Category Archives: Winnipeg

26 Jun

Winnipeg’s Next Mayor

Of late, I have been paying attention to the embryonic stages of Winnipeg’s mayoralty campaign as prospective candidates and candidateettes jockey for your vote in the hopes of succeeding Slippery Sam Katz at City Hall.

I think many Winnipeggers share my opinion that Katz has more than overstayed his welcome in the mayor’s chair and needs to go. His recent decision not to stand for re-election was perhaps the smartest move he’s made in several years.

The question now remains as who will succeed him. Thus far, the four most prominent contenders don’t look impressive.

For starters, there’s Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Only a dead-red socialist like her could inspire a run to the ballot box to support Sam Katz and it was likely only her candidacy that earned Katz another term. I’ve listened as she’s promised to magically fix all the roads and sewers with her Midas-like touch and put a critter in every pot, all while keeping tax increases modest and predictable.

If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

I used the line in the last civic election that Sam Katz is like a wart on your finger. Voting for Judy is the moral equivalent of cutting off your arm at the shoulder to get rid of it.

I was intrigued by Brian Bowman’s candidacy until I heard him speak at Socialism Illustrated’s so-called “News Café.” He calls himself a conservative, but he sounded every bit like a member of the NDP. I was shocked when he almost seemed to support the recent PST increase and he even had the nerve to suggest that if the province had held a referendum on the PST increase, as was required by law, it would pass. To quote a former friend of mine, “What’s he been smoking?” If he is a member of either the Manitoba PC Party or the federal Conservative Party, I hope he has enough honor to turn in his membership card. I don’t agree with Judy’s leftist leanings, but I at least respect her for being honest and straightforward about them.

Bowman may be new to the political arena, but he is one smooth operator. Too smooth, in fact. Reported connections between him and the Chipman family make me even less inclined to support him. I don’t want Sam Katz, Jr. as the next mayor any more than I want Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Paula Havixbeck seemed to make the most sense to me and I would probably lean towards supporting her. She’ll probably garner some sympathy votes for being a single mother, but otherwise, I don’t think she has enough name recognition to win the election. She might also be getting in over her head.

When I heard Gord Steeves speak, he reminded me of the line in one of the Peanuts episodes when Lucy was talking about Charlie Brown. Wishy one day, washy the next. I would rather see him in office than either of Judy or Brian Bowman, but I certainly didn’t get much of a positive impression from him. He would probably qualify as the “do nothing, mind the store” candidate, attributes that could potentially make him appealing. Many past mayors and councillors have won elections as the least undesirable option, but I’m not sure he has a high enough profile to pull it off.

I think many in Winnipeg are thrilled that Sam Katz will be gone after this coming election. Who will succeed him, however, may be no better and could very well be worse, perhaps even much worse. Don’t be surprised if Katz’s legacy begins to look much better as the years go by.

09 May

Ode to a Failed Bike Thief

A bum spots a bike that looks like an easy hit
Despite the onlooking crowd, he doesn’t hesitate a bit

He tries to pry the lock free
But soon realizes this is not a case for ingenuity

He gives the lock a mighty tug hoping it will break
This guy is lower than a snake

Time and again, he pulls with all his might
He finally gives up and disappears from sight

Disgusted, he returns and yanks on it one more time
But all his work didn’t net him a dime

If he put that kind of effort into finding a job
He wouldn’t need to steal and rob

03 May

Classic Bus Story

This morning, I saw a bus pulling out of the Polo Park bus loop. Someone on the sidewalk behind me must have wanted that bus, so he took off in full sprint after it. I got out of his way and watched as he put Jesse Owens to shame while the bus sat and waited at Portage Avenue.

I didn’t think he had much of a chance to catch it, but he completed the 40-yard dash in a time that would make NFL scouts swoon and made it to within spitting distance of the bus.

Then the bus took off.

A knife to the gut that only Winnipeg Transit can deliver.

Been there.

Done that.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or both.

20 Apr

Random Act of Malice

Seconds after leaving Deacon’s Corner today, I spotted a curious-looking item lying in middle of the shoulder.

12_knife
In my travels, I see plenty of junk lying on the road and in the ditch. There are times I think there is more garbage on the side of Manitoba highways than there is in the Brady Road landfill site. Unfortunately, this was no ordinary piece of trash cavalierly discarded out of a motorist’s window.

12_knife-2

As you can see, this is a steak knife, deliberately and carefully placed with the blade up, just waiting for an unsuspecting motorist or cyclist to drive over it and Saskatchewanize their tire. As I investigated further, I noticed that someone had kicked enough sand up to the base to keep it upright so the wind wouldn’t blow it over.

Inconsiderate behavior in this part of the world hardly warrants front-page news. This stunt, however, struck me as particularly insidious. The sick-minded individual who planted this booby trap on the highway might call it clever, but other words such as malicious and nasty come to mind. In any event, I foiled this person’s attempt at humor by kicking the knife off the highway.

Another day, another random act of malice in the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba.

