LAMONT STRIKES OUT

by Graham Lane

Published by the Winnipeg Sun, October 27, 2017

Dugald Lamont came from nowhere to take the helm of the long-suffering provincial Liberal Party. He starts his leadership poorly by joining in Steven Fletcher’s former PC colleagues bad-mouthing of Fletcher. Lamont’s slap to Fletcher’s face was unnecessary and just plain stupid.

Still to win his first electoral victory, and with little real political experience – not even a school board stint – Lamont shut the door for a chance of obtaining a real experienced politician. One that is a demonstrably highly intelligent MLA that could have provided the Liberals instant official party status in the legislature – bringing a much better chance to gain government in 2020.

The ‘fruits’ of gaining official party status include money to do research, develop positions, and prepare for the 2020 election. With Fletcher the Liberals would attract more attention by the media and gain more opportunities to speak in the legislature. All of this and more if Lamont had the wisdom to be quiet on the Fletcher option, taking time to assess the situation before speaking.

The right thing was to discuss the situation with Fletcher, exploring the pros and cons of engaging Fletcher for his team . Who knows what the result would have been? With Fletcher, the self-described “only real conservative” in the legislature fold, the well-polling Liberals would have been able to say that a vote for them would bring sensible fiscal actions along with progressive social policies.

Consider what Fletcher would bring to a new caucus, if not a Liberal one a new one yet to be formed. His experience includes stints as President of the U of M’s student union, a cabinet minister (twice) in Harper’s Conservative government, and, most recently, a MLA in Pallister’s “NDP lite” PC government. Fletcher would be beyond value to a new inexperienced and unelected new Liberal party leader.

Smart people look for talent and experience, befriend them and draw on their knowledge – formed from years of experience. Stupid leaders seek out ‘yes’ colleagues, any knowledge and experience found there crushed by their desire to be ‘liked’.

As Lamont looks at the three sitting Liberal MLAs – one short of bringing on official party status, how could he not realize that Fletcher would have strengthened ‘his’ team? Jon Gerrard is the only one of the three that can be described as experienced and knowledgeable. He, by the way, gets along famously with Fletcher. But, the only way Lamont has a chance of getting into the legislature before 2020 is convincing Gerrard to resign his seat to allow Lamont to win the seat back in a by-election. But, there is no guarantee Lamont would win that by-election. Even if he did, he would still be left with only three members, not the four he needs.

Lamont has another option to get the coveted official party prize. He could seek the independent MLA that was elected as a NDP only to be ejected for reputed sexual harassment. How could a new Liberal leader with only two women MLAs (if Gerrard steps down) take that route? How? Surely he is not that stupid.

Lamont’s smartest option was to try recruit Fletcher. Now, Lamont targets not the PCs but the NDP, leaving the right and centre to the stumbling Brian Pallister. Fail!

PREYING ON THE POPULATION

by Graham Lane
Published by the Winnipeg Sun on October 19, 2017

Mayor Bowman came into office wearing the clothing of a fiscal conservative. But, his administration has proven an enormous disappointment to city taxpayers.

Instead of focusing on long-standing spendthrift city policies and inept cost management, Bowman, complicit with his mostly silent elected colleagues and the city’s old style bureaucracy, seeks the easy and traditional way forward — find new revenues and grow existing revenue sources, even if there are innovative ways to transform and improve city services without spending more money.

It is not only the big revenue-clawing ploys: property tax, raiding water and sewer revenue, transit tolls, and the constant crying for more money from the provincial and federal governments. Growing in significance as Bowman and crew continues to ignore rising city costs in favour of new revenue are exorbitant traffic fines, new so-called development impact fees (to address the myth that new subdivisions are not covering their costs), enhanced frontage taxes, parking charges and inspection and permit fees.

Perhaps Bowman has innocently been diverted from cost control, instead pandering to the media on problems beyond the scope of city government.

