By The Canadian Press - Monday, May 13, 2013 - 0 Comments
WINNIPEG – A man found not criminally responsible for the beheading of a fellow…
WINNIPEG – A man found not criminally responsible for the beheading of a fellow bus passenger in Manitoba may soon be allowed to go to the beach and to Winnipeg.
Vince Li (LEE’) has already been allowed short escorted trips from the mental hospital where he is staying into nearby Selkirk.
His treatment team is asking that Li be allowed to go further — into Lockport, nearby beaches and into Winnipeg.
Li would be escorted by a security guard and a hospital worker at all times, but the supervision would no longer be one-to-one — other patients would be on the trip.
Li’s psychiatrist Dr. Steven Kremer says Li has had no trouble with staff or other patients, has had no hallucinations in more than a year, and is a “low risk” to reoffend.
Li was an undiagnosed schizophrenic in 2008 when he stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Portage La Prairie.
By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 3:01 PM - 0 Comments
WINNIPEG – Winnipeg police faced a slithery situation Tuesday night when a citizen came…
WINNIPEG – Winnipeg police faced a slithery situation Tuesday night when a citizen came across a live python in a Dumpster behind an apartment complex.
It’s believed the person was putting their own garbage into the large bin when they heard a rustling sound, saw the snake and called police.
“A member of our canine unit did attend … and he was able to safely contain the snake in a (smaller) recycling bin,” Const. Jason Michalyshen said Wednesday.
“Not everybody feels comfortable with a situation like that, but certainly members of our canine (unit) go above and beyond what they do on a daily basis.”
The serpent turned out to be a ball python — smaller than most other types at just over a metre long and not poisonous. But officials were still relieved it didn’t slide out of the Dumpster. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Friday, April 5, 2013 at 4:23 PM - 0 Comments
WINNIPEG – A judge has dismissed a complaint against Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz over…
WINNIPEG – A judge has dismissed a complaint against Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz over a taxpayer-funded Christmas party at a restaurant he owned.
The party at the Asian restaurant in 2010 cost just over $3,000.
Joe Chan, the owner of another restaurant, had asked the court to declare that Katz violated a broadly worded section of a provincial conflict-of-interest law.
Chan’s lawyer argued that Katz was in conflict because he invited fellow councillors and staff to a restaurant from which he profited.
But Katz’s lawyer said the law is aimed at preventing municipal politicians from trying to influence votes that might benefit them.
Katz would have lost his job had Justice Brenda Keyser’s decision gone the other way.
Katz is not the first mayor to face legal trouble over a conflict-of-interest accusation.
Last October, an Ontario Superior Court justice ordered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford out of office for taking part in a council vote on whether he should repay $3,150 raised for his private football foundation. Ford appealed and the ruling was overturned.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberals are holding their leadership debate (or, rather, their first series of “Davos-style” conversations with the candidates) in Winnipeg this afternoon. Each of the contenders will sit down for an 11-minute conversation with Harvey Locke, the Liberal candidate in last year’s Calgary Centre by-election.
You can stream the proceedings here. We’ll start the live blog shortly (hit refresh for the latest update).
2:00pm. So, again, this is “Davos-style,” only without all the powerful and influential people that make Davos interesting. At least Winnipeg is a more interesting place than Switzerland.
2:03pm. First up is Karen McCrimmon. First question from Mr. Locke isn’t actually a question: “Please tell us a personal insight that you’d like Canadians to have about you.”
2:05pm. Second question: There is a perception that we’re an urban party beyond the Maritimes, should we do more to attract rural voters? Tough one. Ms. McCrimmon goes with “absolutely.”
2:10pm. There now seems to be some kind of disruption. Someone is banging on a drum and shouting.
2:11pm. Mr. Locke and Ms. McCrimmon are attempting to talk over the noise. Apparently the disruption, now concluded, was related to Idle No More.
2:14pm. Next up, Marc Garneau. He likes to do household chores, particularly vacuuming.
2:18pm. Adam Goldenberg argues this format is valuable because a party leader will do many one-on-one interviews. Perhaps. But these seem to be the easiest interviews a politician will ever do. If this is a test, it’s a pretty basic test.
