My haphazard notes, impressions, and thoughts in no particular order from the debate Monday night:
Dr. Jon Gerrard (Liberal)
Hugh McFadyen (PC)
James Beddome (Green)
Stan Struthers (NDP)
Colin Craig (Cdn Taxpayer Federation)
I missed the openings for Jon and Hugh because my garage door came off the rails and jammed, trapping my truck in my garage. (Yeah, that’s right James: I drive a truck. It’s a small one though and I carpool to work.)
Stan’s opening: we can’t shy away from making the “tough decisions” (an ironic choice of words I thought); if we go down the east side “there will be no sale at the end of the line”, implying that the U.S. will not buy power from us if we do so – a theme that came up several times; and talk of lawsuits etc. for an east-side route. He also said something else interesting: that the west side route would allow exporting power to Saskatchewan, while mocking the idea of building a line all the way over from the east side route. More on that later.
James was as well prepared for the debate as anyone. His position was that Bipole III need not be built at all, and that we should focus on conservation of energy and increasing renewable energy sources instead of exporting to the U.S. with uncertain profit margins, pointing out that the costs of producing hydro power have escalated over the years. (My thought as he was saying this was that from a ‘green’ perspective, exporting hydro power is beneficial because it largely displaces fossil fuel power and reduces green house gas emissions.)
Jon, while acknowledging the inferiority of the west side route, advocated for the under-lake route rather than the east route. At one point, during a discussion about reliability, the conversation turned to east side vs. under lake, which Stan Struthers must have loved. Jon is very soft-spoken and there was a camera blocking my view of him, so for me it was almost like he wasn’t even there.
Hugh generally got the largest applauses of the evening, and argued very cogently on most points. He ran over time on several occasions, and Colin Craig, perhaps showing a little bias, was reluctant to crack the whip and cut him off. There was one time where Hugh voluntarily stopped talking because of shouting from the crowd when Colin refused to prevent him from finishing his somewhat lengthy thought.
Colin was also involved in the funniest moment of the evening, when Professor John Ryan took the microphone to question Hugh’s numbers. His run up to the question was rather long, and Colin took the mic away, only to give it back after protests from the audience, but then there was an amusing little wrestling match over the microphone itself. Colin had a couple pretty good jokes through the evening too, but otherwise left the talking to the politicians. Overall the debate had a good tempo, and Colin deserves credit for that.
Stan Struthers had the unfortunate task of representing the NDP in front of a mostly unsupportive audience, but loyally carried the party’s position. He drew jeers for two things:
1) his claim that the U.S. would not buy power from us if the east side route was chosen, even after former Hydro President and CEO Len Bateman got up and told him he was full of shit (but in slightly different words). Stan was very cagey at first. He said that the U.S. politicians “were very clear” that they would not buy power “if we kept doing things the same way.” Oh, is that very clear? Sounds pretty damn vague to me. He would NOT say “if we build bipole III down the east side”. At least not the first several times it came up, but eventually he did make a more direct connection with the east side which drew boos from the audience who knew better,
2) his mention of privatization. It did not come up as a question, but Stan made sure to weave it in to some of his responses. One time it drew jeers so loud that you couldn’t even hear him talk. “Stop wasting our time” people would yell, during Stan’s futile attempt to convince people that Hugh is actually Gary Filmon, only more evil.
I had some conversations with the candidates after the meeting. Highlights:
Jon Gerrard: I questioned Jon about confusing an already confusing topic by adding the third underwater alternative, suggesting that if he sided with Hugh leading up to the election it would give voters two clear choices and would maximize the chance that the west side route would not be built. Jon would not be swayed however, and insisted that the underwater route needs to be on the table right now. I think I insulted him a little bit when I said it wouldn’t get built because the Liberals would never win power, but he rightfully pointed out that they could hold the balance of power and have influence that way.
James Beddome: I had a good time talking with James, who it turns out is not a stranger to this blog. He and I agree on certain things, like the concept of inverted Hydro rates and allowing small private generators of electricity to feed power back into the grid. At one point when I was talking to James, Hugh came over to complement James on his intellectual consistency and his thoughtful arguments. I also found out that his nick name is Jimmy Bop, although I thought Elle (Federal NDP candidate) said “Jiffy Pop”, so I will forevermore refer to James as Jiffy Pop.
