talked about city politics not being about right or left" and generally portrayed himself as a big tent candidate. The lawyer, however, has criticized Judy Wasylycia-Leis for sitting in opposition benches as an MP and for having ties to the NDP.

This critique of partisan partiality is in spite of Bowman's own ties to the provincial Conservatives - having campaigned for a Conservative MLA and receiving endorsements from many prominent current and retired CON pols - including ex-Premier Gary Filmon. There was even interest in having Brian run for PC leader in the past.

Bowman has made ambitious proposals, such as building all Bus Rapid Transit lines by 2031, shifting from property taxes to a four percent municipal sales tax, and building a fenced in dog park in downtown Winnipeg. Many of the big picture and even urbanist ideas the lawyer is running on parallel the BOLD campaign of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. This should not be surprising as the mayoral contender has deep ties to the Chamber.

Brian Bowman was chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce when it launched its BOLD initiative. While the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce opposed the PST increase they did support granting municipalities the power to raise infrastructure levies - something the 4% Bowman Sales Tax would do (if he could get the province to approve it).

Within the closing period of this campaign, "next generation of leadership" politician Bowman revealed what he really is: an old school Chamber of Commerce conservative, quite like the other supposed political "outsider" Sam Katz who was first elected in 2004. The Chamber conservative is committed to cutting public city worker pension benefits, but specifically for new workers - i.e. often young workers. The candidate espousing "next generation leadership" revealed just what it'll be like: class war against the weak and powerless.

In a new, Bowman age there would be a tale of two youths in Winnipeg. The privileged set, laughing at his jokes and enjoying his fight to beautify the downtown and the underprivileged set losing their benefits and facing the consequences of his very old school, reactionary class warfare against the new public workers of Winnipeg. Given Bowman's usage of Judy's political experience as an insult perhaps it should not be too surprising that the private sector lawyer does not seem to deeply respect the public service.

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Liked this post? Consider liking us on Facebook and following The Analyst on Twitter. - See more at: http://wpgragreview.blogspot.ca/#sthash.cVSHdB8M.dpuf
Liked this post? Consider liking us on Facebook and following The Analyst on Twitter. - See more at: http://wpgragreview.blogspot.ca/#sthash.BXn7WvJs.dpuf

Monday, 15 September 2014

Harper MisGovernment blind to social factors behind MMIW

Another not so great moment for Canada under the Harper MisGovernment. Our federal government is at least acting clueless to the social basis behind the obscenely disproportionate numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).

(Via Truth Mashup)

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

FIPA coming down the pipeline ...

... and, as the Vancouver Observer's Jenny Uechi points out, it should raise many red flags. For example, because there wasn't consultation with First Nations the Canada-China trade deal might be unconstitutional.

Free, prior and informed consent has never been a strong suit of the Harper MisGovernment, though.

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Monday, 8 September 2014

#GordNation admantly against Transit Choices now!

Two birds of a feather? Gord Steeves and Scott Fielding.

Image Source: Twitter
Gord Steeves and Scott Fielding are two rightwing city politicians that are alumni of Katz's inner circle - the Executive Policy Committee (EPC).

Both distanced themselves from Sam Katz yet, like our Mayor in the past, both want to stall on rapid transit.

They stand for the sad status quo of having a rapid transit line running only halfway to the the U of M.  This is a project which had a shovel ready plan back in 2004.

After years of dithering we got half the project done and have been promised $375 million in federal and provincial funds. Gord and Scott want to stall on this, which  may jeopardize the funding.

 So, we must ask ourselves, who are these clowns?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Making Winnipeg proud ...

... with Winnipeggers winning two thirds of Truth Mashup's prestigious Douchebag of the Week awards on August 11. These great honours ensured Toronto wasn't alone in the class of "Canadian mayoral races filled with assholery".


Hooray, eh?

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sincere and Solid Endorsements

  Note: Google's comment form has its glitches. Make sure to copy any comments you write in the event they do not go through the first time.

Sometime on Friday, August 8, 2014.

Twitter screen captures. See here.

And a bit earlier ...

Twitter screen capture. See here.

Many people, clearly, are jumping on the Maxymowich bandwagon due to the appeal of forcing women to birth and keeping teens ignorant of the facts of life.

