08 Dec

Open House at the Leg

As I have often done in past years, today, I attended the annual Open House at the Legislative Building. Despite my strong feelings against the current government in power, I think it is a fabulous idea to give the common folk a chance to not only tour the building itself, but to meet our elected and appointed MLAs.
I would encourage anyone who has not visited the “Leg”, as it is informally known, to take advantage of this opportunity that comes about every year at this time.
As is my custom, I arrived early and walked around, taking pictures as I went.


My first official stop was the chamber.

They don’t let you sit in any of the seats, but they do let you in to take pictures.
Starting on the first floor, I walked down one hall and stopped into Comrade Selby’s office. Her claim to fame is having been a reporter for A-Channel. When she first ran for office, Jack Reimer, the sitting MLA for the area, correctly referred to her as a “prop”. For some reason, he found the need to apologize for the remark.
I was her first customer of the day and both she and her assistant anxiously tried to ply me with assorted dainties. While looking around her office, I noticed some artwork on the wall behind her.
She proudly told me that it was the work of her children. She then pointed out the work of “Manitoba artists” on the opposite wall. Her children are not quite at Michelangelo’s level and likely will never be, but they had those other “Manitoba artists” beat.
The pink creature third from the left caught my attention specifically and she said that it was a flamingo. I suggested that it should be more appropriately placed in the office of the MLA for Transcona, since the community is known for its pink flamingos.
Moving on, I passed by the office of Dr. Jon Gerrard, the leader of the Irrelevant Party, which is more formally known as the Liberal Party of Manitoba. I made the mistake of looking inside his office and two of his staffers standing out in the hall tried to hustle me inside like carnival barkers. Thanks, but no thanks. Should he ever try and publish his memoirs, a good title would be “Desperately Seeking Relevance”.
I went upstairs and passed by the Grand Staircase, where one of the many choirs was performing.
As I do every year, I stopped at the Blue Room. This time, I actually got a half-decent picture.
One fault I have with the building is that it is so poorly lit. The Blue Room is particularly dimly lit, but, on this occasion, my camera performed well.
I walked into the Legislative Reading Room and took a couple of shots.

As I walked the halls, I took particular notice of the number of people wearing union jackets. It was a sad commentary on where the power lies in the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the performers on the Grand Staircase were singing Solidarity Forever instead of Christmas carols.

I stopped in and saw a couple of more members of the Politburo including Comrade Rondeau. This duck in his office caught my attention.

Comrade Rondeau was also passing out calendars.

Yes, an NDP cabinet minister was handing out calendars entitled “Money Matters: financial lessons for life”.
I need tips on money management from the NDP like I need speech lessons from Elmer Fudd.
Perhaps Comrade Rondeau should consider dropping off one of those calendars on his boss’s desk. Under the leadership of Comrade Selinger, Manitoba’s debt has hit record levels and grows with every passing day.
One particular member of the Politburo who I wanted to see was Peter Bjornson, whom I’ve met on two prior occasions. For those that know me, you may already be aware that Bjornson once taught the late Carli Ward, a dear friend of mine and the subject of my second book. Sadly, he was away on business. Oh well.
I covered the rest of the building without finding Brian Pallister, the new Leader of the Opposition. The door to his office was closed and unless I missed him in the PC Caucus room, he was conspicuous by his absence. Even if I did miss him, for someone seeking to be the next Premier, one would think that he, of all people, would have made a much stronger effort to make himself prominently available. Either way, it was a significant faux pas.
After more than an hour, my tour of the Leg came to an end. I always find it interesting to visit and I did not regret the trip.
03 Dec

Misplaced Blame

As the most recent NHL lockout lingers on, the only thing that surprises me more than the intransigence of the owners is the number of people in Winnipeg who are firmly in their favor.

Without question, there’s plenty of blame to go around on all sides.
Yes, the players make gobs of money. More than the average person on the street can comprehend.
So do the owners.
Revenue is growing at unprecedented levels. The owners are making money hand over fist.
And it is the owners who decided to shut the league down in order to get even more.
In past disputes between players and owners, there were justifiable reasons on each side.
Players held out for the right to be able to have more freedom to choose where they wanted to work. This is a right that most of us take for granted. With a limited window of opportunity to enjoy the fruits of a career at the NHL level, who can blame them for wanting to be able to ply their trade with the team of their choosing at a salary dictated by a free market system?
By the same token, owners have every right to ensure that their business remains economically viable. They have invested large sums of money and are entitled to reap the rewards from that investment. The “cost certainty” that the owners fought for has enabled all of the league’s franchises to thrive on and off the ice.
This dispute has no such honorable motives.
This lockout is about nothing more than pure, unadulterated greed.
The NHL’s owners, including Mark Chipman, are playing us all for suckers. And I know that I’m not the only one who is utterly disgusted.
The day after this past season ended, I called my television service provider and proudly cancelled my NHL Center Ice subscription. I enjoyed watching the Dallas Stars, but I’m not coming back.
Yet, many fans in Winnipeg paint Chipman as an innocent victim and cry foul because the players have the audacity not to capitulate.
Chipman is not innocent. His vote counts the same as hard-liners like Jeremy Jacobs in Boston. He is no more or less responsible for the current lockout than any of the rest of them.
The players are giving in. But they’re just not giving in as much as the owners would like. Led by stronger leadership than they’ve ever had in their history, they’re not just going to fold like a house of cards.
The longer the lockout goes on, the more entrenched each side will become. It could be years before the stalemate is broken. Both sides are digging in like soldiers on the western front in the Great War.
In the meantime, as far as I’m concerned, Gary Bettman, Mark Chipman and Don Fehr can all join hands and jump in the nearest lake.
Don’t bother hollering for a life preserver.