09 Apr

More Manitoba Moments

A bum heads for a dumpster and pokes his head in
He moves on quickly, the pickings must be slim

Another aimlessly wanders across the road not caring where the cars were
Speeding traffic was evidently of little concern to her

20140409_starvedforattention

An attention-starved jogger illegally runs on the street, this is rude
It’s too bad Winnipeg cops don’t have the balls to ticket this obnoxious dude

20140409_hireing

Someone is “hireing” a new employee
This place doesn’t see the need to use a dictionary

Moving indoors, a pillar of these great lands
Takes a leak and leaves without washing his hands

Then another stands next to me
Grunting like a stuck pig as he takes a pee

I followed someone whose pants had a large trap door
There was a rip down his leg two feet or more

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If you order chicken “shnitzel” at this restaurant when they ring the dinner bell
Hope they can cook better than they can spell

Yet another adventure in the heart of this mecca of socialism
Leaves me only with an increased level of cynicism

19 Mar

More Rudeness in Winnipeg

Rudeness comes in all forms. In Winnipeg, it permeates every corner of the city and is hardly noteworthy when it happens. Politeness has increasingly gone out of style and the “Friendly Manitoba” moniker on the license plates is an urban legend that ceased to be appropriate more than a decade ago.

But when an elderly woman hobbling around in a walker displays the type of boorishness normally associated with a juvenile delinquent, even a hardened soul like myself pays attention.

While on Henderson Highway recently, I came up to a crosswalk. A man on the east side of the street pressed the walk button, waited for cars to stop and began crossing. At the curb on the west side was this elderly woman leaning on her walker who evidently also wanted to cross the street. With the cars stopped and lights flashing, she had ample opportunity to step out on to the street and cross at the same time.

But she chose not to do so.

Instead, she deliberately waited until the man had crossed and had both feet on the west side before stepping out into the street, thus delaying traffic much longer. She might as well have been holding a sign that read “Up Yours.”

Meanwhile, she had not cared enough to press the walk button again and the lights had long since stopped flashing. An inattentive motorist could easily have gone through the crosswalk without knowing someone was trying to cross. I can just imagine the outcry of support that she would have received if she had been hit.

We generally give the elderly much more respect than we do others. And in Winnipeg, this is how it is returned.

“Friendly Manitoba” indeed.

07 Feb

New Jets Book

I am pleased to announce the release of my newest title, Coming Up Short, the comprehensive history of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (1979-1996). The 294-page paperback edition and accompanying Kindle edition covers the original Jets’ 17-year NHL history in exhaustive detail.

To purchase the paperback edition, please click here and for the electronic edition, please click here.

It is written by a fan, for fans, to remember their team’s legacy with equal parts fondness, anguish and humor. The Jets of the NHL were anything but a successful team, but they were a vital and beloved member of the community they called home.

This book is the culmination of years of research and I hope all fans of the original Jets enjoy reading it just as much as I did in putting it together.

Among the people who I would like to thank are Kerry Kotlarchuk, the original “Benny,” who provided his memoir and some valued pictures; Morris Lukowich, who spent countless hours on the phone with me; and the staff at the micromedia counter on the third floor at the Millennium Library in downtown Winnipeg. I have no doubt that they’re wondering where their most frequent customer has gone.

06 Feb

Another Bus Adventure

When I got on the bus this morning, standing in front of the fare box
Was a young woman with long, brown locks

With so much room, she still chose to block our way
Did she not want us to pay?

I sat down opposite a teenage girl, her smile unnaturally wide and bright
Perhaps there was some white powdery substance travelling up her nostrils last night

Needing directions, an older gentleman asked the driver to be a sleuth
He thought the bus was a mobile tourist information booth

A young punk darting in front of the bus nearly caused the health care system to be billed
Because he came a whisker away from getting killed

I don’t take the bus very often, yet there’s always a story to be told
Each time I use Transit Tom in this bitter cold

30 Jan

Dodging the Bums

I ventured into the core area yesterday hoping to be left alone, if you please
Instead, the bums were swarming like a hive of Africanized bees

Waiting for a bus, a bum held his hands in my face looking for a donation
All he got was my consternation

He kept prodding until he got a response, but he had to figure something was amiss
Long before I told him what part of my anatomy he could kiss

He kept moving down the street
Accosting every person he would meet

Later on, after I finished using a pay phone
Another one approached me looking for a forgivable loan

80 cents is what he wanted from me
“Get lost,” is what I told him angrily

Instead, I should have asked him for a rebate
On the taxes I paid to line his pocket and fill his plate

Another went into the bathroom and took a leak
Walked right by the sink, probably hasn’t washed in a week

Such is the state of the downtown core
One thing’s for sure, it’s never a bore

24 Jan

Lost Dog Epidemic

As I walk the streets of this snow-covered community in the bitter cold, I am noticing an epidemic of lost dog signs.


In the past, I have noticed occasional signs for a lost dog from time to time, but never anywhere close to the number that I’ve seen recently. Lost dogs have apparently become such a problem that there’s even a Web site at www.winnipeglostdogalert.com, where dog owners can go for help in finding their lost dogs.

I am not a dog owner, nor do I have any affinity for dogs, but I do feel badly for the dogs in question. Domesticated animals are ill-equipped to live on their own and being outside their homes in this extreme cold can effectively be a death sentence.

Seeing these signs and the desperate pleas from their owners leads me to wonder why these dogs are getting lost in the first place. Certainly, accidents do happen, but there are so many people in this city who take their dogs out and let them roam free with impunity and/or handle their dog’s call of nature by “letting the dog out,” often to do its business in their neighbor’s yard.

These same people will then act so surprised when their dog, set loose from captivity, decides to go for a little adventure around the neighborhood, gets lost or just chooses not to return.

You can hardly blame such an animal. Anyone on the Prairies understands the concept of cabin fever. Most humans, however, know how to get home. Many dogs do not.

Perhaps if these same dog owners spent half the time and effort in keeping their dogs penned up as they did in printing and distributing these signs, their dogs would be safe and sound at home.