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Critics also have a Right to Free Speech

 Note: Google's comment form has its glitches. Make sure to copy any comments you write in the event they do not go through the first time.

Twitter screen shot: Charles Adler's response
after being shown that Candace Maxymowich
was clearly using abortion & abstinence only "education"
as campaign issues.
After her attempt to woo social conservatives backfired, school trustee candidate Candace Maxymowich and her apologists have been touting out "free speech" and her "right to have opinions" to counter critics. This is standard fair for whenever a fringe social conservative shoots their mouth off and says something absurd. The "right to free speech" crowd immediately jumps in, as if a right to free speech entailed a right to be sheltered from other views.

That is not real free speech. The right to free expression applies both to the socially conservative fringe and mainstream critics. Critics of Candace Maxymowich's "personal opinions" in favour of abstinence only "education" and Forced Birth have the right to express their dissenting views.

This right includes the right to explain how utterly bad as policy abstinence only "education" is and how awful Forced Birth is from a public health standpoint. It also includes the right to freely state how utterly morally repugnant they view the values of subordinating women's control over their own bodies and embracing ignorance inherent in the two positions are.

As someone in the public sphere and certainly as someone running for elected office Candace Maxymowich doesn't get off the hook from criticism simply because she has "free speech". She'll have to defend her views, recognize the free speech of critics and accept the electoral consequences as they prove that her views are without merit. 

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Pallister CON shakes up Trustee Race with Hard Right Culture Warfare

LRSD Ward 4 candidate & provincial
Conservative Youth Representative
Candace Maxymowich (left) beside
Conservative leader Brian Pallister.

Image Source: Candace Maxymowich/Twitter
Note: Posting on this blog has been too inconsistent. From here on out there will be new posts at least every Wednesday.

Second Note: Google's comment form has its glitches. Make sure to copy any comments you write in the event they do not go through the first time.

Candace Maxymowich is a candidate for School Trustee in the Louis Riel School Division's Ward Four and is the Pallister CONs Youth Rep. Recently she's been in the news for bringing her support for Forced Birth and Abstinence Only "Education" into the trustee race.

It's sure been one hell of a weird trip up to this point.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Harper CONs campaigning over dead bodies

Israeli Defense Force attacks against Gaza - over Hamas rocket fire - are making headlines here in Canada. This is rightly so as it's a tremendously important situation - especially given the one-sided approach the Canadian Government is taking on the international stage.

I seldom talk about foreign policy issues here, but I have to make an exception now.

This Truth Mashup clip details how the Harper CONs have been using this tragedy in the Levant to their advantage. It also provides some background to the tragedy.

That grossly distasteful Conservative "action movie" trailer was released on July 18, 2014 ... as strikes, fighting and death were happening in Gaza. 

Really, what the fuck is the matter with the Harper CONs? Couldn't they at least wait a few weeks for the dead bodies to grow colder before shamelessly politicking over this issue for domestic gain?

There's ordinary, cynical politics and then there's gross, craven nihilism that ought to be out of question for any mainstream politician in Canada. Sadly, it seems that the Harper CONs' PR machine is okay with crossing that line.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Thugs try to terrorize Fringe actress

Vandalized Fringe Festival poster for Lies of a
Promiscuous Woman

Image Source: Courtesy of actress
Theresa Thompson to CBC,  obtained
off of CBC website.
It's that time of year in Winnipeg: Fringe Festival time!

 Various venues across the city are holding the weird, quirky and off beat plays that make the Festival. Everything from The Big Fat Drag Queen to Boomer Love is on display.

 Sadly, one Fringe play has rubbed some (thuggish) folks the wrong way: Lies of a Promiscuous Woman.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Government responsible to the public, not just taxpayers

Be Warned: Some attempts at philosophizing here.

Contributor to The Winnipeg RAG Review Art Cramer has been debating the Manitoba Liberals' Regional Director for Winnipeg East, Kurt Berger, 140 characters at a time via twitter. Before the conversation took a unique turn (for those interested, available here, here, and here) taxes were discussed.