2:24pm. If the challenge is basically surface-level: looking and sounding the part, Mr. Garneau did fairly well there. Looks and sounds like an experienced politician.
2:30pm. Joyce Murray might make a good environment minister in a Liberal government.
2:32pm. I hope one of the candidates answers one of Locke’s questions with “no comment.”
2:34pm. Ms. Murray busts Mr. Locke for being too long-winded in this questions. That will be the sharpest exchange of the afternoon. Suggested headline: “Murray lands knockout punch on Locke”
2:36pm. Justin Trudeau goes with the “no jacket/rolled up sleeves” look. Very Jack Layton. Asked for a personal anecdote, he says he misses his children. Boom. That is how you do politics. And then, somehow, he segues from that into a comment on the young people in Idle No More and an acknowledgement of the protester. Double Boom.
2:38pm. Mr. Trudeau launches into a defence of supply management, which serves as a swipe at Martha Hall Findlay.
2:41pm. Thinking back on Mr. Trudeau’s opening remarks, he probably missed an obvious opening to sing the first verse of the Greatest Love of All. Bit of a mistake. But he’ll learn not to let those opportunities go missed.
2:46pm. Mr. Trudeau explains that he has been to Sweden and that Canada needs its own Ikea (I’m paraphrasing). So there’s Scott Feschuk’s next column.
2:48pm. Deborah Coyne’s personal anecdote is that it’s Groundhog Day and she loves the movie, Groundhog Day, and that the movie is sort of an analogy for the Liberal party’s present challenge. Idea alert: What the Liberal party needs is Bill Murray.
2:59pm. David Bertschi comes out wearing a Liberal party scarf. In case there was some doubt about which party he supports.
3:04pm. The professionalization of politics is a touchy subject and it’s problematic to argue against political participation: But can we have a Davos-style conversation about who should be running for leader of a political party? If you’ve never held political office, how well can you hope to lead a party in a parliamentary system? Set aside the question of finding a seat to win so that you can sit in the House (Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton didn’t have seats when they became party leaders). What evidence is there that individuals who’ve never been elected can win a party leadership and then succeed in that role? Haven’t the most successful political leaders of the last 20 years been experienced, practiced politicians? What evidence is there that outsiders or unconventional politicians can succeed? What does this tell us about politics? Should we, perhaps, view politics as we do any other profession: something at which you must be experienced in to succeed?
3:14pm. Martin Cauchon warns that dumping supply management means eating unsafe food.
3:18pm. Here’s one request I’d make: If you enter a party leadership race as a relative long shot, bring some unique angle to the race. Call it the Ron Paul Rule (or the Rick Santorum Rule, or maybe the Nathan Cullen Rule). Joyce Murray is sort of doing this with electoral cooperation and Martha Hall Findlay is kind of doing this with supply management. But you should have either a particular ideology or a set of really bold policy proposals.
3:24pm. Martha Hall Findlay defends ending supply management. This is a fun debate. Ms. Hall Findlay is smart to make it about the cost of food for families.
3:32pm. Ms. Hall Findlay accuses Mr. Locke of asking too easy a question about crime policy.
3:33pm. Ms. Hall Findlay says the Liberals should have done a better job standing up to the government’s crime bills in the last two parliaments. The party needs more courage. Fair enough. Where was that courage at the time?
3:36pm. George Takach describes him as the “tech candidate.” I’m not sure that meets the Ron Paul Rule. Unless Mr. Takach’s answer to every dilemma is computers. (Although that would be interesting.)
3:39pm. Mr. Takach really wants to fight somebody.
3:44pm. Mr. Takach, answering a question about supply management, “And I will weave in my modest upbringing.” Very meta.