Like combatting racism? He should focus on things he can impact.

Such as, why are taxpayers set to pay $5 million to $6 million a year more for garbage collection? Didn’t city bureaucrats like the previous contractor? Why does Winnipeg have the most cops per capita? Sell their helicopter and armoured SWAT vehicle?

Try selling your business: fear the city’s costly inspection ahead of costly permits. Most likely you will wait and wait, and when it finally arrives, hope major renovations are not ordered.

Like psychiatrists forced to move from Grace Hospital looking for a new roost. That roost itself wanting to move, but unable because the city demands unnecessary improvements to their preferred site. What about a hairdresser: wanting to retire and sell her salon, only to learn that in the change of ownership expensive but unnecessary remodelling will be required — ending the sale?

The city recently bragged as to its new impact tax revenues, forgetting the impact this latest cash grab has on future new housing developments within the city’s boundaries. It’s a bonanza for housing construction outside the perimeter, which avoids the extra $10 grand per house foisted on purchasers inside the perimeter.

The city claims it wants more retail business and residences downtown, but boosts parking rates to ever more lucrative levels. Park downtown, below Portage Place or Main and Portage, and now the Forks, and watch the fivers fly out of your wallet. Of course, just more reason to enjoy free parking at Polo Park, St Vital and other malls.

But, swelling city bureaucracy and service units are doing just fine. Every public works job, however small, appears to require four or more employees — one to hold the flag, one to drive the truck, one to sweep the road, and one to put up a barrier. No wonder knowledgeable construction and development sources claim public works costs 30% or more than private works.

Let us hope that when the next city election is held we have mayoral and councillor candidates that know something useful about improving city services while lowering costs — i.e. placing priority on running an efficient and effective operation.

Climate change madness

by Graham Lane
Published by the Winnipeg Sun on October 12, 2017

It has been a bad week for the climate change lobby.

After spending a billion on regulatory ballet, Trans Canada gave up on trying to build the Energy East pipeline.

It would have created thousands of construction jobs while substituting Alberta oil for foreign tanker-conveyed imported oil.

The decision caused shock waves across western Canada. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blamed the federal liberals for “moving the goal posts” — more climate change related overkill.

They added a requirement to include the pipeline’s downstream carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Trans Canada’s impact calculations. This nonsense would be similar to adding in Ontario’s auto industry CO2 emissions from cars sold.

It’s just more climate change madness — trying to regulate a harmless trace gas (carbon dioxide) erroneously tied to “dangerous” global warming in flawed computer models.

The higher temperatures predicted for years coincide with no actual warming for almost two decades. Which is why “global warming” was changed to climate change, allowing every major weather event to be part of the ‘climate crisis’.

Flawed alarmist models underpin policies causing real economic harm to folks without any discernible impacts, as our politicians claim, on our weather.

In particular, the demonizing of comparatively cheap and reliable hydro-carbon energy sources has opened the door for new and higher taxes and policy mischief for green subsidy seekers, central planners, and revenue-hungry politicians.

Anti-carbon dioxide orthodoxy and overreach works best when all governments are simultaneously knee capping their economies with CO2 taxes, bans on coal, gas fracking and new pipelines. All while providing renewable energy subsidies.

That was the world of the U.N.’s Paris Climate agreement until Trump.

The mercurial Donald Trump was elected, at the margin, by displaced populations in mid-western coal mining states voting against the Democrats’ anti-coal climate change policies. Out the door went the climate change orthodoxy of surreptitiously strangling hydrocarbons while boosting less reliable and more expensive renewables with false talk of fighting ‘carbon pollution’.

The U.S. is exiting the Paris Climate Agreement and their pipelines are now swiftly approved. Most conspicuously, Canada’s Keystone Pipeline will bring Alberta oils sands production to American refineries.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a haven for green activists masquerading as neutral civil servants while spearheading the anti-hydrocarbon campaign, is being defanged.

