WHAT'S UP IN THE RM OF STE ANNE?


THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

I'm getting to meet some really neat people on the campaign trail!  And, I'm getting to know more about the many resources and innovative folks we have all over the RM - like these kids who have made a 'ramp' out of logs and plywood –  





The Voter's List leaves something to be desired. There's no enumeration this year.  If you want to be on the Voter's List you need to go to the Municipal Office during business hours or show up at the Voting Station with your ID. The current Voter's List has people on it that shouldn't be on it like those who aren't Canadian citizens. There's people not on the Voter's List who tell me they've been voting at elections.

Here's some 'stories' from the Campaign Trail which so far has mostly been in and around Ward 2.


Stories about how dusty Loewen Blvd is – so dusty that one woman had a wall of plastic put up to keep some dust off her veranda, another woman said she had to bathe her black lab several times a week because he'd be covered with dust.  There's some repairs happening on the road now, that's a shared responsibility by the RM of Ste Anne and LaBroquerie. One man who said he's been told by the Councillor "don't call me, I'm old." asked me, "When will Loewen Blvd get paved?"  I replied, "The Councillor said 'not in his lifetime.'"  I added that might not be long since he's old...

One young man who suffers from blindness wants to have a house built. He's worried that he may not be able to have the house built because he's heard how hard it is to get a building permit in the RM of Ste Anne and about the basement restriction. He said he's already had a lot of problems with the RM about his driveway approach.  I felt sad for this young man, afflicted with blindness who is worried that he might not be able to get a building permit despite the fact that the zoning for his area has no building restrictions, just those that the Councillor/Public Works 'Chair/Supervisor' adds at his discretion.

One couple is frustrated because the RM won't snow plough the road they live on. They say that the Councillor says the road wasn't built according to RM specifications and therefore won't clear snow etc. I gave them some advice on what to do that might get to the bottom of their dilemma. 

Then there's the gun range - Mike Toews said he hears it being used after sunset and on Sundays. He's heard of a situation where a bullet whizzed by someone's head. Mike has talked to the RM about it but they think since the gun range has a 'licence' to operate there's nothing that can be done. The argument is brought up that the gun range was there first. That's not accurate when it comes to the Toews family who have been in this area since time immemorial. At any rate, the argument doesn't hold water anyway since there's more people living and traveling near the gun range now. 

Sept. 11, 2018

It's been awhile since I last wrote. There's always much to do besides campaigning to keep the momentum going and to get the 'message' out.  Signs have been put up, the one at the Giroux turnoff on the # 12 highway disappeared  – vamoosed. Some got some wind damage but overall the signs have fared well. Running in an election against three men helps. There's 'them' and then there's 'me.'  We all have the same job to convince voters and with around 2000 homes in the municipality it's a big challenge to get our message out.

But we all try.  Yesterday, I saw a farmer on a tractor off Dawson Road and took a gander through a ditch with weeds three feet high to see if the fair-haired man, about 60 could stop for a chat.  He got out of the tractor, and in no time, we were talking and laughing up a storm. He had an opinion on just about everything in the municipality.  "Why don't you run for Council?" I asked.  "I'd end up in jail, " he replied with a laugh. "Ya, but I'd be there with you," I assured him.  




Today, I travelled down Dawson Road and in and around Giroux. Most people aren't home, either that or they don't hear my knock. I leave a flyer so they know that I tried to reach them.

Giroux has a busy train track going through it – some very long trains and others that are shorter. The residents say that they have gotten used to the train. One thing that will be missed is Philip's Magical Paradise ,a well known landmark in Giroux that closed its doors last weekend, just too much work needed by the Hornan family to keep it going.




The other thing that's ending in Giroux is the operation of the Giroux Hall.



visited with one older woman in her garage with the door open where she sat at a small table with an iPad and a pack of cigarettes in front of her. She didn't have many complaints with the municipality though she plans on taking the Reeve to task for not providing some money to keep the Giroux Hall going.  It turned out that she wasn't the only resident in Giroux that doesn't want to see the Hall sold. Others did too.