3:46pm. Closing statements. No lectern and all the candidates are on the stage at the same time. Ms. Murray pitches cooperation and picks up on Ms. Coyne’s Groundhog Day analogy. Mr. Trudeau pitches his democratic reforms. Mr. Garneau says the Liberal leader needs to be clear and specific about what he or she wants to do (subtext: Mr. Trudeau isn’t being clear enough about what he would do and where he stands). Ms. Hall Findlay says she’s pretty good with substantive policy and that this is about substance, experience and intelligence and tough decisions and courage and that there are no silver bullets (subtext: Mr. Trudeau is the silver bullet I’m contrasting myself with). Mr. Takach criticizes Mr. Locke for not asking enough questions about the economy.
4:01pm. And that’s that. This changes… probably not much. My general take on this race remains the same as it was two weeks ago.
By Ryan Mallough - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:50 AM - 0 Comments
Winnipeg citizens pay it forward at a Tim Hortons drive-through—228 times
On a brisk December morning, as customers at a Tim Hortons drive-through in southeast Winnipeg waited to pay for their orders, a strange thing happened: the driver in the car ahead of them picked up their tab. That simple act of generosity wasn’t unheard of in the Prairie city. Last fall, Maclean’s revealed that customers at various coffee shops across the city were being surprised by random acts of coffee charity—a story that quickly went viral and was picked up by news sites worldwide.
Only this time, the generosity became infectious. Car after car, customers kept pouring it forward, and what might normally involve one or two free beverages became a three-hour phenomenon. By the time it was over, 228 patrons had paid for a stranger’s double-double or Timbits.
The seemingly endless ﬂow of freebies initially caught restaurant staff off-guard. Then, as the chain grew longer, a drive-through manager kept shouting out random numbers as the tally reached into the dozens, then hundreds. “This sort of thing happens quite frequently where one of our guests will buy a coffee for another,” says Tim Hortons spokesperson Michelle Robichaud. “But we’ve never seen something of this magnitude.”
It’s still not entirely clear why this wave of generosity has caught on so strongly in Winnipeg, though, as Maclean’s did point out in our original story, the province enjoys the nickname “Friendly Manitoba.”
Of course, all good things must come to an end. Attempts were made by local reporters to figure out the identity of customer number 229—the individual who ﬁnally broke the chain. All that’s known is that he took off with four cups of coffee—paid for by the person in front of him—and left the person behind him to pick up his or her own three-coffee tab.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 10:41 AM - 0 Comments
Martin told the Free Press this morning he was angry because he found out last night he had not been invited to an announcement on refugee housing in his own riding on Tuesday. ”I got upset again,” he said. “I just get so fed up with these guys.” Martin said the former Liberal government always invited opposition MPs to government announcements as a courtesy. The Conservatives he said never do.
Martin has been in trouble on Twitter before for telling someone to “F*** off.” He is also facing a lawsuit from an Alberta robocall company who allege Martin slandered the company last winter. Martin told the Free Press he was not officially commenting on the Youth For Christ situation because he had to do more research to find out if what he was being told is really true. ”It was private tweeting to my followers,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:50 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Pat Martin took to Twitter last night to express his displeasure with a local infrastructure project and the Minister of Public Safety.
First Nations were concerned ‘Youth for Christ’ would try to steal their children’s souls. Now building is empty…Vic Toews big project.
All the $oney for inner city youth went to USA Youth for Christ. Big building, no benefit. Vic Toews Mr family values. What gives?
All the money for inner city youth went to ‘Youth For Christ’, who are Vic Toews’ donors and buddies, now the bldg is all but empty.
Listen, I would never judge someone who screwed their babysitter for years or knocked up their secretary, so don’t ask me to. Respect…
Not sure the public really knows their Minister of Public Safety who forgot to invite me to announcement in my risding AGAIN!!! RFW
Next time I’m bringing my own folding chair if the Minister ‘forgets’ to invite me to his spending announcements in my riding. Arrogance
When Vic gave the USA Youth for Christ ALL the money for inner city youth, FN’s said they don’t want people to ‘steal their chldn’s souls’
These are truly bad people.They won their razor thin majority by cheating; Robocalls and who knows what else. American style dirty tricks.