Can't say I entirely agree with colleague Art Cramer's take on the privilege of paying taxes, though he is echoing a sentiment from the father of economics, Adam Smith, who regarded taxes as a "badge of [...] liberty". Certainly, given the regressive nature of sales taxes and user-fees, not all contributors to the public purse are financially privileged, even given that low income Manitobans end up as net beneficiaries of the income tax and transfer system.

I have a problem with Kurt Berger's perspective as well, though. That is his zooming in on being responsible specifically to taxpayers, rather than the general public.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Why Reddit can be really awesome

This usually applies to the Winnipeg sub-reddit, even though it's smaller than a lot of the other sub-reddits.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Safe road biking tips

Courtesy of the Manitoba Cycling Association and CAN-BIKE.

CAN-BIKE // Traffic Skills 101 from Manitoba Cycling Association on Vimeo.

And remember, never follow the advice of "get off the roads" and onto the sidewalks.

(H/t to Brendax on Reddit)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Your Winnipeg

As we all know, the various classic rock radio stations of this fine city form an integral part of our culture. They have a crucial finger to the pulse of our municipal zeitgeist or collective unconscious. They understand the listeners and understand the various neighbourhoods within our city. This is why Power 97 is imminently qualified design an utterly serious and scientific quiz, filled with the utmost sensitivity and lack of negative stereotypes, to find which neighourhood most closely aligns with your personal values.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Podcast on the utterly Orwellian FNCFNEA

Indian Residential School in
Elkhorn, Manitoba.

Image Source: General Synod Archives,
Anglican Church of Canada.
The Harper MisGovernment has had quite a bit of trouble ramming the First Nations Education Act down the throats of First Nations. To get passed the genuine concerns of real people affected by this bill  the Harper CONs pulled out all the stops ...

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Jim Flaherty, RIP

Jim Flaherty, Canada's 37th Finance Minister.

Image Source: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press
In the upcoming weeks this blog will look at the new Finance Minister, how they fit within the broader context of the Harper Government, and what this means for Canada. Before moving towards discussions of the future, however, it is important to acknowledge a very recent and very tragic event: the death of former Finance minister Jim Flaherty.

Flaherty was involved in Ontario provincial politics as a Progressive Conservative before his career at the Federal level, serving in a number of cabinet portfolios. Rising to Ottawa as an Whitby-Oshawa MP,  Jim Flaherty served as federal finance minister within Harper's first year as Prime Minister. He continued as finance minister until March of this year, resigning from cabinet and federal politics due to health reasons.

As a member of the Conservative Party of Canada Flaherty pursued the Prime Minister's agenda, which included spending cuts and slashing corporate taxes While generally a team player, Flaherty got into conflicts with others in the Conservative Caucus over family friend Rob Ford and income-splitting, a tax policy benefiting the wealthy he didn't support.  

On most matters, though, the Whitby-Oshawa MP worked tirelessly to forward Harper's Conservative policy agenda. While I strongly disagree with most of Flaherty's agenda (with the admission that there were some good pieces borne of his more pragmatic instincts), it is utterly sad to know a fellow human being is dead. The deceased Ontarian will be deeply missed by friends and family, including the many politicians he worked with and debated with.

Former Winnipeg blogger and prolific Winnipeg tweeter Scott MacNeil puts it best:

Friday, 4 April 2014

Transit supporters have a field day with Fielding

City Councillor Scott Fielding

Image Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Scott Fielding is the City Councillor for the St. James - Brooklands ward. This rightwing Councillor has pondered leading the provincial Conservatives in the past and is expected by local political observers like Bartley Kives and Aldo Smith to be planning a mayoral run.

Now, how's Fielding going to distinguish himself in what looks like it'll be a field of many suburban-based conservatives vying for the mayor's chair come fall?

By stridently opposing plans to move forward on rapid transit!

A brilliant idea in a city that's talked about and shelved rapid transit plans for 50 years, eh?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Winnipeg RAG Review in ... shorter form

The Winnipeg RAG Review's content is cut down
to size for social media.

Image Source: Broken City Lab
As one can see the post count here's fallen off quite a bit within the last year. Rest assured that this Blogger blog is still in operation, even if at a less prolific rate. Some drafts (that may or may not become actual posts) are stewing in background right now.

But what's an eager reader to do in between the long dry spells between posts here?

Well, there's now social media content for thoughts and reflections that just don't merit a full, long form blog post.