A 46 year resident of Giroux also had plenty to say on that topic. It made me wonder if there isn't a way for residents to 'buy' the Hall. (I put in a call to the real estate agent when I got home to learn more about the Giroux Hall listing.)  I got to talking to Roy Seidler. It's the first time we met though we have a niece who lives in Calgary in common. (Roy's sister was married to my brother.) Roy and I have both written parts of our life stories. We ended up exchanging our books. He and his partner think that Giroux doesn't get enough attention from the RM.   There's some gifted people in Giroux with ideas on how to revive it. I'd like to learn more about them and their community going forward. 

Another treat this evening was stopping in at Doris Toews' house, a neighbour.  "What's that building?" I asked about a small building standing not far from her house. "That's a play house," she said. "Do you want to see it?"



You bet I was interested. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was the home of Heartland Quilters Inc, a registered charity. Twelve women meet every other week to make quilts that find their way to needy homes. Their gifted hands made a hundred and seventy-six intricately designed quilts last year.  I was pleased to learn that the RM had provided a grant to Heartland Quilters Inc. 







A snippet from the campaign trail for now...thanks for reading



                  ****


Stopped by Paradise Village yesterday for the Reach for the Stars fundraiser. Their recreation centre seats 150 and most of the tables were full of happy people.



Randy Eros, the Councillor for Ward 6 (Paradise Village) and his wife were serving hamburgers and hotdogs. I went over to shake his hand but didn't get a chance to chat. Paul Saindon arrived later. I went over to shake his hand too. He made the rounds sitting at various tables while I stayed at one table where the folks had made me feel very welcome. I hesitate to go from table to table because it feels like I am intruding but maybe it's what people expect or endure from political candidates.  Ted Falk was there. I chatted with him a bit. He still flies his Mooney airplane for fun.  He's a down to earth kind of guy. I got along with Vic Toews, actually quite liked him.  We'd run into each other from time to time when he was travelling back and forth from Ottawa and I was going to Toronto for personal reasons. 

***

I went over to the Richer Community Club to introduce myself to some people there, both men and women. I was nervous I guess because I know that Paul Saindon has strong support there.  Someone said they'd like building permits to take less time processing.  I agreed with that, 5 weeks for processing in the RM of Ste. Anne versus 5 days in the RM of Hanover is way too long. I told them that I believe in governing from the bottom up not the top down and that we need by-laws and common sense policies which reflect what people want and need. I also told them that I have worked a lot with First Nations on remote reserves – work that involved the federal, provincial and local governments. I said that I would not be forgetting about Richer if I was Reeve. To me, every person and every community counts, and this is one vibrant community.   





***
Like the other candidates, I have a 'life' outside of campaigning. As an educator, I'm instructing two online graduate courses for Athabasca University. With around 35 students, it's a busy schedule but it's fun most times to get to know students from across the country and assist them with their learning journey. 

           ***
What's going on in the Richer Fire Department?  Council Minutes in July, August and now Sept 4 suggest that something is awry at the Richer Fire Department.  The Sept 4 Minutes indicate that "Council suspends Richer Fire Department members" # 29, # 36 & # 39 'without prejudice' effective immediately and for an undetermined length of time, while investigations are carried out regarding various matters."  ('Without prejudice' is a meaningless term in this context.) "Who" are they & what are the "various matters"?  I've heard some rumours about this but no facts. The other thing that is 'peculiar' is the timing of the motion just prior to the suspensions that granted the Councillor who is also the Fire Chief an LOA until Nov.30. It appears that the 'investigations' are being done by a Committee that includes the Reeve, Deputy Reeve & another Councillor.  If the Fire Chief who is also a Councillor is one of the Fire Department members who has been suspended then the investigation by this Committee is another example of a Conflict of Interest. The Fire Commissioners Office isn't a regulatory body so this office couldn't investigate but just who should isn't clear. The Fire Commissioners Office provides 'educational' materials and guidance re: policies such as the RM makes reference to in their Sept 4 minutes as having requested. 

On another note, yesterday when my son Don was putting up some more signs, he ran into Don Morin, Candidate for Reeve.  My son said that he was an approachable kind of guy. They'd had a good discussion about the RM and the election.  Don Morin apparently wants better roads, more attention to the sewage situation and more rural development in key areas to raise $and so on.  I see no reason to be at odds with my 'opponents.'  We're all vying for the job of Reeve but in different ways. It's for the voters to decide. 

