Again with the censorship…

A while back I posted about the freep disallowing comments on David Harper’s trip to see the pope:

https://bgilchrist.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/freep-is-becoming-a-running-joke/

Now they are at it again:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/flood/winnipeg/First-Nations-protest-against–120971704.html

We will no longer accept comments on this story as submissions have been consistently unacceptable.

They are protesting because INAC has said they will no longer pay for hotel rooms for people evacuated because of flooding.

Maybe comments are unacceptable, because putting them up in hotels is unacceptable?

Would you have published  comments if they had slammed INAC for doing this?

Nice job (again) Freep!

Kudos to Jenny!!

Well, if you have read my previous blog posts and postings on forums I frequent, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that I’m not even close to a Jenny Gerbasi booster.

I’m not a fan of someone who runs on the platform “opposite of the incumbent mayor”

But I really have to congratulate her on this. This is brilliant. We got this at work today – her constituent newsletter:

Why am I impressed with this?

It’s not attacking the mayor or any of the other right leaning councilors

It’s not a thinly veiled attempt to trumpet one political ideology over another.

It contains constituent information – useful information for constituents.

And it’s positive – trumpets the local community.

And all the pictures of her are small and not meant to be the focus of this. Focus is on community events.

Compared to where I live – I get nothing from my councilor, a paper full of nothing but pictures of my MLA glad handing and what can be only described as thinly veiled election literature( for 11 years), and 10%er  type mailings from my MP.

Jenny has done a good job on this-perhaps elected representatives from other levels of government should take a look at how it should be done.

Good Job Jenny.

Because it’s all about safety…..

Both the Mayor and the NDP provincial government have suggested that placement of red light camera and photo radar. It has nothing to do with revenue generation and that’s why you see all those photo radar vans parked outside the far ends of school yards at 7am Sunday mornings. I know I wake my kids up super early on Sunday so they can get to the schoolyard to play before 7am.

Safety, yeah right.

Anyway, let me tell you about an incident that happened earlier this week. I was driving north on Pembina in morning rush hour traffic. I came to a controlled cross walk in the middle lane. A pedestrian had crossed the other side, reached the median, hit the button and was about to continue crossing. Both the car in the median lane and I had stopped. I had come to a complete stop and the car in the curb lane whizzed through the cross walk. The pedestrian was still in front of the car in the median lane, so no real danger but a flagrant violation of the traffic law. As the pedestrian walked in front of me  I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed another car approaching in the curb lane. There was no way this car would be able to stop. So I hammered my horn – the pedestrian stopped and the car in the curb lane skidded to a stop in the crosswalk. Had I not hit the horn, surely the pedestrian would have been killed – that’s how fast the driver in the curb lane was going.

So why do I recount this story?

Because lets just pretend for a moment that it is all about safety. Wouldn’t it do a better job of making the streets safer and changing people’s driving habits if they took these photo radar units and some of the red light cameras and installed them at controlled cross walks so they would catch people blowing through them after the lights have activated?

And if it is all about safety, how about  incremental fines? $200 first offense, a second in a year is $500 and a third is $2000 with a six to twelve month license suspension.

Of course when it’s all about safety, that might really change peoples behaviour.

But how do you replace that revenue if you actually change behaviour?

Of course – it’s all about safety.

Some points on last week’s provincial budget

So the provincial budget was tabled last week. There was some good, some bad, but overall I’m disappointed.

A) The biggest item seems to be increasing the personal income tax exemption. Cherenkov has a good post on how the exemptions aren’t indexed here. So I’m not going to revisit that.

However, personal income tax rates are a comparative thing. You should be able to see comparable tax rates for comparable level of service or standards of living. I’ve left QC out, because they have a different social services system so you can’t compare. But here’s a graph of the exemption rates since 2005 and projected to 2014. Now, my projections for other provinces may be off as I have used an average of the increases for the past 5 years, but I think you still get the idea: We’re rapidly turning into the newfoundland people joked about in the 80’s:

There is quite the difference between Manitoba and all the other western provinces. And while the other exemption rates aren`t that far off, remember that the differences are compounded by the fact that the lowest tax rate is higher in Manitoba than any other province in Canada( well, okay SK is 0.3% higher, but the huge difference in exemptions more than offsets that)

Do we get that much more than other provinces? I’m willing to bet any resident in Morris who is cut off from the rest of the province will say no.