Hugh McFadyen: I had a good chat with Hugh too, about converters and the west side route. When I suggested the underwater route would allow us to avoid the most problematic areas of the east side, Hugh said no, not really, because the underwater route may still go through Poplar River traditional territory, and they are the First Nation most opposed Bipole III.
On the converter issue, I argued that he should include converters in his cost estimates for the East side to give his numbers more credibility, and also to undermine the NDP’s only argument related to reliability. When Stan Struthers was questioned on reliability all he had was the fact that they are building new converts to add redundancy to the Dorsey station – something the PCs would likely do too, but cannot claim because they are not including the costs in their estimate. Hugh tells me that for technical reasons the converters for an east side route would be cheaper than the west side converters, but reliable estimates are not available yet.
Finally, Stan Struthers: I questioned Stan on one thing – his claim about being able to export power to Saskatchewan more easily from the West side. I pointed out that both lines terminate south of the city, so is he claiming that we can just splint into the line half way down and divert power off to Saskatchewan?
Stan: the engineers have assured us that we can send power to Saskatchewan.
Me: but you will need converters
Stan: we’re building converters
Me: but those converters are located south of Winnipeg, the same place as the East side converters would be.
Stan: but the west side route goes closer to Saskatchewan.
Me: so you’re saying you would build extra converters somewhere up near Dauphin to export power?
Stan: we’ve already factored in converters
Me: Yes, but those converters are south of Winnipeg. Either way, you’re running a line from Winnipeg to Saskatchewan
Stan: no we would run it from up near Dauphin
[repeat above conversation 4x]
Me: Okay, but you would need additional converters for that, which would cost billions more dollars
Stan: Well, we would sell them billions of dollars in power.
Wow, that was … more difficult than it should have been.
One last note: the power sales to the U.S. are in U.S. currency. Should the bottom fall out of the $US, Hydro would be in big trouble. The scuttlebutt Monday night after the debate was that the infamous NY whistleblower was fired in part because she suggested the possibility of Hydro going bankrupt as a result of a drop in the American dollar.
Now, as your reward for making it through all of that, I give to you the latest in my long tradition of offensive comic panels. This is a doodle I did on my coffee break on Monday when I found out that John Baird was visiting the rebels in Libya:
Thursday, 30 June 2011
My haphazard notes, impressions, and thoughts in no particular order from the debate Monday night:
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
There is not much I can say about the project that One Man Committee hasn't already said, but it should be noted that this isn't quite a done deal just yet. I'm sure it will be, but certain details need to be worked out over the coming weeks. Those details could include the delisting of the former A&B Sound building from the heritage building list. The Mitchell Copp building is also a class II heritage building, and I'm not clear on what is required in order to demo that but maintain the facade. Whatever it is I don't anticipate it being a problem. I am sure that if Chipman wants a building delisted our politicians will trample over each other running to the office of whoever is in charge of delisting.
click to enlarge:
The Free Press has a little bit of advance info on the Longboat develpment, to be announced tomorrow. Most of what I have heard agrees with the Free Press article: there were be a base of about 4-5 stories for retail and office space, and the hotel will be built on top of that. Most of the buildings on the block will be demolished inclding A&B Sound, but the facade of the Mitchell Copp building will be retained.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Mr. Brennan: When we originally looked at the proposal to build the line down the east side, it was at that point being tied in to the existing conversion equipment, and at that point, it was–the converter stations, without considering new generation being added to the system or the reliability associated with something happening to the existing converter stations, it was not included at that point.
When we went to the west side, there was a need to have conversion equipment which, in our opinion, took away reliability issues that we had at that time and at the same time provided for new generation to be able to come down the line at that point in time. So conversion equipment should be considered on both sides in our view.
Converters would be required on the east route to facilitate additional northern generation to be sent south but would not be required to, at present, solve the reliability concern for HVdc line outages.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Acting legend Peter Falk passed away yesterday. Though best known for his Emmy-winning role Columbo, Falk was also the narrator of this blog's namesake movie: The Princess Bride.