@CTVMercedes I’m not ‘worked up’ so much as ‘fed up’ with the rat faced whores in the CPC who neglect to invite me to ancemnts in my riding
Look…Given the parliamentary session we’ve just endured, the term ‘rat faced whores’ is using a great deal of restraint…
The issue of the Youth for Christ’s centre in Winnipeg goes back to February 2010, when Mr. Martin complained about the federally funded project. Mr. Toews responded to Mr. Martin. After city council approved the project, Mr. Martin pledged to support it. (More on the larger controversy here, here, here, here and here.)
The details of Mr. Toews’ personal life harken back to the Vikileaks controversy earlier this year.
Update 2:00pm. Vic Toews responds.
By Susan Peters - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Would-be Katniss Everdeens discover taste for the great outdoors
An appetizer-sized leopard frog leaps across the grass, only to be captured by a little girl. “No, no, it’s a frog, we’re not going to eat him,” says outdoor educator Barret Miller.
At a Hunger Games-inspired evening of archery and foraging at an outdoors education centre in Winnipeg, the participants are outdoorsy types who like hiking and camping.
Building on the popularity of the Suzanne Collins trilogy, the workshop has been marketed as a chance for would-be Katniss Everdeens to shoot arrows, then learn how to steep willow bark tea (which contains salicin, a natural pain reliever that would be useful if your small plane crashes, the pilot has a sprained ankle and the wolves are circling).
Workshop participants say they are discovering the real taste of Winnipeg as they savour grassland plants like wild mint, licorice, and chocolate-flavoured wild sunflowers. For 20-year-old Kirsten Brenner, this is a fun evening out. “I go hiking. I like spending time outside, and I wanted to know more about Canada’s outdoors.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 30, 2012 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Press finds that the Senate is not quite an exemplar of openness and transparency.
The reporter for weekly newspaper L’Etoile was told that he would have to physically come to Ottawa to look through the Senate attendance register, fat red binders with forms filed monthly by each senator … Another public registry, detailing the financial and business interests of senators, has only been available four hours per weekday at the Office of the Senate Ethics Officer in Ottawa. The Senate voted in May to make the registry public, but the office said the transition won’t be complete until 2013.
Unlike the House of Commons, Senate proceedings are still not televised, and there is no way to easily search Senate votes or daily debates using an online database.
Paul Adams suggests moving the Senate to Winnipeg.
By Tamsin McMahon - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM - 0 Comments
The city is hosting a retail boom led by big box stores
When major American retailers set their sights on Canada, Winnipeg isn’t typically the first place they look. But lately, the city has been in the midst of a retail-building and jobs frenzy driven mostly by international big box stores like Ikea, Wal-Mart and Target.
Last week, executives from Target flew to Winnipeg to scout out the location for four new stores in Manitoba as part of its Canadian launch next year. The company plans to hire 800 workers across Manitoba, and in Winnipeg, Target is in talks to become the flagship tenant in a retail complex planned on the site of the Canad Inns Stadium, home to the Blue Bombers. Meanwhile, Ikea announced it will hire 300 workers for a new store in a 1.5-million-sq.-foot retail development in Winnipeg. There’s talk that home hardware store Lowe’s is planning to open next to Ikea, and the development has also attracted Cabela’s, a major U.S. outdoor store that until recently had just three stores in Canada (one of them in Winnipeg).
Ikea’s announcement touched off a storm of retail development, says Chuck Davidson, vice-president with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. The company’s tendency to locate stores in major urban centres signalled to U.S. retailers that Winnipeg has grown enough to support more big box stores.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 5:36 AM - 0 Comments
If you’re a journalist, sometimes it’s more interesting to come to a story later rather than sooner. (It’s also way easier!) When I first heard that Winnipeg was ablaze with mob fury about a Rob Lowe tweet that described the city as a “hellhole”, I sort of chuckled to myself and thought “Welp, right or wrong, he is definitely talking about the ‘Winnipeg’ that’s in Manitoba.” It wasn’t until last night that I saw what good ol’ Dean Youngblood had actually written.
