Unsung heroes Susan Thomson. In the minds of
Winnipeggers, Susan will always be “Her Worship”. She took on the cou- rageous role as first, and so far only, female mayor of Winnipeg from 1992 to 1998, at a time when women were rare in the boardrooms, never mind as the chief of a major city. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg, she came back in 2003 to lead the University of Winnipeg Foundation and spearheaded a campaign that raised $135 million. In between all this, she served as Canadian consul general in Minneapolis and lat- er as a special advisor of Canada-U.S. Relations for the Department of For- eign Affairs. Even with all this behind her, Susan still makes time to serve as a mentor to young women who are look- ing for a political career. Her support and wisdom are much appreciated. Bill Shead. Or perhaps we should
say Lieutenant–Commander William Shead of the Royal Canadian Navy or Mayor Bill Shead of Selkirk or Prairie regional director general for veterans affairs for the Government of Canada or chief executive officer of the Aborig- inal Centre of Winnipeg, or member of the board of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; these are just a few of the many important posts Bill has filled over his lifetime. Through it all, he has remained a cool, thoughtful pres- ence, projecting a quiet wisdom with a willing, but humble smile. A mem- ber of the Peguis Nation and a direct descendent of Chief Peguis who gave so much to the Selkirk Settlers, Bill has
most recently chaired the committee with John Perrin to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the first treaty of Western Canada between Chief Peguis and Lord Selkirk. Bill is a remarkable man and our community is better for his presence.
Charlie Thomsen. When Charlie Thomsen and his wife Roine first came to Winnipeg from their home in the U.S., they knew they had found their spiritual home. They never left. In- stead, Charlie took the position that was offered to him with the School
of Architecture at the University of Manitoba and began to build a home, a family and a sterling reputation. For many years, he has been involved with the International Peace Garden, in the planning committee in the early years, then as a member of the board and fi- nal and for the last three, as its chair- man. As luck would have it, he took on the position just in time to usher out an executive director and leaves just as the garden is about to replace its in- terim ED, and hire the next one. Char- lie has taken it all in stride with quiet confidence and an unruffled demeanor. There should be more Charlie Thom- sens in the world. America’s loss was our gain. Ernie Nairn. Long a local celebrity on CBC radio, Ernie Nairn has an in- defatigable energy that inspires every- one around him. After he finished his career at CBC, Ernie became the mar- keting director for the CBC Pensioners national association for Manitoba for the next 16 years. Still bubbling over with that energy, he next took on the responsibility of marketing for Assini- boia Downs for almost eight years. Not finished yet, he began running the As- siniboia Chamber of Commerce where he turned a sleepy little organization into one that made new things possible in West Winnipeg. Ernie was inducted into the CBC Hall of Fame in 2013. He continues to brighten the days of many as a volunteer broadcaster with CJNU Radio, Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. Hats off to an amazing Winnipegger.
u Thoughts for the new Manitoba Hydro board Continued from page 1
Graham Lane, and his cohort who form Manitoba Forward have been proposing
alternative courses for
years. I think it is time we listened, carefully and critically, asking ques- tions and having a real dialogue be- tween the people at Hydro, staff and board, and seeing if any of these solu- tions would work, or if some of them would, or if there are other creative ways to help resolve the problems. Here is what Graham Lane, PUB former chair has proposed: 1. Separate the stranded debt
from Hydro finances and shift it to the provincial ledger in the form of a long term liability, amortized over 30 years or so. This would spread the cost over a wider population than just the ratepayer reducing the indi-
vidual burden. If the rates accelerate by the amounts the former board proposed, the burden on some lower income people would be intolerable and we would have to subsidize them anyway. 2. Increase rates gradually. Gra- ham suggests at the rate of inflation – maybe there’s room for a point or two more.
3. Sell off Centra Gas – it used to be private, so why not? – to create some working capital. Hydro has not made a success of the utility’s management since they purchased it in 1999 any- way. Of course, it may be all that is keeping the wolf from the door. 4. Separate the generation and export transmission assets from the local distribution utility. (Granted,
Ontario Hydro did this and royally messed it up, but maybe we could learn from their mistakes.)
a. The export transmission would be sold off.
b. The local distribution system would become consumer-owned co- operatives. c. Partner with private sector op- erators to manage the local distribu- tion.
Another suggestion includes look-
ing carefully at the deal with Bechtel, the California company that is build- ing the line – it has, according to a source, a soft, cost-plus contract which implies there are no checks on the constant cost overruns. There are also rumours swirling about possible conflicts of interest in the manage-
ment of the professional engineering association that oversees the conduct of engineers and, by implication, en- gineering firms. Are there delays and cost overruns that could be avoided? The deal deserves scrutiny. Would this solve all the problems?
I am not in a position to judge, but it makes sense to me. Breaking down a losing proposition and dealing with the smaller parts separately is certain- ly one method of attacking a large problem. At the very least, these suggestions should be looked at seriously, not just brushed off. Will any of this happen? Only if the
board is strong and creative, coura- geous, consultative, and willing to try something different.
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