Here's a neat little factoid about that: as Falk's character is reading the story to his grandson, played by Fred Savage, he drinks coffee from an Hudson's Bay Co. coffee mug:
Completely useless trivia, yes, but this blog is nothing if not completely useless, so there you go.
Rest in peace, Mr. Falk.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
"If it's broken, fix it, but don't change it."
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Thursday, 16 June 2011
Back in high school we had a phys ed teacher named Schram. He had a first name, but nobody used it. Anyhow, one of almost every student's favourite activities during phys ed class was a sport we dubbed "Schram ball". The rules are as follows:
1. there is a net in opposite corners of the gym
2. put the ball in the other team's net
Those are the rules. You can kick the ball, throw the ball, carry the ball. You can body check, grab, tackle. Whatever you want. I suppose eye gouging was frowned upon, but there was no explicit rule against it.
I tell you this, because last night's game 7 Stanley Cup final was not unlike Schram Ball. It was not the same sport that the Canucks excelled at during the regular season. It was a slightly different sport. One where slashing, holding and interference were legal. Now, I am generally a fan of physical hockey and "letting them play", but you don't need dirty hockey to have an exciting game. The 2011 Winter Olympic final is a good example of that.
Set the tone early by chucking people who hold or interfere into the bin, and then pull back a bit and refrain from calling any marginal stuff. That gets you good hockey. You know, I'm not sure that Aaron Rome's hit that earned him a 4 game suspension would have even earned him a minor penalty last night.
And this is certainly no excuse for the rioting after the game. That unfortunate debacle could ruin the chances of us watching the Jets on the big screen at 201 Portage if they ever make a playoff run. However, when you get so far only to have the rules changed on you, it would be very aggravating. Especially when the new rules hurt your best players and favour the other team.
It was certainly a deliberate decision - one that the refs discussed prior to the game. Perhaps they even received direction from league VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy on how to call the game. The same Mike Murphy who suspended Rome for 4 games based not on precedent, but on a gut feeling. The same Mike Murphy who overturned a Canuck goal in the first round last year upon video review, then later admitted it was the wrong call -- according to this wiki article.
Whoever made the decision, it's something for the league's owners and new director of officiating to think about before next year's playoffs. (note: I am a little bit bitter because I was cheering for the Canucks, so you can take that into account. )
related local post: S&M
Thursday, 9 June 2011
An award for the best parking lot strikes me as being the kind of thing that you would only find in Winnipeg.
The first "gold standard" award for parking lots will be awarded to FNP Parking, operators of the Portage Place underground parkade. - fp -Seriously? A parking lot? Congratulations! You've done an outstanding job at being a flat empty space with lines!
Okay, so we'll give out an award for parking lots, but is this really the best parking lot that Winnipeg has to offer? I mean, it's not bad... I park there for work because of convenience, and it's often where I park for Moose games or concerts. They repaint the lines periodically and indoor parking with skywalk access to the arena for $5 is pretty good. But the best? Allow me to take you through my parking lot experience today:
Go through the door with the gold star for parking excellence:
See that the elevator is still busted after more than a week:
Go into the stairwell to take the stairs, passing the used condoms:
Watch out for the exposed electrical!
Wasn't that a great experience? At least the ticket paying machine is working now. So ... congratulations to FNP! Keep up the good work!
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
As a Winnipeg blogger I am obligated by an obscure bi-law to write a post about the return of the NHL to our fair city. Okay, I'll do it, but it will be mostly pictures.
The long awaited moment -- even longer awaited than IKEA -- has finally come! The press conference this morning confirmed it. Chipman was professional and passionate in his announcement. Bettman looked like he was telling his patient that he had inoperable brain cancer. Premier Selinger's speech went something like this:
It's such a pleasure to be here for this announcement. It wasn't long ago that we retired Mark Keane's jersey. Mark was such an outstanding player and he sold me a great mattress. No wait, that was David Keane. Haha. Yooooouuuu'll find us! I love that guy! Except he drives too fast. No wait, that was Steve McQueen. Great actor. Loved it when he sang happy birthday to the President. No wait, that was Norma Jean. Norma Jean is not my lover.She's just a girl that says I am the one. Haha. Where was I? Oh right, welcome back to the NFL!