@RobLowe The local affiliate is interrupting the 4th quarter of the#NBAFinals to show city council election results!!!#TrappedInAHellHole
CP’s Steve Lambert did a good job of arbitrating the resulting furore. With no council elections happening in Winnipeg, the immediate problem seems to have been that the sports bar Lowe was visiting had tuned to a network feed from Grand Forks, N.D. TSN, which carried the game uninterrupted, would have been a better choice.
Lowe indicated later that he was referring to the bar, and not Winnipeg as a city, when he joked about being in a “hellhole”. And, in fact, if you look at what he wrote, he never did say that Winnipeg was a hellhole. (Parts of it are not remotely like hell at all during several months of the year!) But for some reason, an awful lot of Winnipeggers immediately assumed that that’s what he meant. Am I wrong, or does this say more about what they think of their city than it does about what Rob Lowe thinks of it?
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 9:11 PM - 0 Comments
Greg Fingas updates his rankings.
Mulcair still ranks well ahead of the pack, and indeed is largely rising above the most contentious exchanges as the candidates below jockey for position. But his new “strong, structured opposition” catchphrase rather cries out for explanation – and I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of NDP members have serious concerns about the prospect of top-down organization and message control if that’s what he has in mind.
Progressive Proselytizing awards the win to Brian Topp.
I believe that Brian Topp won this debate. I don’t say that lightly; in every other debate thus far I have ranked him several people down from the top. However, for the first time he came off a genuinely relaxed, jovial, and personal. He won most if not all of the minor exchanges with other candidates during Question & Answer period. He provided detailed policies, optimism for himself and the NDP, appropriate criticism of Harper and the other candidates without the pettiness we have seen before, and generally came off looking more like a Prime Minister than I have ever seen from him.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM - 0 Comments
4:30pm. And we’re done. Plenty there to dwell upon if the press gallery is so motivated. For instance: What precisely would Thomas Mulcair do differently? What specific policies or stances would he change or pursue? If Peggy Nash thinks the rich might pay more, why not say so now? If she’s worried about what the Conservatives will say, how will she ever address the issue? What are Brian Topp’s chances in Quebec? What does history and current polling tell us about his path to a seat? What does Paul Dewar mean by “issue-based campaigning? And how does he square that with his aversion to negative politics?
4:16pm. Closing arguments. In short. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 24, 2012 at 7:10 PM - 0 Comments
Various allegations of phone mischief were made during the last federal campaign and various ridings have been cited this week in connection to the fraudulent calls being investigated by Elections Canada. Because the allegations vary—rude calls, late night calls, calls about polling stations, etc—it’s probably worth clarifying how many ridings may have been impacted by calls meant to misdirect voters to fake or incorrect polling stations.
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher identified seven such ridings.
The robocalls received in Guelph were recorded in female voices in both French and English. They told voters their polling stations had moved to a shopping mall in the city’s downtown, where parking was scarce.
A Citizen-Postmedia investigation has found calls misdirecting voters were also reported in ridings across the country: Kitchener-Waterloo, Kitchener-Conestoga, London-West, Parkdale-High Park, Winnipeg South Centre and Sydney-Victoria. It is possible that they were caused by robo-dialing errors.
Beyond that, there is what was reported nine months ago. Continue…
By Kristy Hutter - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
How a graffitied message became a symbol of hope for a community
For more than a decade, anyone cresting the bridge into Winnipeg’s North End was met with a 50-ft. sign atop the roof of a local business that read, “Welcome to the North End,” after which someone had spray-painted the words, “People over profit.” The act of vandalism became an unofficial slogan for the area. So when the latter half was removed recently, it sparked a backlash.
Leslie Nepon, the owner of Nepon Autobody, says her ex-husband painted the original words on the inclined roof of their business in 1990 and vandals added “People over proﬁt” underneath it several years later. Nepon believes the addition was painted maliciously because it was used in a video that purposely mocked the crime-ridden neighbourhood. But she began getting positive feedback from customers, and eventually a community that has often experienced economic strain and gang violence adopted it as a symbol of hope. “We have a history of investment leaving our community, so we needed momentum and collaboration,” says Rob Neufeld, director of the North End Community Renewal Corporation. “The sign actually means we want to be a welcoming place for people and for profits.”