 For the super short form, you can follow yours truly and Art Cramer on Twitter as before.

But now The Winnipeg RAG Review facebook page is no longer just a repository of links back to blog posts here. Original content for stuff that needs to be said in more than 140 characters but still much less than a typical longish form blog post is now there. Plus, it's interlinked with The Analyst's twitter feed so that twitter followers of yours truly can get Facebook page updates directing them to writings with more meat than the average tweet. 

Hope that keeps you satisfied.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Global perspective on fight against anti-gay bullying

Manitoba Education minister Nancy Allan hugs
Evan Wiens - teen bullied on camera for efforts
to start a Gay-Straigh Alliance in his Steinbach School.

Bill 18 protects the rights of students across the province of
Manitoba to organize gay-straigh alliances.

Image Source: 
Craig Young of GayNZ.com wrote an article on efforts to fight bullying against LGBT students in New Zealand in September 2013. The fascinating article compares the efforts in New Zealand to similar struggles in the United States, the UK, and Canada - noting differing social contexts.

Particularly interesting, from my admittedly provincial perspective, is the singling out of Ontario and our own province of Manitoba as the two jurisdictions in Canada with laws fighting homophobic bullying. An earlier post in this blog is even included in the recommended readings section.

Overall, learning of the immense challenges that face LGTB students in schools should make us proud, as Manitobans, to have passed the Safe and Inclusive Schools measure of Bill 18. We have a long way to go towards a fully just society, but Bill 18 represents a series of needed and practical steps in the right direction. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Great idea, sure Winnipeg will get it...

... in 2150.

Protected Intersections For Bicyclists from Nick Falbo on Vimeo.

Now, it's good to see that bike infrastructure is on the upswing here. Thanks to tireless advocacy from Bike to the Future (now Bike Winnipeg) the Peg's meagre bikeways have expanded, including the very nice Assiniboine Avenue cycle track. Before much of the track was chopped off to provide parking for construction vehicles it served as a key part of many Winnipeg cyclists' trips. It still does, but in a much shorter section, which leads to awkward left turns onto the non-bikeway/motor vehicle side of Assiniboine Avenue.

The Disraeli Pedestrian Bridge and Pembina's buffered bike lanes add some connectivity to our bikeway network, but there's few places where with enough cycle tracks to necessitate protected intersections. Unless there's another round of $20 million Federal stimulus funds for Active Transporation and a mad rush to build them (which does lead to some hiccups with public consultation) it will be a very long time before the Peg's bikeways near the quality of Minneapolis's, let alone those of cities in the Netherlands.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

2011 lecture, attack ads, & nonvoters

In this lecture staged before the 2011 provincial election politics professor Shannon Sampert discusses negative ads and campaigning. Most of what she says is spot on.

There are, however, some issues when it comes to low voter turnout. True, some people (particularly those with middle incomes) tend to not vote as a sign of being okay with direction of Canada. But there are other groups of nonvoters who consistently don't turn out.

Take, for instance, aboriginal voters - who tend to vote at lower rates than the general population. While the data tends to be a bit thin, there's been waves of indigenous activism and internationally documented horrible living conditions in First Nations communities. This would seem to show that at least some aboriginal Canadians aren't satisfied with the direction of Canada, yet this fails to translate into ballot box activity.

Clearly, there's restless, non-complacent yet consistent non-voters out here that need to be mobilized.

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year's Resolution - A Progressive City Hall (Guest Post)

Note: This is a guest post from Babble member Aristotled24, expressing his perspective on the state of municipal politics and potential openings for the left. Much of it was written in fall of 2013 and some specific details are dated (Justin Swandel has since returned to Mayor Katz's Executive Policy Community). Nevertheless, many of the observations are still relevant as left-progressive Winnipeggers struggle to shape civic policy and clean up the mess  Sam's left. 

Will Sam Katz be laughing his way to reelection
this year?

For the sake of Winnipeg, let's hope not.
Image SourceBorris Minkevich/Winnipeg Free Press
As Sam Katz approaches the last year of his current mandate, he has continually run into difficulty since being re-elected. These difficulties include:
An ill-advised plan to build a water park near The Forks.

