Sunday, April 29, 2007

Manitoba Hydro and McFadyen's Tories

In the last week, we've heard a lot of debate about whether Hugh would privatize Manitoba Hydro once elected Premier.

The NDP was the first to raise the issue by warning voters that, regardless of what the Tories promise, they will privatize Hydro. The Tories countered by saying simply that they'd never, ever do such a thing. The Filmon Tories said exactly the same thing in the 1995 election about MTS, promptly before selling that, the NDP point out. It sure doesn't help the Tories' case that Hugh was one of the architects of the Filmon government's privatization of MTS and an alleged advisor to the Ontario government on their experiment with privatizing Hydro.

In a bid to reassure us all, the Tories actually held a big press conference, handed out bottles of water, and spent what amounts to one campaign day to announce they'd pass a "Legacy Act" that would essentially prevent Hydro from ever being sold. It's a risky move, but it's one that will probably pay off, I think.

In an otherwise funny take on the issue,
Curtis Brown describes it as being "as defensive a posture as you'll ever see in a political campaign," which is never the place a campaign wants to be. Of course, bending over backwards to address the issue loudly and clearly while the campaign is still in its early days almost certainly blunts the "they'll sell Hydro" attacks in the coming weeks.

So will the Tories sell Manitoba Hydro?

It seems to me the debate thus far has missed the boat a little. Reviewing track records, resumes and personal blog posts are all fine, but when I reflect on whether a party will keep a particular promise if elected, I turn to what I know about their ideals and what the party stalwarts believe and preach daily. Tories of the modern variety believe in privatization. It's a fundamental tenet for them that the market is the best allocator of labour, investment capital, wheat and other commodities and -- yes -- hydro-electric power.

Elect the Tories and they may not sell Hydro in their first term, and maybe not even in their second term, but given enough political capital, they will sell it. You can bet the bank (or public utility) on that.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Here we have it: feisty Winnipegger starts new blog.

Nice starting, I thought, and more creative than just pasting in "Abandon every hope, all ye who enter here." Besides, if you read something here, I hope it'll provoke a reaction other than hopelessness: engagement, enthusiasm, tears, laughter, anger, 180-degree political realignment, etc.

That reminds me: you can expect to read plenty about politics. Being in the midst of a provincial election, there's hardly a better time to join in the punditry. I tend to be a stellar seat-by-seat predictor of elections (with some humbling exceptions). However, unlike a number of other Manitoba bloggers, I'm not a professional
policy hack/wonk, spinster, or Blackberry addict. I do work in the private sector, though you'll soon see that hardly makes my political views predictable.

I really don't intend to be single-mindedly political: no, I hope to keep the politics down to a dull 90% or so of all blogging. Maybe we'll tone it down once the election is over - make that once both elections are over. Then maybe we can talk art, Winnipeg's best breakfast spots, and other fine yet less horse race-like topics.

Why "Prairie Topiary"? Topiary is one of those rich words I've always loved. Another is sluice. Everyone's heard that pictures are worth a thousand words; for me, the best words are those that are worth a thousand pictures. "Topiary" tends to invoke a garden scene made up of an alluring cast of intriguing characters, usually animals. Add the topiary and its cast of characters to a prairie setting and you net an image that seems somehow perfectly appropriate for Manitoba.

This is all for me today.