First Past the Post versus Proportional Representation in the 2019 Manitoba Election

Following the 2019 Federal election there is a lot of discussion on social media about ‘first past the post’ (FPP) versus ‘proportional representation” (PR) and whether our electoral system in Canada is a fair one.

A previous post outlined how the two approaches would have impacted the recent Federal election.

A look at the recent election in Manitoba show that the outcome here would also have been quite dramatically different under a PR versus FPP system as well.

2019 Manitoba Election

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
Conservative 47.02 38 27
NDP 31.38 18 18
Liberal 14.48 4 8
Green 6.43 0 4
Other 1 0 0


The Conservative seat count would have been reduced to 26 from 38.  The NDP would have held their own, and the Liberals and the Green Party would have seen their seat count increased form 4 to 8 and 0 to 4 respectively.  In other words, Manitoba would have a minority Conservative government that could be brought down at any time if the other three parties had the will. Under such a scenario you might even see a NDP, Liberal, Green coalition or an NDP minority government propped up by the Liberal and the Green Party.


The results in the 2017 BC election would have looked like this:

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
Liberal 40.36 42 35
NDP 40.28 41 35
Green 16.84 3 15
Other 2.52 1 2

BC currently has a minority government and that would not have changed under a PR system but the Green Party would have gained 12 seats.


In the recent Alberta election won by the United Conservatives they would have won a majority under either system but both the NDP and the Alberta Party would have seen an increase from 24 to 28 and from 0 to 8 seats respectively.

Party % of popular vote First past the post Proportional representation
United Conservative 54.88 63 48
NDP 32.67 24 28
Alberta Party 9.08 0 8
Other (total of 11) 3.37 0 3


The bottom line is this:  if Canada were to changed to a PR from a FPP electoral system the larger established political parties stand to lose seats while the smaller parties who currently have no standing in terms of seats would see an increase.

The result might well be a increase in the number of minority governments at the provincial level.

The Great Canadian Carbon Tax


Is it a carbon tax or perhaps the Great Canadian Carbon Scam?


Governments of all stripes have repeatedly demonstrated  throughout history that they are not stellar stewards of our money.


Every dollar that flows to government in the form of taxation (any form of taxation)  is potentially a dollar wasted.  Every dollar we keep out of the hands of government is potentially a dollar saved.


Enter the Trudeau Liberal carbon tax.  The Trudeau Liberals started out touting the carbon tax as being revenue neutral.  The carbon tax would be flowing back to the people who paid it.

The current iteration of the plan calls for 90% of the tax going back to the people who paid it.  And of that 90% only 70 % of taxpayers will get back at least what the tax cost them, which means the other 30 % will in fact  be  ‘taxed” by this so-called revenue neutral taxing scheme.


The question that arises is, apart from the inequity of the carbon tax  how is taxing Peter and then paying Paul (who is actually Peter)  90% of what you took from him going to contribute to a reduction of emissions?


That is a question that has not been adequately answered. The second question is who gets the remaining 10% and how ill that contribute to cutting emissions?  At present it is designated to go the schools and hospital and other such entities that are not able to pass the tax on to consumers.


Lastly there is another question that has not even been asked.  What will be the cost of creating the and running the bureaucracy that will administer this new tax?

Will there be a tax or surcharge to pay for the cost of collecting and redistributing the tax back to some but not all Canadian?  Or is that what the money that the 30% who will not be getting back what the tax cost them will be used for.

Lastly, is this perhaps just another pre-election bauble or ‘shiny thing’  the Liberals are throwing out there to distract voters from the other issues facing this country in the hope that the electorate is gullible enough to fall for it?



Who Hires the Next Chief of Police

About 10 years ago police and union officials were summoned to a meeting with representatives of the Manitoba Department of Justice.  The purpose of the meeting was to announce that the province had engaged the services of a consultant for the purpose of drafting a new police act and to invite police input.

In 2007 after years of inaction by the provincial government Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz announced that the City of Winnipeg would establish a Police Commission.

Once it was explained to Katz that a police Commission would usurp his power to personally run the police department (through the office of CAO) the mayor quickly changed his mind and announced the city would be forming a Police Advisory Board.  A board with no authority, just another group that could offer advice to the mayor and council.

In 2007 a by-law was enacted creating the Winnipeg Police Advisory Board.