Being accused (and later acquitted) of conflict-of-interest in court.
Facing these challenges, if Katz decides to run again, he is certain to be re-elected
This is not a typo. Sam Katz could easily win again.
Small c-conservative faux populist Sam Katz came
out ahead of challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis in the 2010
Mayoral election.

Could a left progressive beat Katz or another business
backed conservative this year?
Image SourceBorris Minkevich/Winnipeg Free Press
You may be wondering how this could be, considering his unpopularity and the perception of him being corrupt. Yes, people may not like Sam Katz, but people also don’t like politicians in general. Interest in municipal politics is quite low generally, which confers an advantage to incumbents, especially incumbents with money. And pointing out Katz shortcomings will not necessarily inspire people to vote for someone else. 
People were in the mood for a new vision in the last civic election, but as Judy Wasylicia-Leis failed to communicate exactly what that new vision was, people either voted for “the devil they knew” in Sam Katz, or more of them simply disengaged. The left cannot expect to coast to victory on Sam Katz unpopularity, especially if the interests who backed Katz back a different mayoral candidate with a similar agenda. 
There is little evidence to show that the left has learned the lessons of 2010 and is prepared for 2014, but there is still hope. Here is what needs to be done:
1) Party’s Over For The NDP
Vision Vancouver: A model
forward for Winnipeg

Image Source:
The current process of NDP-endorsed candidates is deeply flawed. As political parties have no official standing at city hall, this gives opponents a perfect target to claim that “NDP insiders” are trying to “hijack” the elections. This strategy has not only been ineffective at electing members in areas that are not already staunchly NDP, but NDP-endorsed candidates could not win in their traditional strongholds of Daniel Macyntire and Elmwood. It also excludes a large share of progressive voters. For example, John Orlikow can be counted as one of council’s progressives, but would not have been elected in his ward if he had run under the traditional NDP banner. 
The left needs to broaden the base, and can look to Vancouver as an example, even though municipal parties in Vancouver have official standing. Instead of the rigid partisan alliances that exist provincially and federally, the left in Vancouver has organized itself into looser coalitions manifesting as COPE and Vision Vancouver. This does not rule out NDP participation, as any left-of-centre project will inevitably have NDP fingerprints, but the NDP must give up its need to be in control.
2) What Are The Issue.
Progressives in each ward should be in contact with one another about area issues. A great way to keep in touch includes regular town halls every few months, along the lines that were organized in the early days of the Winnipeg Citizen’s Coalition. They’re a great way to keep the grassroots networks intact, and ready to go, especially in areas not represented by progressive councillors. 
An important aspect of reaching out to voters is identifying issues, and having a plan, because this is something tangible voters can hold someone accountable to. This also gives voters the confidence to take the risk of electing a new person over the incumbent. It is not merely enough to campaign on transparency and accountability. Every politician campaigns on these things, even Stephen Harper campaigned on these things while in Opposition.
3) Pick Your Team
Be it scandals or low quality city services,
epitomized by iced in roads and brown water,
Sam Katz is vulnerable.

Image Source: "Winnipegger sunited against
crappy roads and conditions
In order for a progressive agenda to be realized, we need to elect progressive people to municipal government. To do that, we need to know the background of each candidate, and if applicable, the candidate’s voting record while on council. The Winnipeg Citizen’s Coalition released a report card during the last municipal election grading each councillor on particular issues, and assigned each a letter grade. Unfortunately, if you lived in a ward whose councillor did not pass or where your incumbent councillor was not running again, this guide was no use to you. A strategy like this needs to be well researched, and provide information about each candidate (record of community service, statements to the media, platform items, etc), and ideally endorse candidates, so that voters have an idea of which candidates will do what.
4 Early Bird Gets The Worm
Even though the official campaign period begins in May, whomever progressives back for Mayor needs to be chosen well in advance. This allows time to build the networks and connections that are needed to overcome the disadvantage of being a challenger. Brandon Mayor Shari Decter-Hirst announced her intention to run about one year ahead of the 2010 election. Whoever steps forward to challenge Sam Katz will need at least that much time, given that Winnipeg is that much larger and more challenging for someone without built-in name recognition.
Progressives in Winnipeg face an uphill road to 2014, but it is a challenge that can be met.