Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hydro, how not to spin

For the third straight year, Manitoba Hydro is set to post another huge profit. Good for them. They recently released third quarter results showing a profit of $217 million and the headline writers at CBC find a way to put a negative spin on the story. Maybe they got confused and were looking at their own bottom line but I’m not sure how posting a multi-million dollar profit especially in these economic times warrants a negative headline. Now the CBC is not the only one to blame here. They were just following the lead of hydro who put out this release. And what a dumb release it was. In his wisdom, Glen Schneider decides to state in the first paragraph of what should be a completely positive release that his company’s profit was fractionally smaller than last year’s and then goes on to explain the reasons. Why is that in there at all? And nowhere does he mention that they are projecting a much higher than anticipated year-end profit. I had to find that out from the Sun, who were the able to put the full story together. Now Glen, share the bad news when you actually have some bad news. When you post a nice tidy profit don’t shoot yourself in the foot by talking about inconsequential minutia that distract media from the positive story.


Congrats to Tom Brodbeck and DailyRants which had their blogs mentioned in the provincial government’s weekly issue of BLOGWATCH (and not MB gov). Not bad considering they write for a Manitoba audience (and Blogwatch is not based in Manitoba).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

They are watching you

Our friend at endless spin recently pondered whether bloggers actually had much of an affect on the political discourse.

Well a certain government (not likely the one you are thinking of) has started officially monitoring blogs. We all know that government staffers have been looking at our scribbles now and then, usually just for a good laugh, a bit of gossip or to gage the importance of an issue. But now this is different. They have government staff monitor the blogs, analyse the top issues and create a weekly BLOGWATCH which is sent around to all communication and political staff. Just thought you should know.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's the economy, stupid

The province is hinting that the 2009-2010 provincial budget will be balanced. This would be the 10th consecutive balanced budget by the NDP government (note that the books aren't closed yet on number 9).

This is quite an accomplishment especially if you consider that during those 10 years we’ve seen floods, a federal accounting error, 9/11, BSE, drought, forest fires and now one of the biggest economic downturns in history.

Through it all the NDP has been able to balance the books and put money away in the rainy day fund for times just like these. The Tories and sky-is-falling naysayers (I’m looking at you non-economist John McCallum) will continue to repeat their negative mantra but they will be proven wrong once again as they have been for the last 10 years.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Walking and chewing gum

So Hughie has decided that he wants the legislature to be recalled early. He must be feeling bad for having taken over a month off and is now trying to make up for it.

Clamouring for the legislature to go back early is of course the oldest opposition tactic in the book. It’s like clockwork; every year a few weeks before the legislature is expected to sit, the opposition will take whatever issue du jour is making headlines (think bse, crocus, the economy, flooding) and demand that the legislature reconvene. It’s getting a bit old and I wonder why the press keeps falling for this yearly ritual.

I find it disingenuous for Hughie to insinuate that work doesn’t get done and that the government can’t be held accountable without the house sitting. Anyone who has spent any time around the legislature, parliament or city hall knows that just as much work (if not more) gets done by the government when the house is not sitting (except maybe in the dog days of summer).

And the crack about chewing gum and walking. Come on Hughie, you can do better than that! Doer can chew gum, walk, juggle blindfolded, play hockey, drink a beer and run a province all at the same time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Kid on the Blog

Auditioning for the Legislature reporter gig maybe?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Getting lucky in Manitoba II

Here's an update on this story.

UPDATE to the UPDATE: Good call by Minister Swan to look into this again. I'm not sure why the Free Press missed that part of the story.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wanted, one reporter at 450 Broadway

Looks like this might be one of her last reports from the legislature as the tall foreheads at Mountain Avenue have decided to pull her from the legislative beat. Not sure if it was because of her awkward and sometime antagonistic relationship with the Premier or her activities during the strike that pissed off management but Bruce Owen will be getting a new roommate. Too bad, I thought she was pretty good but she has been burning some bridges. Over the last few years, there have been many reporters that have come and gone from the leg including: Mia Rabson (Ottawa), Martin Cash (business), Dan Lett (columnist), Leah Janzen (U of M) and Paul Egan (Detroit).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Getting lucky in Manitoba

Imagine you’ve just one $1 million and you never see a penny of it. This is exactly was continues to happen....well in Ontario anyway. The issue of lotto dealers “getting lucky” at an exceptionally high rate does not seem to be going away. According to the Ontario Ombudsman "despite all the measures, despite the publicity, despite the denunciations, insider fraud still happens". It’s so bad that the Ontario Lotteries Corporation is even considering banning retailers, OLG employees and family members from buying lottery products. A similar issue was also reported in B.C.

UPDATE: The OLG has banned their employees from buying lotto tickets. Too bad it's the retailers that are the problem.

And what about Manitoba?

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation asked Ernst & Young to do an audit in 2007 and they found absolutely nothing. “The report was thorough and found that the Corporations consumer protection measures were strong, that there was no evidence of wrongdoing in retailer-win files (…)” (WCLC 2008 annual report).

Why are there so many crooked retailers only one province away while everything is hunky-dory in Manitoba? Are retailers in Manitoba more honest than in Ontario? Are there better procedures in Manitoba? Nope, they pretty much follow the same rules. Is this likely also happening in Manitoba? I would put money on it.

I think WCLC might want to take another look at this issue…

Monday, February 2, 2009

The snow ramp of near-tragedy

Slightly less than a year ago today, Lisa Klassen’s car teetered on the guard rail of a north perimeter highway bridge and fell upside down onto the frozen Red River. After being submerged under the water, she is rescued by good Samaritans. Now it’s a miracle that Lisa survived the crash and everyone is obviously relieved that she has recovered from her injuries. But there are still a few unanswered questions…

After the crash, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation acted quickly in removing all the snow build-up on bridges. One year later, is this still a priority? How is the snow currently on our bridges? What happened to the Minister’s pledge to review the Ministry's snow-clearing policies? Has this been done? What are the results?

Has the RCMP released their report on the crash? Was speeding a factor?

BTW, for those of you who are wondering the Hugh McFadyen watch of 2009 is up to 33 days (in the freep).

UPDATE: Is Hugh as smart as a seventh grader?

There has been a Hugh spotting in the Free Press. I’m not sure if this warrants taking him off the “Hugh Watch of 2009” since he wasn’t actually quoted but his name has appeared in the paper which is a start.