Right in the Centre - Seeking the truth


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

“31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John Chapter 8, New International Version.
The above quotation, especially verse 32 is often quoted. No politician that I have known quoted it more often than former NDP premier Gary Doer.

I heard him say it many times. He didn’t always follow it as he often would shout in the Manitoba legislature, “The Conservatives fired 1,000 nurses.” That wasn’t true, and he knew it, but the effect of that convenient sound bite resonated so well and sucked both the media and portions of the voting public into believing it.

No matter how many times it was refuted, many people accepted the fired nurses statement as truth. What I understand actually happened is that in the 1990s, individual hospitals and care homes contracted with nurses. When regionalization took place, those contracts were terminated and converted to contracts with the regions. Just as a matter of interest, the current Prairie Mountain Region is made up of several of the 1990s version regions and now stretches basically from the US border to Swan River and from Hwy 34 to the Saskatchewan border.

The nurses were not fired but given new contracts. There were a few less nurses in positions due to moving out of province and retirements but I was told it was less than 100.

The point is that with a Manitoba election coming up, the three political parties, the unions and many others will be offering up their version of the truth. I say “version of the truth” as the actual truth may be elusive.

The Progressive Conservatives will say that they got through COVID-19, have made extra expenditures to help people offset the cost of federal carbon tax, are funding several rec centres and new hospitals and reducing school taxes on property. The opposition parties and unions representing government workers will claim that the PCs bungled C-19, have cut health care dollars and aren’t spending nearly enough on numerous other projects.
I have spoken to politicians and union people both personally and through this column. It is hopefully apparent to them and readers in general that when it comes to history, politics and policies that this paper will not knowingly publish things that aren’t true. This paper will also offer various opinions on the pages by way of columns and letters to the editor.

I am not saying we haven’t fallen short from time to time but readers should expect the truth and if a statement isn’t true, it better be in quotation marks and attributed to a particular person, political party or union.

Voters have a responsibility to evaluate all they hear and read and decide what is true and what is simply political posturing. In keeping with the Bible quote at the top of this column, it is only the truth that sets people free.

Not knowing the truth, or not accepting it, is what nearly destroyed the United States over slavery. Rather than fight the deadliest war, the Civil War, the United States could have spent the cash to compensate the slave owners. And that’s just the cost in dollars and doesn’t include the deaths, injuries, agony and discord that still affects the US today.

Not telling the residents about the sale of the huge tracts of land in Manitoba in 1869 and the plans to develop the agricultural capacity of the west, has scarred Canada’s relations with the Metis and First Nations people to this day.

In today’s era, health care is a big topic and it has been splattered with untruths for decades. Canadian medicare was not invented by Tommy Douglas but by Matt Anderson, the reeve of the RM of McKillop, Saskatchewan. It was operated on a municipal level after being adopted by a provincial Liberal government in 1938. It was well over 20 years before it came into effect for all of Saskatchewan and then Canada. Tommy Douglas worked hard for medicare, but he was not the father, not even close.

Today, the theme is that health care needs more money but if you talk to anybody in the industry, from workers to politicians to union leaders, money is not the whole answer. Money may not even be the most important factor. The common theme is that front line workers are not consulted enough.

Truth is found in the trenches and it’s rare for politicians or union leaders to actually visit the trenches and actually seek the truth.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.