Also in 2009 the new Manitoba Police Services Act was passed. Only Part 2 of the Act, which creates the Manitoba Police Commission, has been proclaimed.  Part of the mandate of the Manitoba Police Commission is to develop training materials for municipal police boards as well as to conduct the training.  Portions of the Act that have not as yet been proclaimed require that each municipality that has a police department also have a police board.

Also in 2009, once the provincial legislation was passed the Winnipeg Police Advisory Boards was disbanded.

Once the Police Services Act is proclaimed in its entirety, the mandate of the municipal police boards will include:

1) After consulting with the police chief, establish priorities and objectives for the police service;

(a) establish policies for the effective management of the police service;

(b) direct the police chief and monitor his or her performance;

(c) ensure that the police chief establishes programs and strategies to implement the priorities and objectives established by the board for the police service;

(d) ensure that community needs and values are reflected in the policing priorities, objectives, programs and strategies;

(e) ensure that police services are delivered in a manner consistent with community needs, values and expectations; and

(f) act as a liaison between the community and the police service.

Lastly, once the municipal police boards are constituted it will be the police board that appoints “a person with prescribed qualifications to serve as the chief of the municipal police service.”

Since 2009 the province has done little other than name the Provincial Police Commission.  The Municipal Police Boards are still off in the distance.

All of that to say this:  Because the province has been dragging its feet for a decade, Winnipeg’s next chief of police will not be hired by a police board as is the practice right across Canada.  Instead, the next chief will be hired by Phil (three monkeys) Sheegl.

His Lips Were Moving

Recently, in an attempt to not raise property taxes the Sam asked all city departments to look at their budgets and come up with cuts.

According to news reports the Winnipeg Police Service was asked to come up with somewhere between $3 Million and $5 million.

There were, no doubt, provisos attached to the budget cutting instructions: you can’t cut the number of police officers;  you cannot cut the number of staff (which is already far below the acceptable ratio); you cannot cut the number of cadets; and above all you cannot ground the helicopter.

Once you look at the list of things that would not be politically palatable there are not many areas left (other than perhaps overtime) that could be cut that would yield savings in the $3-$5 million range.

The other option of course is to increase revenue.  Police departments don’t have many options in terms of sources that can dramatically increase revenues except fines.  Traffic fines to be precise.

According to a CTV report,  when Mayor Sam Katz was asked about a recent Winnipeg Police internal memo concerning the need to increase traffic enforcement the mayor indicated that the city is not behind the move by the Police Service to increase the number of offence notices issued (and the resulting increase in the revenue accrued to the City).

Apparently the mayor actually said, “To be frank with you, I’m not aware of that at all”.

Although I was not there and did not see or hear him say those words I’m willing to believe he said them and probably even with a straight face, but,  his lips were moving….. 

If a police department is given instructions to cut the budget but cannot touch the areas most likely to yield savings then the revenue side is the only option and traffic tickets are the prime revenue source.

“..not aware of that at all”,  Mr. Mayor?  What did you think would happen – the police would call on the friendly neighbourhood tooth fairy to deliver the goods?

Will the Winnipeg Police Association’s Endorsement of The Mayor Become a Cost to Taxpayers?

Perhaps a better question would be, how much will it cost us and are we about to be “SAMMED” AGAIN?

During the 2010 civic election the Winnipeg Police Association endorsed Mayor Sam Katz.  The announcement that the WPA was endorsing the Mayor coincidentally came on the same day that the Mayor announced he was adding 58 additional police and 19 staff positions  to the Police Service complement.  The  timing was  no doubt a coincidence (not) but it’s  one of those coincidences that voters have come to expect when an incumbent is running for reelection.  

Whenever unions support politicians there is some expectation that there will be a return on their investment.   Sometimes it is  favourable legislation, sometimes it is the creation of more positions which result in a direct benefit, in this case an increase in union dues (77 positions translates into approximately $40,000.00 in union dues – not exactly chump change).   In Canada one does not necessarily think about politicians meeting in hotel rooms and receiving brown paper envelopes stuffed with cash (e.g.  Karlheinz Schreiber and  Brian Mulroney) as a common occurrence.  Usually, at least in the cases that come to public attention it is less brazen.  The fact remains that when politicians make deals in return for support in the form of an endorsement there is  usually some form of quid pro quo.  Something is given, something is received.  Politics is not a zero sum game and politicians and their supporters are not totally altruistic. The unfortunate thing is that the  residual losses required to offset the gains realized by the players (in this case the mayor and the union) are absorbed by the public.