After the building was renovated in November, however, Nepon hired a local graffiti artist to put “Welcome to the North End” back up, but the rest didn’t make the cut. Soon after, complaints came in. Cracking under pressure, Nepon has hired the artist to restore the motto come spring, with a slight adjustment: “Nepon Autobody puts people over profit.” “It’s their building, they can do what they want,” says Neufeld. “Whether it was originally put there in slang or not, I always felt good coming over that bridge.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 5:55 AM - 0 Comments
In 2010 Winnipeggers endured 2,000 robberies
In 2010 Winnipeggers endured 2,000 robberies. Consider the holdups of just one night in February. Two men skulked into a business on Notre Dame Avenue and confronted the 22-year-old girl working behind the counter. They grabbed a fistful of cash and ran. An hour later, two others burst into a Westminster Avenue store wielding a gun and stole money. Just after midnight, another business was robbed at gunpoint. Then at 1:10 a.m., several men attempted to rob a Manitoba Avenue home.
Worst cities (% higher than national average)
1. Winnipeg (228%)
2. Saskatoon (164%)
3. Montreal (153%)
4. Regina (141%)
5. Victoria (137%)
Best cities (% lower than national average)
1. Rimouski, Que. (100%)
2. Stormont/Dundas/Glengarry, Ont (97%)
3. Lac-Saint-Jean-Est, Que. (96%)
4. Arthabaska Region, Que. (90%)
5. St. Clair, Ont. (89%)
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 5:52 PM - 21 Comments
The Scene. Shortly before the start of Question Period this afternoon, Conservative backbencher Patrick Brown rose to repeat his side’s line that the NDP is too “disunited” to govern. A moment later, Conservative backbencher Greg Rickford rose to lament that the NDP, in punishing two MPs who defied the party’s decision to whip a vote on the gun registry, was also too committed to enforcing unity.
Presumably this was Mr. Rickford’s way of protesting his own government’s decision to whip this week’s vote on asbestos exports. Hopefully his caucus leadership won’t too severely punish him for so bravely asserting the independence of individual MPs.
Immediately thereafter, the Speaker then called for oral questions and the official opposition sent up Joe Comartin, Mr. Comartin having apparently discovered an example of irony that he was eager to share with everyone. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 5 Comments
Air Canada stops sending its pilots into downtown Winnipeg “due to safety concerns”
You’ve heard of people moving out of downtown areas and into suburban neighbourhoods. Now the airline personnel are doing it themselves—in Winnipeg, at least. Air Canada has announced that “due to safety concerns,” it will stop using the Radisson Hotel in the city’s downtown core to house its pilots and crew. Instead, during layovers, Air Canada employees will be bussed to an airport hotel. A spokesman for the airline told the Winnipeg Free Press this came in reaction to an assessment by “local law enforcement officials, and our own security people,” and didn’t say when—if ever—it will be safe for flight attendants to venture back downtown.
’Peggers bristled at the suggestion their downtown is dangerous. Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz fumed that Air Canada should “say exactly what it is they’re saying” about the perceived threats, implying that safety issues might be an excuse for cutting costs: “There’s more to this than meets the eye,” he said. “The reasons don’t appear to be valid.” The decision comes as a blow at a time when, finally, Winnipeg’s reputation seemed on the mend. This summer, the NHL returned to Winnipeg, but now that the Jets are back, the jet pilots are fleeing.
The airline hasn’t yet given a full public justification for the decision, but an internal memo fingered the “1,000 displaced people from rural Manitoba” who were forced to flee their homes during summer flooding. Air Canada has since apologized for what the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs called a racist claim that Aboriginal flood victims were making the city dangerous. Airlines expect their pilots to be brave enough to withstand bad weather and the threat of terrorist attacks but, it seems, they must be protected at all costs from homeless people.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 3 Comments
Once an equipment manager, Craig Heisinger is now the ‘conscience’ of the reborn jets.
