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Provincial power lists show just where Brandon ranks

The turning of the calendar from one year to the next — like an orbital odometer — is a natural time for holiday-weary pundits to fill time and space with year-end lists and year-to-come prognostications.

I've done my share, and although they always seem like a great way to easily create some content, they take a heck of a lot of effort. They're probably more trouble than they are worth, especially since you just end up picking fights with readers who like to play backseat list-maker.

And, once you've seen how the sausage is made (a heaping helping of arbitrary) you never again feel like they are truly that important.

To be honest, any Top-Whatever-of-Whatever list probably reveals more about the list-maker than it purports to say about whatever they are ranking.

That goes double for lists that try to quantify an unquantifiable like "power" or "interestingness".

In that vein, I took a look at a couple of recent lists from our provincial capital. It was an excellent lesson in exactly how much influence Brandon has in this province. 

Perimeteritis is alive and well, you will see.

The Winnipeg Free Press released their 'Power 30' list on Saturday. It is dominated by the business and political types that lately do dominate these types of lists (they do manage to include an actor and a poet in the bottom two spots of the 'also rans').

Let me just quickly point out that there is more — a lot more — to life than business and politics. The fact that so many people automatically give so much deference to those areas gives me pause. What a soulless society we're in.

On the Free Press' list, they mention Brandon precisely twice, and once is just to note that Winnipeg mega-developer Sandy Shindleman also has his tentacles extended out here.

The other mention is in Jennifer Howard's bio. Howard, who placed an eye-popping fifth in the Freep's listings, was born and raised in Brandon. I briefly crossed paths with her while we were both at Brandon University, where she was the students' union president in my first or second year.

But she's a Winnipeg woman now, where she's lived for more than 15 years. She's an MLA for Fort Rouge, which is quite literally the centre of Winnipeg — just across the river from the Legislature itself.

Although the Free Press crows about her influence and power in the current NDP government, there is zero evidence that she is bringing any kind of Brandon perspective to the table.

Somehow, even with those two throwaway Brandon connections, the Free Press manages to outdo the other big list of Manitobans.

That would be radio DJ (and, from what I understand, pervasive public figure) Ace Burpee.

Burpee (who actually slides into the Free Press' list at the No. 30 slot himself) annually tackles a list of the 100 'most fascinating' Manitobans.

Despite having more than three times as much room as the writers at the Free Press — room enough to put a Winnipeg DOG at the No. 60 slot — Burpee doesn't register a single Brandon mention.

I don't raise these points to denigrate or to scoff at these lists.

It's hard to find too much fault with any individual entry on either of those lists. The people picked by the Free Press really do wield a lot of influence and a lot of power in the province.

The people (and canine) picked by Burpee really do sound like interesting folks, and although I personally didn't find that they all made it to the level of "fascinating" that's completely up to hiim to decide.

What both these lists do illustrate, however, is the disproportionately tiny role that Brandon, or wider Westman, plays in Manitoba. Frankly, they could each be renamed "…of Winnipeg" without changing much of anything.

Manitoba is in an unusual spot. Unlike most other provinces, where there are at least two counterweight cities (often one an economic powerhouse, the other a political powerhouse — think Vancouver/Victoria, Calgary/Edmonton, Regina/Saskatoon) Manitoba is completely dominated by its One Great City.

That means our movers and shakers (Hey boss, you going to revive your list this year?) have to move and/or shake a lot more to get noticed.

It's unfortunate, because I think the rest of the province gets underserved as well by the very insular nature of the provincial capital.

Let me suggest to both the Winnipeg Free Press and Ace Burpee that they start thinking about their 2014 lists right now. Maybe a Top 10 non-Winnipeggers list would be an interesting mental exercise.

(PS. If either of them actually do this, that would be excellent evidence for my own inclusion.)

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