           ***
W
ent to the Richer Fall Supper today with my son for a delicious roast beef dinner, very nice. It was well attended. Got to talking to some people including Dan Gaetre who said that he was going to arrange a Town Hall for the Reeve candidates sometime in October. I also chatted with Bob Lagasse, MLA who was serving the roast beef. He said he'd lost 33 lbs on the 'keto' diet (low carb/high fat) after he'd joined his wife who was on the diet.  I asked him if he got nervous talking in front of people like I've been in Richer. He said, "Yes."  Then explained that the people at the Leg aren't listening anyway, and that it gets better after some practice.  
 That's all I can 'report' without getting into trouble tonight. :) 

  ***


On Monday, I headed out to Richer to pay my advertising bill to Dan Gaetre. I found him hunkered over a computer at his desk in a back room where I cleared a desk chair to sit down and chat, while he tried to get my invoice from an uncooperative computer. I'd already talked to Robert Desautels earlier to get acquainted and pass some concerns by him. He had a stack of nice yellow signs lying on the counter ready for setting up on the campaign trail. Robert and his wife share their lovely new home with youth who are going through difficult times. Kudos to them.  

                                              ***
Headed back to Richer Sept 19 in the evening for a Hearing "regarding a potential $125,000 grant to the Richer Community Club for the purpose of installing a shelter over the ice surface." The Reeve, RM Councillors, CAO & ACAO and around 50 community members attended.  All the Reeve candidates were present except Don Morin. The atmosphere was relaxed, even cheerful. I was surprised and pleased that both the Reeve and Ward 2 Councillor came over separately to chat with me where I sat in the back before the Hearing began.  Dan Gaetre, Editor of the Dawson Dispatch spoke to the reasons why the Richer Community Club should receive the grant. He listed a long list of accomplishments  that demonstrated how much had been achieved over the years with a special highlight being the Richer Rodeo which has received Rodeo of the Year awards every year except 2015.  It's obvious that Richer has a lot going for it because of the creative, hard-working people who make it all happen. Very impressive. Richer has a population of ~ 900, probably with at least a third being children. Like Giroux, and Paradise Village, the residents of Richer use holding tanks for sewage. Should the residents of these communities want to pursue having sewer systems installed, I'd support them as their reeve since there's federal infrastructure funding (40 %) and provincial funding (33 %) available for that.

                                            ***

I've been doing some strategic campaigning, meaning that I have to be selective as to who I go to see since I can't possibly visit 2000 homes, not even on a good day. You hear a lot when you're out and about, talking to people. It seems the moccasin telegraph works well in the 300 square miles of the RM of Ste. Anne...

    ***

There's always a lot going on around the campaign trail like the Ste. Anne fall supper last Sunday. Quite neat.  Snapped pics of some of the candidates from the RM and the Town of Ste Anne out and about.   



Tiana Bohemier - Councillor Candidate, Town of Ste. Anne



Robert Sarrasin, Councillor Candidate, RM of Ste Anne


Randy Eros, Incumbent, Councillor Candidate RM of Ste Anne


Dave Nelson  Councillor Candidate  Town of Ste. Anne

And, there were others like Cornie Klassen Councillor Candidate from the Town of Ste Anne as well as the now defamed Mayoral candidate, Mike Bernier, looking dejected and confused. I felt sorry for him. I doubt that he knew it wasn't a good idea to go on the web and get campaign slogans holus-bolus from Los Angeles etc and then make them sound original for the Town of Ste. Anne. And, Ray Michaud slipped by the serving table as he quietly introduced himself by name. He's running in Ward 6 against Randy Eros.   

I sent my own flyers out this week – around 1500. It takes time to gel ideas into short descriptions that might catch peoples' interest. Then next week, there's two forums where the Reeve candidates will present their views and be asked random questions, one at Richer and the other a closed forum at Paradise Village where the two Councillor candidates, Randy Eros and Ray Michaud will present as well.

And, then, ratepayers will start to vote on Saturday, Oct 13 for the advanced poll and on Oct 24, election day. I wish everyone well in whatever choice they make.  

