Local News Briefs

A criminal day off

It may not be a holiday for most of us, but Winnipeg’s car thieves took a day off early this month.

Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) reported that the first Tuesday of this month, Mar. 3, was the first zero-theft day in decades.

MPI president, Marilyn McLaren, told CBC this shows Winnipeg is growing out of its reputation as an auto theft capital.

Car theft has dropped 62 per cent in Manitoba in the last two years. Over that time, the province initiated several anti-theft programs, such as the immobilizer subsidy.

Province in the clear

Manitoba’s third quarter financial update came bearing good news: The province is beating back the recession with a $316 million surplus, $220 million more than expected.

The surplus will speed up a $40 million payment for infrastructure to the City of Winnipeg. The money is earmarked for road repair and rapid transit funding.

A government press release quoted Finance Minister Gary Selinger as saying the surplus, as well as a continued focus on stability, will ensure the government’s good luck remains.

Better medicare, the grit way

Jon Gerrard, the leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba, has a new vision for provincial health spending.

Gerrard told CBC he sees the current system as top-heavy and allowing regional authorities too much discretionary control of the budget.

He also accused Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) administration of guzzling up a substantial portion of all funds before they reach patients.

Gerrard envisions a system akin to what cataract surgery currently uses, wherein a flat rate is paid for the procedure regardless of where it is done.

Gerrard hopes changes to WRHA regulations will ensure public funds are actually going to the delivery of services, thus improving the system’s overall accountability.

Biodiesel? Not for Manitoba

Manitoba has licensed its first bio-diesel plant, but our neighbours south of the border will reap all the benefits.

The Greenway Bio-diesel plant in St. Boniface will export all of its output to Minnesota, where consumers receive a $1-per-gallon subsidy for blending biofuel and petroleum.

Royce Rostecki, Greenway’s owner, called this an “insurmountable disadvantage” in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press.

Manitoba’s Biofuels Act mandates a five per cent blend of biofuels in petroleum diesel to create local demand. The establishment of a local bio-diesel producer was a legislative prerequisite for this mandate.

Calling all Liberals

Leader of the Opposition Michael Ignatieff visited Winnipeg on Mar. 20, his first official visit since taking over the federal liberal party.

At a speech to local business leaders, Ignatieff called for increased federal education, training and infrastructure funding for the provinces.

He also called for investment in an east-west Canadian power grid, a potential boom for the energy-rich Western provinces.

The Winnipeg speech is a part of a Liberal Party of Canada’s attempt to awaken party support in the Western provinces through a series of speeches, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

The following evening Ignatieff spoke at the annual general meeting of the provincial liberals.

Published in Volume 63, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 26, 2009)

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