Right in the centre - Weird things from the election trail


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

The municipal elections are over. Due to the election being on Wednesday and due to the fact our papers go to print on Wednesday at 2 p.m., we won’t have results in this week’s paper. We will get the results up on our web site as soon as we can.

The municipal election has been weird. Some towns have very large numbers of candidates, eight, 11, even 13 in one place. That level of candidate choice and interest has not been seen for a long time. Maybe never!

The issues have been common place in some places and puzzling in others. We hear lots about transparency, accountability and holding the line on taxes. Transparency and accountability should be the expected norm. Holding the line on taxes is a bit tougher as most towns and RMs have a huge problem with water, road and sewer infrastructure being in pretty tough shape. There may come a day when some paved roads will have to be ground up and turned back to gravel. Taxes may have to go up, but a more palatable solution would be to have some more efficiency at the federal level and have the feds give out per capita or per mile grants to local governments.

The Winnipeg mayoral race has centred on one main (and silly in my opinion) issue and that is re-opening the Portage and Main intersection to pedestrian traffic. Wow! Opening a very wide and dangerous intersection seems like a bad use of scarce tax dollars, when Winnipeg’s streets are just as bad as many smaller towns’ streets. There are potholes across Winnipeg and in other centres that could devour a car, but some people think that opening P and M is a great idea. Better that Winnipeg crack down on panhandlers, the drug trade and expand homeless shelters and drug treatment centres.

There are weird things also happening in provincial politics, as witnessed by three Manitoba MLAs being booted from their respective caucuses. One was for disagreeing with the party on an issue, two were for alleged inappropriate words or actions. I know two of the MLAs quite well and it’s tough to watch political careers go down that road.

It’s doubtful if any of the three will have future political success, but you never know. Just look to Ontario for an example. Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown was run out of town for alleged sexual misconduct. He re-emerged on Monday night this past week as the duly elected mayor of Brampton. He beat an incumbent woman mayor. Considering all he was accused of, that is quite the political comeback. 

The political process is a complicated one. Perhaps you had a chance to read the column in last week’s papers across Manitoba that was drawn up by the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. There is an ad on the same topic this week. The PC Manitoba government has stepped into a bucket of barn yard products again and the MCNA has taken strong exception to their mistake. Bill 8, in the present form, is just plain bad for democracy.

It remains to be seen how it will all turn out. In politics, strange things can often happen.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.