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|Canada : Manitoba|
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province. The province, with an area of 649,950 square kilometres, has a largely continental climate, with thousands of lakes and many rivers.
|Region Added: Tue, 31 Mar 2015|
Blogs Listed in Canada : Manitoba
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Former Bombers DB Heath hoping to get hands on a Nichols pass Saturday
He really only spent about 14 months with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and yet was named a CFL all-star twice while wearing Blue and Gold. You might say defensive back T.J. Heath left an impression. Heath was not re-signed by the Bombers in the off-season and he took a free-agent deal with the Toronto Argonauts,...
He really only spent about 14 months with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and yet was named a CFL all-star twice while wearing Blue and Gold.
You might say defensive back T.J. Heath left an impression.
Heath was not re-signed by the Bombers in the off-season and he took a free-agent deal with the Toronto Argonauts, the very team that traded him to Winnipeg in September of 2016.
Heath, who had seven interceptions and a touchdown with the Bombers, will face his old team Saturday afternoon at BMO Field in Toronto in a big game for both sides.
Heath was a popular player while with the Bombers and he still professes plenty of love for his former teammates.
“I’m getting to play against a whole bunch of my homeboys, that’s really all it is,” said Heath, who has one interception in five games this season.
“It’s just like sitting down playing Madden. It’s competitive and there’s some arguments. At the end of the day, you love each other but you still want to get that win and that’s how I look at it.”
Heath was on a CFL conference call Wednesday that also included Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols and receiver Weston Dressler and he made sure he got in a couple of pre-game jabs.
“We used to talk about that all the time and that was my goal every day in practice, to try to get one off of him,” Heath said of Nichols. “I know he doesn’t like to give them up and he does a very good job of keeping the ball. I go into the game trying to let it come to me and that’s what I plan on doing once we step on the field.
“I’m looking forward to the matchup. You know Dressler still has it, even though he’s old and I still love him. But he can still play ball and I’m looking forward to the matchup.”
Earlier in the day, Nichols had nothing but praise for Heath.
“He’s a good football player,” Nichols said. “He understands concepts and he does a good job playing the ball. One of the best things he does is, when he has the opportunity, he has hands like a receiver and he catches everything that’s around him. Obviously, he’s a guy you’ve got to be wary of.”
Bombers defensive back Kevin Fogg said everyone on the team understands that Heath’s departure was a business decision.
“That’s my boy,” Fogg said. “It will be good to see him because he was my roommate last year. It will be a fun little reunion and I’m pretty excited. Everybody wants a ball hawk and a guy who is going to make plays and he did that when he was here.”
Nichols showed his playful side during Thursday’s Canada-wide conference call, which also included Heath, Dressler and Argos quarterback James Franklin.
A media member asked all four players to describe how they are dealing with expectations that are not being met to this point in the season. The Argos won the Grey Cup last year and are 1-3 and the Bombers are expected to be contenders to play in the big game this year but have stumbled out of the gate to a 2-3 record.
Heath went first and said, among other things:
“I just try to make my plays that come to me during a game. Just make my plays and do my job and everything else is going to sort out itself.”
Then it was Franklin’s turn, saying, in part:
“Understand too, it’s a long season. Every team wants to be undefeated, every team wants to make the playoffs and go to the Grey Cup.”
Then it was over to Nichols, who elicited laughs by quipping:
Then, after a pause, added:
“I don’t know what else I can add to those cliché answers. I’ll second everything these guys said. Go ahead, Weston.”
At that point, Dressler was off the hook, likely because everyone was chuckling and forgot the question.
Nichols does not believe the Bombers’ offence is in a funk, even though he threw for just 214 yards and three interceptions last week in B.C.
He does admit, though, that there have been lapses which have been very costly.
“Just more consistency is needed,” Nichols said.” We’ve gone through stretches with big play after big play and put up a ton of points in spurts and then have just gone on too many dry spells. The main thing is we’re doing a lot of good things, but we’ve got to move the ball consistently throughout the game and not have those lulls.”
One of those lulls came in the second half on Saturday, when Nichols completed just four passes for 51 yards as the Lions charged back from 17 points down to win.
Veteran defensive backs Chandler Fenner, Chris Randle and Moe Leggett all sat out practice for the Bombers on Wednesday. Fenner, who missed last week’s game, is still questionable for Saturday but Bombers coach Mike O’Shea said he wasn’t concerned about Randle and Leggett … Bombers offensive lineman Paddy Neufeld has been fined for unnecessary roughness for a late hit on Solomon Elimimian of the B.C. Lions in last Saturday’s 20-17 loss.
ER wait times down, but only slightly
Emergency room wait times were down slightly in Winnipeg hospitals last month compared to May. But the figures, released by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Wednesday, show median wait times were largely unchanged from the same month a year ago. The median wait time for all ERs in the city was 1.57 hours in June,...
Emergency room wait times were down slightly in Winnipeg hospitals last month compared to May. But the figures, released by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Wednesday, show median wait times were largely unchanged from the same month a year ago.
The median wait time for all ERs in the city was 1.57 hours in June, down from 1.67 hours in May. They fell at every hospital, including at the urgent care centre at Victoria Hospital.
However, despite the WRHA’s consolidation plan, which is now moving into its second year, the median wait time in June 2018 was virtually the same as it was in June 2017 at 1.53 hours.
Meanwhile, the 90th percentile wait time for patients in ERs – the longest wait times for nine out of 10 patients – also fell to 4.2 hours in June from 4.3 in May, but was also largely unchanged from the 4.23-hour wait in June 2017.
Both wait times measure the length of time it takes for patients to see a doctor or nurse practitioner. The wait times do not reflect the time it takes to be treated and released from the ER.
RB Harris, on pace for best rushing season, has been Bombers biggest bright spot
Take a talented workhorse of a tailback, toss in a big push from the offensive line and stir in a good helping of diverse play-calling. What you get is a recipe for a whole lot of early success in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rushing game. Led by running back Andrew Harris, the 2017 most outstanding...
Take a talented workhorse of a tailback, toss in a big push from the offensive line and stir in a good helping of diverse play-calling.
What you get is a recipe for a whole lot of early success in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rushing game.
Led by running back Andrew Harris, the 2017 most outstanding Canadian in the CFL, the Bombers are currently averaging 171 yards per game along the ground through five CFL contests.
Harris is averaging 90 yards a game, which puts him on pace for a career-high 1,620 yards this season. He led the CFL with 1,035 yards last season.
“We’re showing a lot of different looks,” Harris said Wednesday after the Bombers practised at Investors Group Field. “It’s not just your conventional downhill, outside zone. We’ve got a lot of different guys carrying the ball, a lot of different looks and a lot of different ways to get it done.
“They’re worried about him pulling it or a reverse possibly or a wrong-way run. It makes it a lot easier when I get the ball in those conventional looks.”
It’s been a pedestrian start to the season for the Bombers in general. They are just 2-3 and are not where they want to be defensively or in their passing game on offence.
The running game has been a consistent bright spot.
Eight different players have rushed the ball in the first five games and Harris leads the way with 449 yards on 68 carries. That’s 6.6 yards per carry, which would also be a career-high for Harris if he can keep it up.
The bulk of the supplemental runs have come from rookie quarterback Chris Streveler (228 yards on 32 carries) and slotback Nic Demski (72 yards on 11 carries).
There have been sweep plays to Demski and slotback Weston Dressler, throwbacks to Demski and even a double reverse last week that resulted in just a one-yard gain for rookie receiver Rashaun Simonise.
“They can’t just key on one guy in the run game so it’s nice to have that diversity and have success with other guys running the rock as well,” Harris said.
The big guys up front are loving every minute of it.
“Any offensive lineman who’s ever played football for more than two games will tell you that running the ball is a lot more fun,” centre Matthias Goossen said.
“You’re aggressive, going after it, so we all love running the ball. Andrew is one of the best and anytime we can get him going, it’s great for this team.
“When we get Andrew a bunch of yards, touchdowns, you feel part of it because you are helping him do it. We all do our part. Andrew’s a great guy to play for, super selfless, always giving us love and making sure we know when we’re playing well.”
The Bombers are averaging 27 yards per game more along the ground than any other team in the CFL. The next best team, Calgary, is averaging 144 yards per game, while the third-best team, Hamilton, is at 114.
It’s clear the Bombers have something special in their ground game and yet it hasn’t translated into overall success on the field. They are eighth in the CFL in terms of passing yardage (217 per game), a number that simply must come up for them to have more success.
“It can open up the pass game when we’re running the ball well and we’re protecting up front, so we need to take advantage and find ways to put up more points than we have the last couple weeks,” Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols said.
“We’re definitely not a one-dimensional team by any means.”
It was understandable that the Bombers passing game struggled in the first three weeks with rookie Streveler filling in for an injured Nichols.
Since Nichols returned in Week 4, the Bombers have put up just 214 and 207 yards passing in their two games.
Harris believes there is a good reason for the lower passing numbers, which exist despite the Bombers being fourth in the league in net offence at 381.6 yards per game.
“Overall, in terms of running attempts we’re probably a lot higher than we have been in the past,” he said “It’s just being a more balanced offence. The CFL is 80% passing, 20% rushing for most teams and we’re probably close to 60-40.”
As Harris goes, so goes the Bombers offence
When you’ve got a good thing going, why not do more of it?
Many people questioned why the Bombers didn’t hand off more often late in the game to running back Andrew Harris in last Saturday’s stunning 20-17 loss to the B.C. Lions.
Up 17-0 at halftime, the Bombers blew the lead despite the best efforts of Harris, who had 139 rushing yards, including 77 on nine carries in the second half.
It was the times when Harris wasn’t used that made people mad, and with quarterback Matt Nichols unable to move the ball through the air, the Lions were able to roar back.
“Obviously when you’re feeling it you want to get the ball in your hands but you’ve got to call whatever is run and try to make that play work,” Harris said. “It’s easy for someone to say, this is working, why go away from it? But there’s a lot of different things that go on within an offence.”
Bottom line is, the Bombers seem to thrive when Harris is in beast mode and coach Mike O’Shea knows it.
“When it comes right down to it, our guys like pushing people and our tailback likes breaking tackles and enjoys getting the ball,” O’shea said. “Add it all up and we’ve had some success on the ground for sure.
“It’s fun to watch, they really enjoy it. The whole offence and everybody on the bench enjoys it when Andrew is toting the ball hard.”
Province to monitor air quality in St. Boniface in response to soil testing
A day after revealing excess heavy metals were found in two dozen St. Boniface soil samples, the province announced a new effort to assess the area’s air quality. A new mobile air monitoring station will be set up near the St. Boniface industrial park, likely by the end of August. “This residential neighbourhood that has...
A day after revealing excess heavy metals were found in two dozen St. Boniface soil samples, the province announced a new effort to assess the area’s air quality.
A new mobile air monitoring station will be set up near the St. Boniface industrial park, likely by the end of August.
“This residential neighbourhood that has been built alongside an industrial park that has been established for over 100 years, (its residents) do have environmental considerations,” said Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires on Wednesday.
The unit is expected to cost about $60,000, plus up to $3,500 a year to operate and maintain.
Squires confirmed Tuesday that soil samples from 24 St. Boniface properties exceeded national limits for one or more metals, as set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. That included 18 samples that contained excess lead, six with too much zinc and four with high levels of copper.
On Wednesday, experts also reassured affected residents that vegetables from their gardens pose little risk, especially if they’re washed and peeled.
“Based on the soil sample results, we felt that the human health impacts were very low,” said Dr. Lisa Richards, medical officer of health for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
A provincial fact sheet on gardening and soil contaminants, though, notes that children are especially sensitive to lead exposure, especially if they consume something that contains lead. That act can “reduce intellectual and behavioural development,” according to the public health document.
Meanwhile, the mobile air quality unit will be able to share readings in real time on the province’s website and can operate in all seasons, said Don Labossiere, Manitoba Sustainable Development’s director of environmental compliance and enforcement.
Labossiere said the mobility will also allow the device to eventually be moved to other areas and perhaps even respond to emergencies.
While the province promises to also conduct further soil tests, Labossiere didn’t appear confident that testing will determine the exact source of lead in the area.
“Trying to pinpoint any patch of soil to one particular source … would be quite difficult,” said Labossiere.
Squires said the province will also consult the city on zoning regulations to prevent homes from being built alongside industrial areas in the future.
St. Boniface’s next MLA, Dougald Lamont, said he’s glad to see the province conduct more air quality monitoring.
Lamont, who won the seat Tuesday, said more must be done to reduce the amount of contamination in the neighbourhood, including possible updates to environmental laws.
“Ultimately, we have to make sure that people are not being exposed to toxic metals in their residence,” said Lamont. “We have to enforce environmental laws … and, in some cases, we have to update our environmental laws to make sure that people aren’t being exposed to metals.”
BRODBECK: Plebiscites are good for democracy
Mayor Brian Bowman’s surprise announcement Wednesday to back a proposal that would allow voters to decide whether to tear down the barriers at Portage and Main was a shrewd political move. But it was also good policy. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes good politics and good policy do intersect. Bowman was fighting a losing...
Mayor Brian Bowman’s surprise announcement Wednesday to back a proposal that would allow voters to decide whether to tear down the barriers at Portage and Main was a shrewd political move.
But it was also good policy.
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes good politics and good policy do intersect.
Bowman was fighting a losing battle on his increasingly unpopular idea of spending millions of dollars to open Portage and Main to foot traffic. Public opposition to the idea has become so fierce, it was no longer something Bowman could ignore. Probe Research has conducted numerous polls on the issue over the past two decades and a majority of Winnipeggers has always been against the idea.
For Bowman, going into a fall election, the Portage and Main issue was becoming increasingly problematic. Incumbent mayors are rarely defeated in Winnipeg and the likelihood of Bowman losing in October is extremely remote. Still, you just never know in politics. And to be on the safe side, Bowman needed to get the Portage and Main monkey off his back, especially with a formidable opponent like mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk gaining traction in her campaign against it.
