The Winnipeg RAG Review

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A blog to take on the real RAG (Rightwing, Absolute Garbage) pieces that are printed in Winnipeg's press. This blog will house analysis and commentary on relevant social, political, and economic issues distorted by the RAG machine.
Updated: 44 min 49 sec ago

Jim Flaherty, RIP

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 08:30
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:

Guilty of oft attacking policy choices of Flaherty the politician; my sincere condolences to the family of Jim Flaherty the man. #Cdnpoli
— Scott MacNeil (@WinnipegFatArse) April 10, 2014

Transit supporters have a field day with Fielding

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 08:30
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?

Fielding frames his opposition to moving forward on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as just being about priorities. He wants the potholes fixed and various infrastructure mega-projects done first before working on BRT. Funny thing is, when people stall on rapid transit they end up not getting around to it for a very long time.

Sam Katz, like a mayor Fielding would, inherited BRT plans from the previous mayor - then former Mayor Glen Murray. Murray would run federally for the Liberals, lose, move to Toronto and become an urban consultant before jumping into Ontario provincial politics as an MMP. Winnipeg progressives to this day lament Murray's failure to follow through with implementation, as Katz stalled on the plans and redirected funds dedicated to rapid transit for other uses.

Other levels of government were not happy, especially given many conditional on BRT funding agreements had been made. For years, Katz wrangled with the Province and the Feds until he finally recognized blindingly obvious reality and started work on the BRT line in the 2010s. By 2012 we had 3.6 km of rapid transit line through the uncompleted Southwest Transitway.

Right now there's a $600 million deal between the Province, Federal Government, and City to extend the Southwest Transitway.

Fielding is taking a page from the Katz playbook and wants to stall this plan.

He keeps talking about the $600 Million for the Southwest Transitway extension as if it $600 million in free money. But $375 Million comes from other levels of government, just as was the case with the various rapid transit deals Katz blew. In the end, Katz managed to keep some of the funds as it was a competitive political environment of minority governments back then, where every City mattered. We can't count on being so lucky next time.

If Scott Fielding or a City Council influenced by his mindset blows the Southwest Transitway extension deal, we as a City could be out of $375 Million in critical funds for the investment.

That's a risk we can't take. 

Fortunately, transit supporters haven't taken to kindly to Scott Fielding's transit games.

[View the story "Scott Fielding defends plan to stall Rapid Transit" on Storify]

Taking a page from the Rob Ford playbook, Fielding accused me of a "war on automobiles" in a subsequently deleted tweet.

Winnipeg, we just can't let someone with a Rob Ford mindset steer our city into the gutter. We need to realize that in the long run a rapid transit system provides real road relief by giving people the choice of not driving in our City.

As the roads are relieved of the strain of many cars through transit choices they'll face less wear and tear. Our road maintenance costs will plummet.

This is why, if you really care about our declining roads, you must fight for a rapid transit system. Scott Fielding is dead wrong and as mayor he could really harm our City.

The Winnipeg RAG Review in ... shorter form

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 08:30
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.