This week’s “Trumpquake” had new EPA boss Scott Pruitt confirming the end of the Obama Clean Power Plan. It had the EPA taking over state level power industries, mandating expensive renewables while abolishing coal.

Next on the list, recognizing that CO2 is not a pollutant, is the reversal of the so-called endangerment finding which empowers the EPA to regulate C02.

All this means cheaper energy to the south of us. Watch investment and jobs gradually flood south!

Clueless to competitive realities, our federal Liberal government is stuck in the Obama era “La La land” of carbon taxes and green religion.

Western Canada separation chatter begins again. The Pallister Carbon tax is about to rip Manitoba’s political fabric, while the Alberta NDP and its carbon tax will be on death row come 2019, both to be expunged by a newly-merged Unified Conservative Party, promising a referendum on federal equalization grants — which now aids Quebec’s green political aristocracy.

All this for what?

Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca)

Pallister tries to clip Fletcher’s wings

By: Graham Lane
Published by the Winnipeg Sun on October 5, 2017

This week, speaker of Manitoba’s Legislature Myrna Driedger showed off changes to the chamber making it wheelchair accessible. The only wheelchair-bound MLA, Steven Fletcher, rejoiced, not just for his own improved mobility in the chamber but for opportunities now available for future wheelchair-bound MLAs, cabinet ministers and even premiers.

Yet, this same week, with physical barriers in the chamber removed, Fletcher still has no freedom to speak and associate freely within in it. The legislated “floor crossing” restriction stands until it is either struck down through Fletcher’s court action or by legislative action. The current law — which unconstitutionally removes his right to free expression — places him in an odd state of limbo as a kicked-out conservative independent.

Despite previous comments including an announcement by the Pallister government that it intends to amend the currently existing restrictive law, suggesting it will not fight Fletcher’s application to lift the restriction preventing him from finding a new political home, the situation remains unclear. So far, the government has acted to mute Fletcher in the legislature. Now, as the “play” continues, Fletcher may not have his day in court and final “freedom” until late November, and perhaps much longer.

Fletcher remains an independent — kicked out by Pallister for having the temerity of opposing two of Pallister’s biggest policy duds so far. One, a carbon tax money grab that will damage private investment and taxpayers’ disposable income without any impact on the climate, the other an energy-conservation crown corporation that will subsidize well-off folk to buy solar panels (to lower electricity demand just as more surplus power from the NDP-driven Keeyask dam looms).

Except for raising issues of privilege, independents have few opportunities to speak in the legislature and committees, and are denied supports such as research budgets. The rules make it difficult for them to serve their constituency and province.

Steven Fletcher may be the only real fiscal conservative in the chamber. His “platform” is closer to the platform Pallister ran on during the election. Fletcher has extensive federal cabinet experience and strong public policy “chops” — something that a government with pathetically little serious cabinet-level policy capacity should welcome.

The trouble is, Pallister has proved to be the ultimate “NDP-lite” policy dilettante — his my-way-is-the-highway leadership model has caucus members functioning more as potted plants instead of experienced or knowledgeable colleagues/advisors. Single-handedly, he tries to run a sprawling public sector like a small town insurance office. The result is near paralysis morphing into desperate “Hail Mary” actions, the opposite of the transformative policy-making Manitoba desperately needs. For example, the new health tax being proposed, which is precisely the opposite of what our costly and low-performing health system needs.

Fletcher opposes carbon and healthcare taxes. Ditto with respect to more crown corporations and closed-shop privileges for unions on government capital projects. He finds Hydro’s rate proposal much too high, noting that government action brought about the boondoggle. He seeks an expanded regulatory mandate for PUB (to provide the regulator a say on large capital projects), and a proper inquiry into the debacle.

Fletcher is a compassionate conservative who is seeking reduced bureaucracy, taxes, and fees.

Continuing to clip Fletcher’s freedom of association should stop, now.

— Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward.