Sunday, September 13, 2009

More leadership coverage

The Winnipeg Free Press has published a fairly detailed summary of the candidates (except for the hapless John Boehm). Each of them is asked for a "Twitter-length bio", what they bring to the race, their positions on some key issues (building the economy, health care, and social and economic justice), and their ability to win the next election. Looking at the discussion of the issues, we find the following:

Building the economy: Swan and Selinger both emphasize green technology as a way of creating jobs. In particular, Selinger mentions investment in wind power, hydro, and geothermal energy, while Swan speculates that Manitoba, being blessed with large amounts of water as well as electricity, could be well placed to become a major player in hydrogen production. Selinger also emphasizes investment in research and development, while Swan advocates using the recommendations of Manitoba's Innovation Council (which he was involved in creating). Ashton's approach to these matters is focused on infrastructure investments (he cites building roads to remote communities as an example) and that he would "use the province's tremendous ethnic diversity to leverage foreign investment in Manitoba and increase the number of trade missions abroad". Both he and Selinger discuss education in this context as well; Ashton simply states the need for more emphasis on post-secondary education, while Selinger is a bit more specific, citing the need to improve high school graduation rates and increase co-op programs in the post-secondary system.

Health care: All three emphasize the importance of prevention, notably by promotion of better lifestyles through Manitoba's unique Department of Healthy Living. Ashton states that he would increase that department's budget and profile. Selinger also advocates strengthening that department; he also wishes to increase volunteerism on the grounds that people who volunteer tend to have better lifestyles. He suggests that a tax credit for volunteerism might be helpful in this regard. Swan mentions chronic disease as "the biggest enemy we have".

Social and economic justice: All three place considerable emphasis on housing. Swan says that he would create a stand-alone Department of Housing, with responsibility for co-operative housing (which currently is handled with other co-ops under MAFRI). Selinger wants to continue existing investments in affordable housing, while Ashton also wishes to "work with the private sector to increase the number of rental units", perhaps through tax incentives. Selinger also cites his record as co-chair of the All Aboard poverty reduction strategy which was launched earlier this year, which invests in housing as well as employment, mental health services, and other poverty reduction initiatives.

Of the candidates, all three high profile guys have domain names registered, but currently redirects to Selinger's caucus bio. Presumably that will change in the next few days. Swan and Ashton both have working sites up (Swan's appears to have been completely redesigned, while Ashton's has plenty of content from before the leadership race began). John Boehm appears not to have a domain registered yet.

Dan Lett seems to think Swan is ahead at this stage due to the support of some labour leaders. Whether this is the case is a bit less clear to me, but the article is worth a read regardless.

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