      ***

It wasn't clear what's going on with the suspension of the three fire department members at the Richer Fire Dept from the Dawson Dispatch, Steinbach Online and the Carillon news reports this week but it seems they've been fired by the RM for various 'matters' according to Steinbach Online. Not good news for the fire department members or Richer but the Sept 19 $125,000.00 RM recreation grant commitment for the arena there will be some compensation.  

     ***
Had one call from an older voter yesterday who wanted to know what my platform was. "How do I know who to vote for?" he asked then added, "how many signs they have or how big they are?" He didn't throw in three men versus one woman as another difference. I liked him and his French accent.  Then a French couple called. The man asked if I didn't recall meeting him at the Giroux Hall back in 2005 when I was at an RM hearing there about a proposed development plan. Yes, I told him, I remembered him. I also recalled the advice he gave me outside afterward. "You're an attractive woman. You could get married." He thought it was a good option instead of trying to make a dent in RM of Ste. Anne politics. I listened to this couple on their speaker phone about some RM issues they were having and referred them to someone who could assist them. The 'nurse' in me always wants to 'help.' 

    ***

Tonight (Oct 9) was 'debate' night in Richer between the four reeve candidates. It was well attended with a nice receptive audience. I sat between Rob Desautels and Don Morin, Paul Saindon sat at the end of the table. I was surprised to hear that I only had 2 min for an opening 'statement' – when I was prepared to introduce myself and my platform for ten minutes. Ha Ha on me.  The questions were good. I enjoyed the evening and meeting up with folks that I'd met before and some that I hadn't. There's a lot of talented people in Richer and thereabouts as there is everywhere in this municipality. Whoever gets to be reeve is lucky. And last but not least, the hard working Dan Gaetre, Editor of the Dawson Trail Dispatch deserves a big thanks for organizing the event. I haven't known Dan for long but it's obvious that he works very hard for Richer and whoever comes across his path that needs a helping hand. 

The closing remarks for the debate can be found on youtube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZltueOCFfk

One thing that I meant to say at the debate to clear the air is that I'm not 'suing' the RM. I've heard rumours to that effect. Anyway, the truth of it is that the RM made a resolution without warning against the subdivision that I have on Loewen Blvd. My lawyer said council had no right to make the resolution under municipal law. The only option a ratepayer has when an RM does something like this is to file a complaint with the Court of Queen's Bench.  So I did. However council rescinded the resolution before the case got to the Court of Queen's Bench.  It's very unfortunate when something like this happens but if I'm elected reeve, it won't happen. I'll see to it that council works within municipal laws on all matters.  Provincial legislation is there to benefit ratepayers and needs to be applied to all ratepayers fairly. 

***

The reeve and councillor debate at Paradise Village last night was a highly charged event. Yes. These seniors have a lot to say and no problem saying it. I loved it. They're also on a 'fixed income' so it really matters when taxes and the Paradise Village fees they pay go up. They're caught between a rock and a hard place. My heart went out to them. I know that I could help by working with them.

A number of issues that came up were dismissed by the current politicians on stage with me as 'been there, done that.'  I don't give up that easily, not someone who had to quit school at the age of 15 to go to work in the sewing factory to pay for her parents first home, someone who went on to get a PhD from one of the toughest faculties at the university and someone who lost her husband, the captain of 48 passenger airplane, walked through the wreckage the following morning, dealt with her husband's dismembered body, then started flying lessons 6 months later to cope with the million dollar investigation and the aftermath of the crash and then made a commemoration flight as a novice pilot wearing her husband's wedding ring on her left hand to the crash site, in a two-seater airplane over the vast northern Manitoba wilderness where there's no roads to land on in case of an emergency and so on.  

There's always a time to look at old issues another way by methodically reexamining the 'evidence' - the pros and cons and put your case forward without bruising too many egos along the way.  Solid evidence makes all the difference.


And then there was the other dynamic going on between the men sitting on either side of me on stage when several started disagreeing with each other forcefully. Don Morin wasn't as nervous at this debate as the night before in Richer. I don't know Don but he seems a good man. I've gotten to know Robert Desautels some.  Ray Michaud did OK too tonight. He got his points across, all of them sensible and insightful based on his previous experience as a councillor. 