Fifteen years ago, he was the one who turned out the lights. That April night, after the Winnipeg Jets had been knocked out of the 1996 playoffs, losing 4-1 at home to Detroit and bidding adieu to the NHL, it was Craig Heisinger who stood by himself in the dressing room, long after the last fan and player had disappeared. As the team’s equipment manager, it was his job to wash the jerseys, air out the gear, vacuum the rug, and lock the door behind him. By then, he had decided he wasn’t going to follow the franchise to Phoenix. Uprooting his wife and four young kids—three then still in diapers—from their hometown and extended family simply didn’t feel right. So “Zinger” did the only thing he could: he shed a few tears and moved on.
Last June, he was crying again, but this time he wasn’t alone. At the podium, in front of the media and hockey fans across the nation, the now 48-year-old was named senior vice-president and director of hockey operations/assistant general manager of the reborn Winnipeg Jets, a title so unwieldy that he jokes about getting a fold-out business card. Barely able to choke out the words, he thanked Mark Chipman, the team’s co-owner, for “taking a chance” on him. He thanked local fans for letting so many players, coaches and managers—himself included—“cut their teeth” with the AHL Manitoba Moose during the city’s decade-and-a-half in hockey purgatory. And he finally let himself believe that what seemed impossible was now true. Even as an insider in True North, the group that brought the NHL back to the Prairies, Heisinger played the doubting Thomas, steeling himself against another disappointment. “I never really bought in. I knew all the work going on behind the scenes, but I never thought it would come to fruition,” he says, as he sits in his office hours before the transplanted franchise’s first exhibition game. “I couldn’t convince myself that they wanted another team in Canada. I just couldn’t see it.”
Yet as of last May 31, it is real. What once was lost has been found; giving back to a city—and a country—something more profound than a place name in the standings. Proof that bigger isn’t necessarily better. That passion can count for more than dollars. That the game we claim still belongs to us.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 0 Comments
The U.S. government recognizes Libya’s transitional council, while the Taliban ramps up its campaign of violence in Afghanistan
A federal court judge this week granted the Canada Revenue Agency permission to launch a corruption probe in Quebec. It will examine the books of 176 municipalities, looking for irregularities in the $8 billion in contracts awarded each year to the construction industry. The Quebec government has resisted calls for an inquiry into alleged ties between the industry and organized crime. Perhaps tax officials can get to the bottom of what most Quebecers have long said is a deep-rooted problem.
Time for an explanation
A woman who was viciously assaulted by Russell Williams is suing the ex-colonel—and the Ontario Provincial Police—for damages. Laurie Massicotte was tied up, stripped naked and photographed for hours inside her home, less than two weeks after another neighbour endured a similar attack. At the time, authorities had no idea Williams was the culprit, but police have never explained why they chose not to warn the public after the first assault. Massicotte deserves an answer, and her lawsuit should force the OPP to provide one.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 5 Comments
What he thinks of future franchise relocation, the Aaron Rome hit and the culture of the game
A franchise move, a new discipline czar, a controversial hit, and a see-saw Stanley Cup final; it’s been a busy couple of weeks for the National Hockey League’s commissioner. Prior to Game 5, he sat down to reflect on a season of wins and losses.
Q: Not presuming any outcomes, but what would a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup after such an extended period of time mean for the game of hockey?
A: I think it would be tremendously exciting for fans of the Canucks. But in the final analysis, who wins the Cup isn’t as important as how good the final was—how exciting, how dramatic, how entertaining, how skilful. If you’re a fan of the Canucks—or Bruins—you’ll be excited beyond belief if they win. If you cheer for somebody else, you’ll be more interested in how good the hockey is.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 12:40 PM - 1 Comment
A wrongfully convicted woman regains her freedom, while a Boston player gets knocked out of the playoffs by a vicious hit
Boots on the ground
Canada’s combat tour in Afghanistan is entering its final few weeks, but the military is already preparing for its next deployment—wherever it may be. Months after being forced out of their secret staging base in Dubai because of a diplomatic spat, the Canadian Forces have reportedly reached deals to open new bases in Germany and Jamaica, and are in talks with Senegal, South Korea, Kenya and Singapore. As Defence Minister Peter MacKay said, Canada has become a “go-to nation” when it comes to responding to natural disasters and other NATO missions—requiring a much bigger bootprint on foreign soil.