B) Childrens arts credit? Okay, I’ll admit I do like when governments put more $$ in my pocket – but it really wouldn’t be a deciding factor to if I am going to put my kids in music lessons.

C) Cultural Industries printing tax credit? What the hell? Does the gov’t pick random industries out of the hat to give tax credits to? How about innovation, research and industries that could grow significantly as a result of these credits. This ranks right up there with the ‘ Hey, lets give the film industry tax credits and maybe I’ll get to meet a movie star!” level of crappy tax credits

D) How much is the provincial NDP party kicking in for preparation and printing of this document. I saw the phrase “Since 1999..” so many times, followed by a description of how great our government is that I could swear this is election literature. Aren’t political parties supposed to pay for that? The budget is (or should be) a government financial document, not partisan election literature.

E) And the one item I find really troubling is this: a 2.7% increase in public schools funding. Why do I find this troubling:

With the exception of two divisions, the remainder of the school divisions in the city have been without a teacher’s contract for in some cases over a year ( and this is common practice, and seems to be bad faith bargaining)

The increases of the two divisions that have recently negotiated a contract are in the 3% range. This is approximately the same  as what divisional support workers have received.

The Gov’t  has been offering the carrot for several years of TIGs if divisions freeze their property taxes.

Now, given that salaries are 80% of the divisional budget, and most divisions don’t have contracts in place, I’m not sure if 2.7% will be enough to cover new contracts ( and backpay for those that have been without).

It’s an election budget all right – appeals to a few critics right now, but when you look at it – absolutely empty.

The Courtesy Wave (or lack thereof)

I’m writing this post as I sit on a bus going to work. You see there was a stalled bus at my bus stop. Being the lazy bugger that I am I waited for a few buses to pass so that I could get on one where I had a chance of sitting as opposed to standing. That’s a good thing though – increased bus ridership. Guess $1.20 gas is good for something.

Anyway I digress.

50%
That’s the number of drivers that gave courtesy waves when drivers in the middle lane let them in to get around the stalled bus; and several drivers in the middle lake made a point of accelerating so they couldn’t get in.
Now I can understand the frustration when someone zips past signs indicating a closed lane for construction, only to cut people off when the lane actually ends. But this is a stalled bus at a bus stop. You have to be pretty close to see it is stalled and not just picking up passengers.

50%
So what has happened to courtesy while driving? Lack of courtesy waves, not signalling, stopping in no stopping zones, the list is endless.

Perhaps we need to make driver courtesy a mandatory pass/fail part of the driver exam?

This is “Today’s NDP?”

Seriously? This is what passes for Today’s NDP?

http://twitpic.com/4fsrd9/full

(Credit to chrisd.ca twitpic page)

I mean what the hell is that? Did they pick a 3rd grade student to do their press releases?

1st paragraph – talk about MPI rebates

2nd paragraph – talk about something completely different

3rd paragraph – talk about MPI rebates again.

(And Swan is wrong by the way. if we had private insurance we wouldn’t have been overcharged to this magnitude, if at all!)

But back to the letter – what does MPI have to do with Hydro rates and the Elderly? And how do the two fit into this? Seriously, you could put a paragraph about the state of housing for the Gypsy population in Romania instead of the second paragraph and it would have the same relevance – NONE!

So then I went to the websites to see if I could find the actual news release and got even more disgusted:

http://todaysndp.ca/news/press-releases

Look at how many press releases refer to “Hugh” or “McFayden”.

Whatever happened to:

“The Opposition Party”

“Opposition party leader McFayden”

“Leader of the Opposition, Hugh McFayden”

“Conservative party leader”

Look  at their main page (http://todaysndp.ca/) and you’ll see more references to Hugh.

Wondering if this was solely an NDP trick, I looked at the PC website: http://www.pcmanitoba.com/main.asp?cat_ID=36

A couple of references to:

“Selinger”

“Selinger’s NDP government”

It mostly referenced “NDP government”

Then the Liberal site (Which I was most impressed with):

http://mlp.manitobaliberals.ca/?m=201103

The reference “NDP” and each reference to a cabinet minister  uses their ministerial title e.g” Education Minister Nancy Allan”

 

So why is the NDP using the lowbrow approach? Is that the voter they’re trying to attract?

Maybe they should trying using some decorum, respect and integrity.

 

Oh right, it’s the NDP.