Somehow we got on the topic of a lazy RM of Ste Anne grader operator who sits in restaurants instead of working.  I asked Paul if the grader didn't have a 'counter' on it so you know when it's running. Paul said, "no"  but my son told me later that all these graders have counters that keep track of when the machine is running.  My son explained that the problem is that the lazy operator could leave the grader running while sitting in the restaurant however he said there's another gizmo that you can put on the grader to keep track of when its actually running and where it is.  All this shouldn't be necessary. The topic came up, why not fire him? Paul said he was just one vote and this is a democracy and the others on council weren't willing to fire him. I'd find a way to get him fired. This is ridiculous. Mind you this isn't the first time this Council hasn't known how to address 'employee issues,' the Richer fire dept debacle shrouded in secrecy being a case in point.

Don Morin has raised the issue of 'missed opportunities' in the RM like the rezoning of Cottonwood Golf Course to allow condos in 2016. The RM didn't allow it, and Cottonwood Golf Course is now defunct.  Residents in the area had opposed it saying they moved to the country to have a quiet life etc.  Residents need to keep in mind that they pay the majority of the municipal taxes. Either their mill rate will need to be increased as time goes on or they will need to support further development to distribute the tax base. The following is a link to Steinbach Online that carried the story in 2016.  https://steinbachonline.com/local/a-rezoning-application-draws-residents-in-the-rm-of-ste-anne


I drove home in what turned out to be blizzard conditions on the TransCanada but made it home intact.  

***
I've been thinking about the RM's role in the Richer Fire Dept. Why isn't the fire department managed by the Richer LUD?  Public services are generally better administered locally than at a distance. In order to avoid conflict of interest issues such as the RM of Ste Anne currently finds itself in, the LUD could decide how to manage staffing, evaluation and the education/certification of the fire department members at arm's length. The Office of the Fire Commissioner would act as they always do – as an education resource. The RM would retain the role of administering the budget and planning fire coverage for the municipality. 

The Office of the Fire Commissioner conducts fire investigations. They DO NOT carry out investigations of fire department members' conduct. 

***

Sunday, Oct 14. I went to Ste. Anne yesterday to cast my vote for reeve and you guess how that went. Tiana & Colette said the first voter had been at the poll by 8 AM despite the sleet and snow. They thought the voting would be brisk in Richer because some folks would be going to play bingo there.  

Speaking of Richer, the community needs a sewer system. There is federal and provincial funding available to cover about ~ 75% of the cost. It's my firm belief that the shortfall could be addressed from other sources. I don't know if Paradise Village would be eligible for the funding since they're privately owned, or what size a community has to be to receive the funding. Perhaps, Giroux would be eligible too. If Machu Picchu high in the Andes of Peru could have a sewer system 500 years ago, then we have no excuse in Manitoba for not having them for our residents here. 

I've also noted in my flyer and at the 'debate' in Richer on Oct. 9 that I would honour Francophone and Metis 'rights' in areas of the RM where this needs to be accommodated.  This isn't election 'hype' since it might 'cost' me votes too among voters of other origins.  Nevertheless, it's been my belief that Aboriginal people which includes the Metis in addition to the Francophone population need their rights respected. My advocacy research with First Nations in the north demonstrates this, as does the historical display that I had erected in 2012 in my subdivision. The display begins with Lake Agassiz and First Nations and continues on to describe the arrival of French people, then the Metis including Louis Riel and his grandmother, the call for settlers and the history around the RM of Ste. Anne. I also erected a bilingual street sign.










                                                      ***

I said that I'd review the RM tax statements re: the public works/chair who is also a councillor and the fire budget because both budgets were outside of the norm. 

RE: PUBLIC WORKS CHAIR "Indemnities" (This appears to refer to compensation in addition to that of an elected councillor excluding expenses.) 