The Winnipeg Police Association already received what many observers consider to be, at the very least, a “down payment” in return for their support – that being the addition of 77 dues paying union positions.

Further, the association has been advocating for years, without success,  to amend the Winnipeg Police Regulations to allow for discipline records to be expunged.  A  few months  ago the association received what could be viewed as a ‘second payment’.    This time it was in the form of favourable legislation resulting in a change to the police regulations as it related to the expunging of discipline records.

Will the Winnipeg Police Association be receiving anything else?

They just might.  In comments to the media the mayor said that police in Winnipeg are under paid and  is quoted as saying, “I can guarantee none of us would do that job for what they get paid”.   Well, perhaps the mayor wouldn’t (he has never struck me as police officer material), but I think many others would, as illustrated by the number of applicants for police positions.   That comment coming from the lips of the mayor during a year when the City will be negotiating a contract with the Winnipeg Police Association could be worth a few bucks to the association.

With negotiations now at a deadlock, arbitration is just around the corner.  I’m willing to wager (only with the approval of the Manitoba Lotteries Commission of course) that  the Association’s lawyers will be using the mayor’s quote as the centerpiece in their attempt to  justify a larger pay increase.

If that scenario were to play out and the arbitrator were to be persuaded to up the award  by, say, a quarter to a half per cent, what would that cost taxpayers?  Answer:  in the range of $375,000.00 to $750,000.00, and that would just be in the first year.  Wage awards, because they are cumulative, are gifts that keep on giving.

That begs the question:  was the mayor’s comment a naive shot from the hip,  a mere slip of the lip or did we just get SAMMED again?

Political Interference in Police Investigations

We are so lucky to be living in Winnipeg!

In Winnipeg we can count on pictures in the media of the Chief of Police and the Mayor grinning like… well you know.

Things are different in  Miami Florida where Miguel Esposito the chief of police,  has accused Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado of  interference in police operations.  There are few grins to be had in Miami.

(Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald)

Exposito is alleging that the mayor interfered with a gambling enforcement operation and accused the mayor of going beyond the legal bounds of his office.

The hostilities between the mayor and the chief  stem from the Mayor’s support for an ordinance regulating coin operated machines that can be used for illegal gambling.

The machines in question could generate as much as $750,000.00 for the city annually.

This very public dispute between the mayor and the chief of police has a predictable conclusion.  The mayor will fire the chief and hire a chief whose views on gambling align more closely with those of the mayor’s.

We are so lucky we live in Winnipeg.

We have a mayor who just recently stated that he has NEVER interfered with police operations and is not planning to do so – at least, in his words, not right now.

Oh what a relief it is.

Just Answer the Question, Sam

When I read Bartley Kives’ interview with Mayor Sam Katz in today’s Winnipeg Free Press where Kives asked the mayor about the murders in the north end, two things came to mind: firstly,  the answer does not fit the question, and secondly, in the words of Shakespeare, he  “doth protest too much, methinks”.

It is not unusual for politicians to avoid answering questions put to them by the media.

What is unusual (and curious) is when  politicians offer up information that although not relevant to the question invites all kinds of other questions while revealing  their insecurities and self doubt about the things they are doing.

In his year end interview with the Mayor, Bartley Kives asked the Mayor a simple question:  FP: How do you feel about the unsolved triple shooting at the end of October?”

The Mayor’s reply was It was not a good day in the City of Winnipeg, I’ll be blunt with you. I assume (the police) are still doing their investigation and will come up with information and hopefully solve it. For all I know, they could have suspects as we speak. But I don’t know, because I don’t interfere with police investigations. I have never done it before and I have no intention of doing it right now.”

Let’s analyze the part about the shootings not being “…a good day in the City of Winnipeg…”

He seems more concerned with the overall image of the city, but is this the time to be worrying about it in this context?!  What kind of day do you think it was for the 3 people who were shot?  What kind of a day to you think it was for their relatives, friends and neighbours?  What kind of day do you think it was and still is for the neighbourhood where the random shootings took place when they are advised by police that they couldn’t protect them and they should stay in their houses?

When you look at the Crimestat map depicting homicides, shootings, muggings and sexual assaults in a few of Winnipeg’s north end communities, it’s readily obvious that it’s been awhile since those communities have had a “good day in the City of Winnipeg”.