A revamped battle plan
Forty years after Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” a new report has confirmed what police, prosecutors—and traffickers—have long known: we’re losing. Released by a consortium of world leaders, including Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, the report says it’s time to start treating drug abuse as a public health problem, not a criminal one, and consider legalizing certain substances to undercut criminal gangs. The war on drugs has cost billions of dollars and countless lives. But, to borrow a phrase, admitting the old strategy is broken is the first step to recovery.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, June 6, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 12 Comments
It took a new arena, US$170 million, and Mark Chipman’s persistence
There’s something about the intersection of Portage and Main that only Winnipeggers get. Two busy roads ringed by tall commercial buildings that offer no shops or attractions that might make a visitor stop and linger. But somewhere deep in the city’s DNA, it is imprinted as a gathering place on momentous occasions. Most especially in relation to hockey. It’s where Bobby Hull signed his million-dollar deal with the World Hockey Association’s Winnipeg Jets. Where fans feted the selection of the great Dale Hawerchuk as the first overall pick in the 1981 NHL draft. And where the desperate vigils were held as the franchise started to slip away in the spring of 1995.
And so it was on the morning of May 31, 2011, when big league hockey finally made its long-awaited return to Canada’s heartland. There were kids playing road hockey on a strip of sidewalk complete with goalies and nets. Jersey-clad men, waving Jets flags and hoisting a replica Stanley Cup. Even a couple of guys who had brought along red chairs from the old Winnipeg Arena. But the crowd of around 1,000 mostly stood and watched a press conference being beamed onto outdoor TV screens from the basement of the MTS Centre down the block. Waiting for the words that would set their fandom free.
The preamble took a few minutes, but finally Mark Chipman, the chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment, made it official. “I am excited beyond words to announce our purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers,” he said. “We received the call we’ve long been waiting for.” It’s not a done deal—the purchase still needs the approval of the NHL’s board of governors and is contingent on the organization selling at least 13,000 season tickets over the next three weeks—but close enough to touch off celebrations around the province and across the country. A couple of weeks of frenzied deal-making that continued right through the final night, and then Winnipeg’s civic pride restored at a reported purchase price of US$170 million—US$110 million for the fractious owners of the Thrashers, and a US$60-million “relocation fee” for the league.
By Stephanie Findlay - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 7:15 AM - 0 Comments
The province has called in the troops to battle the Assiniboine River
Hours after the Manitoba government declared a provincial state of emergency this week to deal with “unprecedented and historic” flooding of the Assiniboine River, Steve Ashton, the minister of emergency measures, announced the government’s decision to break Assiniboine dikes and release “controlled” water—an unusual plan that speaks to an increasingly unmanageable situation. The release of 2,000 to 6,000 cubic feet per second of water will affect 150 rural properties. Ashton said it wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a necessary one: an uncontrolled release would put 850 homes at risk.
Since early April, the floods—underestimated by faulty river gauges, and caused by a series of wetter-than-average springs—have displaced about 2,000 people. And the government has estimated that the final bill for damages could be $100 million. (The 2009 flood cost Manitoba $70 million.)
The same day a state of emergency was declared, some 800 members of the Canadian Forces arrived. Their job? Help top up existing dikes, fortify previously unprotected properties, and deploy mobile flood protection equipment to high-risk areas. Brandon, Manitoba’s second-largest city, is one of the high priorities. On May 7, the water level in Brandon measured 1,181 feet, the highest it’s been since 1923. An evacuation order was issued this week for those in about 900 homes and businesses in “the Flats, an area south of the river in Brandon. (Winnipeg, with three major water diversions, remains relatively safe.) “It’s a murky, muddy mess,” says Matt Goerzen, an editor for the Brandon Sun.
Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says First Nations communities are disproportionately hurt by the floods since their poor diking systems are “nowhere near” able to displace the water. He says “major policy issues” must be addressed. But for now, it’s a race against time as the flood-fighters try to mitigate the effects of a rising Assiniboine.