What better way to do that than to agree to Coun. Jeff Browaty’s proposal to put the issue on the election ballot as a separate referendum question? That way, people who might otherwise vote for Bowman could still do so and vote against removing the barriers if they wish.
It was a brilliant move. But it was also the right thing to do.
Direct democracy tends to get shunned in Canadian politics, except in British Columbia where the public has embraced it to a certain extent. British Columbians are voting in a fall referendum on what kind of electoral system they want.
Plebiscites are used regularly in many U.S. states and in countries like Switzerland. But it’s largely a foreign tool of democracy here. Manitoba has had referendum legislation on the books for major tax increases, although it was gutted by the previous NDP government when they raised the PST in 2013.
We don’t tend to vote directly on government issues in Manitoba, or in most of Canada, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t. And that could change after city council debates a motion on Thursday to put the Portage and Main question on the October ballot.
There are a few ground rules that would have to be agreed to before we start going down this path, though. For starters, we can’t vote on everything or even on a multitude of issues every election. It would be impractical and ill-advised for some issues, including those that involve human rights or safety issues.
There would also have to be a process to decide what questions are added to a ballot. The most widely used process is a petition-based one where applicants must reach a certain threshold to get a question on a ballot.
There would have to be a policy on who decides the wording of a ballot question, whether there should be third-party spending rules and if there should be public financing for those campaigns. (My take: there shouldn’t be). All those policy issues can be debated.
The benefit to voting on individual issues is that it empowers the electorate. It gets them engaged in the process and encourages them to become better informed. It also allows them to vote for their candidate of choice while sometimes voting against that candidate on a specific issue. It gives voters a greater say in how they’re community is governed and it gives them more choices.
Some people are afraid of plebiscites because it places a lot of responsibility on the voter. Some opponents argue the public simply doesn’t have the intellectual capacity or ability to make those decisions and shouldn’t have to shoulder that burden.
That’s a cop-out.
If we want an engaged, enlightened citizenry, we have to invite people into the public policy sphere, not just to bitch and complain, but to have a real say over how tax dollars are spent and how decisions are made.
Approving Browaty’s motion on Thursday may be good for Brian Bowman’s political career. But it would also be good for democracy.
Bowman supports plebiscite on opening Portage and Main
Mayor Brian Bowman now wants Winnipeggers to vote on the re-opening of Portage Avenue and Main Street to pedestrians. Bowman announced Wednesday that he’ll support a motion for that vote at Thursday’s council meeting. The motion, which requires council approval, would add a question to Oct. 24 municipal election ballots that asks Winnipeggers if they...
Mayor Brian Bowman now wants Winnipeggers to vote on the re-opening of Portage Avenue and Main Street to pedestrians.
Bowman announced Wednesday that he’ll support a motion for that vote at Thursday’s council meeting. The motion, which requires council approval, would add a question to Oct. 24 municipal election ballots that asks Winnipeggers if they support or oppose the re-opening.
“What we’re being asked to vote on right now is whether or not we would allow Winnipeggers to have their voice be heard. And I see no reason why we would prevent Winnipeggers from expressing their views,” said Bowman.
The mayor also committed to follow the advice of the majority of Winnipeggers, even if they say “no” to the project he vowed to pursue during the 2014 election campaign.
“I would challenge all mayoral candidates to pledge that they’re going to respect the outcome that we would hear from voters. I’m saying right now that I would. I think that’s a reasonable thing to do on such a polarizing issue,” said Bowman.
But the mayor denied claims that his decision to support the plebiscite means he’s flip-flopping on the issue. Bowman said he remains convinced that re-opening the intersection to pedestrians would create a more open, connected and vibrant downtown.
Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk, however, argues Bowman is showing he lacks “the strength of his convictions” on the matter.
“My convictions are clear … I’d vote no on it, along with the vast majority of Winnipeggers,” said Motkaluk.
The candidate said she’s also concerned that third parties may launch expensive public campaigns to sway the vote, without being subjected to the same budget limts and reporting requirements as council candidates.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), who raised the vote motion a month ago, said he’s pleased to see the mayor support it.
“There’s now an opportunity to have a big conversation on this issue. It’s not the biggest issue facing our city but it’s one that has preoccupied people for quite a while,” said Browaty.
The vocal opponent of Portage and Main foot traffic said he believes all Winnipeggers have a stake in the issue, since many who don’t live downtown frequently commute through the intersection.
He argues the potential risks of allowing foot traffic at the site far outweighs the benefits.
“The impacts on traffic, the (danger to) people crossing the intersection. Just on the balance, it doesn’t make sense,” said Browaty.
The councillor said he also believes the re-opening, which is expected to cost around $12 million, should be a low budget priority for council.