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Ruthless measures preface the NDP's 2011 election campaign

It's getting crowded under the bus.

The provincial NDP are shifting their 2011 election campaign into high gear while the Opposition Tories are hibernating peacefully. Friday the NDP started trimming dead wood and you will be surprised to see who they're throwing out.

NDP candidate for mayor Judy Wasylycia-Leis was the first to get tossed under the wheels. They've obviously decided she's gone as far as she's going and its time to shift resources to the provincial campaign.

This morning she woke up to read " Dufferin residents fighting crime/ Getting phone line for anonymous tips."

"This Saturday, about 500 residents of the inner-city neighbourhood will get posters advertising a new phone line dedicated to collecting anonymous tips that will hopefully clear out crack dealers, slum housing and gang houses.

"It's a very tough area," said Chris Burrows.

The 70-year-old former kindergarten teacher is the spokeswoman for the Dufferin-area Citizens on Watch (COW) program and also the wife of Sel Burrows, a community activist credited with cleaning up Point Douglas with its own COW program." (Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 15, 2010)

But, but, but...that's my promise, JustJudy probably gurgled in her cornflakes.

Way back in mid-August, with Sel Burrows at her side, she held a news conference to announce a central platform of her campaign: "the PowerLine program--- residents can anonymously dial a number or send an email to report vandalism, crime trends and problem properties to a central coordinator."

"These kinds of programs work because they make neighbourhoods inhospitable to those who would commit crime, and they give police hundreds more eyes and ears on our streets,” said Sel Burrows who helped establish the first successful PowerLine program in Point Douglas. “When gang members and criminals know they’re being watched and monitored they think twice about engaging in criminal activity.” (Judy for Mayor media release, Aug. 16, 2010)

Suddenly, the tip line is up and running with Sel and his wife at the helm and NO JUDY.

What message does that send?

That the voters don't need Judy Wasylycia-Leis to get this anti-crime measure operating.

Sel Burrows, a lifelong NDP activist, and his wife could have waited two weeks for the election to be over before announcing the Dufferin COW program. They could have waited three weeks and let JustJudy announce it, if she won the mayor's race.

Instead, the announcement was rushed out... why? To be in force by the time Invisible George Hickes has to campaign for re-election in the district?

But Judy Alphabet isn't the only high-profile sacrifice.

The NDP also swallowed hard and threw the nurses union under the bus, too.

"Police in Winnipeg are launching a criminal probe into the death of Brian Sinclair, a homeless man and double-amputee who spent 34 hours waiting in a hospital’s emergency room before dying there in September 2008.

Police made the announcement Friday, nearly six months after Toronto-based Clayton Ruby, a lawyer for the family, called on officers to investigate. They said they will be assembling a team of investigators to look into the death as a potentially criminal matter." (Winnipeg Free Press · Friday, Oct. 15, 2010)

An inquest into Sinclair's death was announced 20 months ago. Yes, that's TWENTY MONTHS ago. And no date has even been set yet.

But the NDP are running out of excuses to delay the inquest. And the last thing they want is an inquest just before or, God forbid, during the election campaign of 2011. So...a police investigation it is.

Don't for one second think that a detective in the homicide division just decided one morning last week to launch an investigation. A Toronto lawyer, sniffing a big payday, suggested a police investigation SIX MONTHS AGO. And that was after Manitoba's chief medical examiner saw no need for police involvement.

Yet, suddenly, the Crown attorneys give the police the go-ahead to treat emergency room nurses like criminal suspects.

A police investigation will take months. If a charge is laid, it will take years to prosecute.

The NDP, particularly the Premier and Health Minister, will have a built-in excuse to refuse to answer any and all questions about the matter during an election campaign.

How convenient that almost 3 years after Sinclair's death, the government officials will claim they simply cannot discuss this, the worst example of their stewardship of the health system.

But to arrange this, they have had to break with the nurses, one of their biggest bases of support. Where they once talked about the Sinclair death as an unfortunate accident, they now want to suggest it was a criminal act. Every nurse on duty at the time at Health Sciences Centre emergency room is now to be considered a likely suspect. They will all need lawyers. Any refusal to talk, even on lawyer's orders, will be seen as a confession of some criminal act or other.

What a boost to nurses' morale, eh.

The NDP needs to solidify the aboriginal voting base up north, so it's an easy choice--alienate the reserves or the nurses. There's less risk that the nurses will swing to the Tories.

That's what happens when the government takes your support for granted.

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