Winnipeg Police Crimestat (depicting homicides, shootings. muggings and sexual assaults  between January 1st 2010 and December 27 2010)

The mayor went on to say “I assume (the police) are still doing their investigation and will come up with information and hopefully solve it. For all I know, they could have suspects as we speak.”

Unless the mayor is not reading the briefing notes he is sent (or dozing off during his weekly briefings with the chief of police), there is no need for him to make any such assumptions on the progress of an ongoing investigation. To suggest he is taking a disinterested ‘hands off approach’ in terms of the progress of this investigation means he is either a fool or he is negligent.  Politicians need to keep themselves informed and abreast of what is happening.  To pretend otherwise is cause for concern.  The mayor can and should be kept informed about the progress in an investigation of this magnitude and it can be accomplished without piercing the ‘sacred veil’ of police operations.

Lastly, the Mayor says:  “But I don’t know, because I don’t interfere with police investigations. I have never done it before and I have no intention of doing it right now.”

Where is this comment coming from?  Where in the interview is it suggested that he has or may be interfering with police investigations? Why the unsolicited denial?  Even the layperson knows that there is a big difference between being briefed and being kept aware of the progress of police investigations, and interfering in them.  Politicians should keep themselves informed, and they must not yield to the temptation to interfere.

The mayor then qualifies his statement further by saying he has never done it (it being, interfering with police investigations) and that he has no intention of doing it right now.  Never is a pretty strong word. All inclusive, leaves little wiggle room, little room for interpretation. Never means never. Not even once.

The mayor says he will not interfere with the ongoing police investigation “right now.”  Does that mean he is reserving the right to interfere in this or other police investigations in the future?

The New Winnipeg Stadium – The Real Cost to Tax Payers

The Mayor is quoted as saying that for an investment of only 6% of the overall cost of $190 million, Winnipegers are getting a new stadium.

That 6% is made up of 10 million dollars in outright grants from the city, and 1.6 million dollars in new infrastructure requirements at the new stadium site.

That’s 11.6 million dollars.

A further 1.1 million dollars in the form of  ‘in kind’ services for building and development permit fees is thrown in as a freebie.

The Mayor is right.  If the $1.1 million in in-kind services is ignored, the $11.6 million works out to approximately 6 % of the overall 190 million dollar estimated cost of the new stadium.

Now if that were the real cost to Winnipeg tax-payer, that would be a good deal.

However, the Mayor (as he frequently does) is telling only a portion of the story.

The City is on the hook for a further  75- 85  million dollars (depending on which numbers you look at) which will be repaid using tax dollars generated through the Tax Increment Financing scheme once the site of the current Winnipeg Stadium is sold and redeveloped.

Because this is new money,  the mayor has conveniently chosen to ignore it.  If this additional money (cost) is factored into the City’s contribution to the stadium project, the total cost to Winnipeg tax payers is in the range of  87 million dollars.

That ups the City’s percentage contribution to the project from 6% to 46%.

In the words of Brian Kelcey,  a former advisor to Mayor Katz, the mayor and councilors need to remember that:

“Just because it’s new money, doesn’t mean it isn’t real money”

Taking into account the true cost to Winnipeg tax payers, is this still a great deal?

Tax Increment Financing

What is Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Let’s look at it this way.  There is a piece of  property that is generating minimal tax revenue.  If that property were developed and turned into, say, a shopping mall, the newly developed property would yield significant tax revenues.  The upfront costs of the development are high and require borrowing.  In order to pay back the borrowed money, the ‘tax increment’ (that being the difference between the amount of taxes collected prior to and after the development takes place) is designated to pay back the loan incurred to fund the development.

A simplistic depiction might look like this:

  • Current taxes collected on the property    $100
  • Development costs  $100,000
  • Post development taxes $10,000
  • Tax increment $10,000 – 100 = $9900
  • For the first 10-15 years post development the city would use the tax increment ($9900) to pay back the development loan
  • Once the loan is paid off, the taxes generated from the development would return to the city’s general revenue stream

History of  Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Although relatively new in Canada and especially Manitoba, TIF has been used in the United States for almost 60 years.  In Manitoba the government introduced a bill in 2008 which led to the enactment of the Community Revitalization Tax Increment Financing Act in 2009.

