Uphill battle for Selinger’s NDP

Manitoba’s election is well underway, and the polls are not looking good at all for the NDP government, which has served for nearly 20 years under Gary Doer and Greg Selinger.

While the NDP can take a lot of credit for progress on infrastructure, at least one major project, the third bipole, was subject to overly protracted debate, and rerouted at considerable cost, as the government struggled to balance its constituencies of clean energy and respect for aboriginal land rights.

Infrastructure was the main excuse NDP leader Greg Selinger used to raise the PST 1%, returning the overall sales tax in Manitoba to 13%, without a vote, as was previously required by law.  Changing the law to remove the plebiscite at the same time as you raise those taxes, is, at best, bad public policy.  It has proven to be the central flamethrower Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives have used in the runup to the campaign, and even cracked the unity of the NDP themselves, with a backbench revolt lead by Theresa Oswald.

Selinger narrowly avoided defeat in a major shakeup that required a leadership race to settle, and even then, it left the party looking fractured, with a governing core plagued with patronage.  The lack of turnover also prevented the party from presenting a fresh face to the province going into the hustings.  The NDP still has some star candidates, like former CBC broadcaster Wab Kinew, that generate excitement in core constituencies.

There’s still the X-factor of the provincial Liberal Party.  It’s been little more than a bit player in Manitoba for decades, but the recent surprise victory of Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals has generated momentum to send the MLP above the NDP in some recent polls.  Rana Bokhari is a definite dark horse to be the next premier, but will certainly spoil what little the NDP planned to hold onto.

Chippewa concerned: Carberry casino could cut Canadian customers

SkyDancer Resort in Belcourt is officially working alongside new competition today, as Sand Hills Casino opened just 150 km away in Carberry. Western Manitobans no longer have to drive to Winnipeg to gamble without a border check, something sure to cut into SkyDancer’s budget.

Partially to offset the projected losses, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa recently expressed interest in building a new casino facility in the Grand Forks or the Bakken region, something that would require state legislation, in addition to local community support.

Seriously, take a Time Out

Robert Kelley had to call out UND sorority ΓΦΒ for being insensitive toward the Native American community, during the annual Time Out Week, where the University opens its doors to lectures and events from the region’s First Nations.  If it was the only sour note that would be dandy, but there are a lot of our Aboriginal neighbours in the city this week, and the chatter around town is becoming downright ugly.

It’s a familiar story for anyone whose skin is darker than milk.  You’re minding your own business at a bar in Grand Forks, when some drunk waltzes up and asks you, “WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE NICKNAME?”.  You could be Latina, East Indian, or even Black and get this routine, whose sole purpose seems to be to reassure the owner of hundreds of dollars of overpriced sports merchandise that they aren’t casually insensitive to larger social problems.

Along with the same-old, same-old, I have at least one report of a bar manager talking like he wants to throw out Native Americans wholesale.  As j5mc.org prides itself on its local drama coverage, we’ll try to get more on this story as it develops into an apology, firing, or defiant indifference.

In the meantime, mark your calendars:  The main event of Time Out week, the Wacipi, begins on Friday at 7pm, with a traditional meal on Saturday at 5pm.  Tickets are $12 for the general public, and UND students go FREE with ID.

Kelley’s statement after the bump.

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