2013: PW CHAIR INDEMNITIES  16,000.00
2014: PW CHAIR INDEMNITIES 18,000.00

2015: PW CHAIR INDEMNITIES  23,500.00 

2016: PW CHAIR INDEMNITIES  24, 450.00
2017: PW CHAIR INDEMNITIES  25,900.00

2017 Financial Statement (Compensation ~ $179,635.00)

NAME       AMOUNT     EXPENSES

Reeve           25, 103.00         1001.00

Ward 1         23, 139.00            554.00
Ward 6         22,742.00          1292.00
Ward 4         20,371.00               89.00

Ward  5        20,392.00             176.00 

Ward 2         45,146.00            9501.00
Ward 3         22,742.00              176.00



This 'business' of being both an elected councillor as well as receiving compensation for additional 'activities' that are not directly related to council is ill advised for obvious reasons. 

The Manitoba Municipal Act Policy and Procedures (https://www.gov.mb.ca/mr/mfas/pubs/mmo/procedures_manual_201710.pdf) provides information on Councillor compensation and activities. See Part 3: page  3.5.2 etc with examples of councillor related 'activities' (extra meetings etc) and compensation. Such is the case with Larry Tetrault, councillor with the RM of LaBroquerie who receives higher compensation for additional 'activities' as a Board member of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. (Yes, I checked this out too. :)
 
 
 
The RM of Ste Anne fire budget has been higher than the RM of LaBroquerie for the previous 4-5 years.  An accountant would need to make the comparisons between the two municipalities and others to determine where and why spending differs. 

The RM of LaBroquerie Fire Protection:

2014: ~ 160.000.00
2015: ~ 153,000.00
2016: ~ 137,000.00
2017: ~ 148,000.00

The RM of Ste Anne Fire Protection:
2013: ~  240,000.00
2014: ~  245,000.00
2015: ~  265,000.00
2016: ~  275,000.00
2017: ~  283,000.00

The RM of Tache Fire Protection includes 3 fire halls but eg this RM spent ~ 268,000.00 in 2014. 

There may be an explanation for these differences that would become apparent if an accountant reviewed the numbers. I'll leave this for the next Reeve & Council to 'dig' into. If I'm elected Reeve, it's something that I'll want an explanation for and would let ratepayers know the reasons. 


       ***

Saturday, Oct. 20th.


So what is the 'story' here and what does this have to do with the election?


These are my grandparents, Jacob & Margaret Wiebe, Jacob looking like the 'colorful' man he was.  Margaret died before I was born, and I never got to know Jacob on account of being his 'illegitimate' granddaughter. I learned this week that Alan Wiebe  one of the younger candidates running for council in Steinbach, who I have admired and exchanged emails with because we have common political values and interests, is a cousin's son!  



We are looking forward to getting better acquainted after the election.

I've been chatting with voters this week, listening to their concerns and sharing mine. What a privilege it's been getting to know some very gifted and swell people. 

It's just a few more days before the election.  I wish everyone the best in making their choice for reeve and council.  I also wish the three other reeve candidates well as they head for the home stretch, and to Reeve Bergmann as he begins his retirement, and the best too for Kevin Lansard and Roger Massicotte in their endeavours. 

I'll be meeting up with some more folks in the next few days, as well as keeping up with my online students who are submitting assignments for grading, and get in some walking, weather permitting. 

***

Oct 24...election night, and I came in # 3.  Paul Saindon, who stands for the Status Quo was elected Reeve with ~ 30 % of the vote.  The other three who stood for Change split the majority of the votes ~ 70%.  

It's obvious that 70% of voters aren't happy with the direction that the RM is going.

Reeve Bergmann on the other hand, said in his interview with Steinbach Online that Paul Saindon being elected is a ringing endorsement of ratepayers being happy with the status quo. Jamie Roy of Steinbach Online didn't point out in this puff piece that Paul only got 30% of the vote.

https://steinbachonline.com/local/bergmann-reflects-on-16-years-at-the-helm-of-the-rm-of-ste-anne

Dec 5, 2018

The Dawson Trail Dispatch took a courageous step in their December issue by enabling the former Richer Fire Dept members, Robert Desautels and Don McDougall to have the opportunity to put forward their perspectives as to why they were 'fired' by the RM of Ste Anne. The RM appears determined to put this chapter behind them. It remains to be seen how this will yet turn out. 













 

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