In a 2008  news release when the legislation was announced, the government indicated:

“Our priorities for TIF include support for the further development of Winnipeg’s  inland port, rapid transit system, as well as affordable housing in downtown Winnipeg”.

The government further stated:

Money collected from a community revitalization property would then be invested only in the same designated area”.

The press release concluded by saying:

Tax increment financing is used in several American cities to support revitalization and renewal initiatives.  In Manitoba these levies would be used to support economic development, community revitalization such as housing, social and cultural development and heritage preservation”.

The minister of the day also stated:

It is our intent to consult with and report on the use of tax increment financing to ensure full accountability and support for our priorities”.

The Community Revitalization Tax Increment Financing Act was passed in 2009.

General Assessment of Tax Increment Financing

In the United States TIF has been widely used as a tool to spur economic development in depressed areas.  The general conclusion seems to be that if properly used, TIF can be a valuable tool.

There have been some general criticisms about TIF schemes.  They include:

  • designation of areas as TIF designated areas that would have been developed in any event even without designation;
  • favouritism and special advantage for developers who are politically well-connected; and
  • tax payers bearing the cost of additional public services needed to service the newly developed property.

As an early  attempt at TIF, the Stadium Project, does not seem to fall in line with the stated goals and priorities announced in 2008 prior to the introduction of the legislation.

The tax increment ‘generated’ in the downtown area is being ‘spent’ in the south end of the city- not to develop an inland port, not to support rapid transit, not to create housing in the downtown.  No, instead its being used to build a new stadium at the University of Manitoba.

Stadiums, Marijuana and Photo radar.

Putting the power in the hands of the people who live with the consequences and pay the bills.

Americans are different from Canadians – we all know that.

Their system of government and governance is different as well.  Americans are more likely to demand a direct say in what their governments do at all levels but especially at the local and state levels.

Canada has a different form of democracy, less direct, less hands on. We have a parliamentary system of government; America is a republic.  Under both systems the representatives of the people, once elected, make decisions on our behalf; decisions that may or may not reflect the views and values of their constituents.

Referendums allow the people to have a direct say in what the law should be and which projects should be funded. What a novel idea.

In Canada referendums are rare.  In the United States, referendums are  common and used as tools to guide politicians in terms of what the people want.

The recent mid-term elections in the United States featured many local and State referendums.  The following are of some interest.

In California, Proposition 19, if it had passed, would have seen the elimination of all criminal penalties for adult Californians (21 years of age) who planted marijuana plots up to 25 square feet or possessed up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use.  The proposition did not pass (54 % opposed) but organizers are already planning to put the issue back on the ballot for 2012.

In South Dakota, Measure 13 would have allowed for the medical use of marijuana .  It was defeated with 60% of voters rejecting the measure.

In San Diego, Proposition D, which would have increased sales tax by one half a percent to fund municipal spending, was soundly defeated.  In a bid to gain support for the measure, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders had been threatening dramatic cuts to public safety spending if Proposition D failed.  It seems the people in San Diego voted against the measure because they did not trust officials to spend the money wisely.

And lastly, an issue that resonates in Winnipeg:  In Houston, where 800,000 offence notices had been issued since 2006, just over 53 per cent of the votes rejected the continued use of photo radar.  The revenue collected since its inception in Houston amounted to 44 million dollars.

Some Winnipegers might appreciate having a direct say on the issue of stadium funding. Again, what a novel idea, actually asking the people who will have to pay back the loan if they wish to borrow the money.  This, as opposed to allowing millionaire developers and city and provincial politicians (who seem to have difficulty recognizing the difference between an “estimate” and a “wild guess”) making decisions and sending us the bill once all the back room dealing is done.

I sometimes get the feeling we are in a high stakes card game with a number of card sharks.  The problem is the card sharks are playing with our money and we, the public, barely have a seat at the table .  In such a scenario we need to know when, in the words from a popular song, we should “hold’em,  fold’em, when to walk away and when to run”.

With the stadium funding issue, running might be a good option.  Clear the deck, get new players to the table and deal a new hand. Never mind that a hole has already been dug.  It would not be the first time governments have hired people to dig holes and then fill them in.

Perhaps politicians might be surprised with the results if they engaged in open and meaningful consultations with the public.  Given the right time, right location, and most importantly the right players, Winnipegers might just support a major investment of public money to build an appropriate stadium.