Monday, April 25, 2016
Guest Post: A Manitoban Reflects On His Province's Choice of Brian Pallister's Conservatives
I have a friend in Winnipeg with whom I regularly speak and correspond. Although he does not work in the field, he is possessed of a keen mind and a journalist's instincts and methodology that enable him to frequently uncover an array of misbehaviour on the part of public officials and organizations. I have urged him to devote himself to these pursuits when he retires, perhaps in a blog or some other forum.
He has given me permission to publish a missive he sent me about the recent Pallister victory in his province. For very good reasons he wishes anonymity, so he will remain unnamed, but here is, slightly edited, what he had to say:
Montreal Simon is a well-informed man and also knows the importance of history. If only people remembered things, especially political history.
The point that bothers me the most regarding the conservative victory here is that it is so large. I was hoping for a miracle such as a minority government but the unwashed have spoken. It will take more than one term to extinguish this government just because there are so many ridings held by it. Back in 1977 I remember when the Lyon government came to power. As a political rube at the time (I was a wet behind the ears high school student in grade 12) I had no idea how partisan politics could become. Manitoba was perhaps a more ‘balanced’ place at that time as Lyon only lasted one term before the electorate threw him out. Now no one seems to remember the legacy of the Filmon government.
In the late eighties came the Filmon government. Thanks to the spread of neo-liberal thought Gary was able to win three elections in a row. I remember his puckish grin during a news interview for the latest triumph. He called his third mandate a ‘threepeat’, echoing his competitive jock background (was a big basketball star at Sisler High). Nobody now remembers his lies (‘We have no plans to sell MTS”), bureaucratization of health care (creation of regional health authorities with resident bean counters who ‘manage’ care), big investments in casinos (great jobs, right) and cutting funding in education and healthcare (16-20 million for each department); also a bald attempt to privatize segments of provincial healthcare.
Meanwhile as cuts and austerity were implemented in the public sector no one paid much attention to the money showered on the private sector. Let’s see; 16 million gift to the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, increase in funding to private schools, subsidies for international companies: an American phone centre company called Fanueil and a Korean computer outfit call Wang. Both folded their tents within a couple years and quietly left the province with who knows how much government cash. I think the crowning financial toilet flush of public money occurred in the late nineties when the government was preparing to host the Pan American Games. The final price tag was never really pegged but of course to ask the total cost would cast a pall over the festivities enjoyed by Manitoba’s class conscious elite. They wanted this so bad that I remember one of the province’s leading plutocrats actually coming out into the public light of day and demanding that the Filmon government spend more money on the games (or else he would quit the organizing committee).
Ahh Lorne, memory is such a curse. Why do I torture myself? Guess I will be living through ‘interesting times’ as the Chinese say.
To cap it off the news brings word of more victory for the dark forces; Duffy acquitted, no one in the PMO even charged. The CBC continuing to ignore stories of importance and merit. Here is a link to the Huffington Post. It published an AP story on South Korea. Maybe CBC avoided publication because it might affect its bid for broadcast rights for the 2018 games?
P.S.: John Ralston Saul was right in that we are an ‘unconscious civilization.’