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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Santa Selinger's a very big spender

An ad in Thursday's Winnipeg Free Press shows members of the NDP caucus and letters to Santa.

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An ad in Thursday's Winnipeg Free Press shows members of the NDP caucus and letters to Santa.

Dear Santa Selinger,

Sometimes you make writing this weekly column so easy and so much fun.

You know, often I’ll get asked by readers (OK, my mother, but she’s a reader): "Gee, James — where do you get the ideas for your Notebook each week?"

Well, sometimes it’s as easy as reading a few newspapers.

And this week, I came across a full-page advertisement in a Winnipeg newspaper that was entitled "Letters to Santa" and was sponsored by "Your members of the Legislative Assembly."

I knew right off that the holiday greetings would be coming from the NDP, as the party’s colours were flying. And then, looking at all the smiling mugshots of the MLAs — topped by Premier Greg (Santa) Selinger it became quickly apparent it was the NDP caucus.

Well, most of it.

Of the 36 members (they elected 37, but Transcona’s Daryl Reid is house Speaker), only 26 made the cut in the ad. Most of the Winnipeg members were featured — along with all of the so-called Southern Belles who are crucial to the party retaining power — and several rural members.

But again, the only NDP MLA in the entire Westman region — Brandon East’s Drew Caldwell — wasn’t chosen.

While this isn’t as bad as being repeatedly passed over for a cabinet spot, it’s pretty sad when the long-serving member of the party executive can’t even make it into a cheesy caucus ad.

Santa Selinger — why are you so mean to Drew? Did you check your list? Was he naughty, not nice?

Or is it that you just don’t like the way we vote out here? We love our Tories.

And do you know why?

Well, for one thing, they don’t act like Santa as you and your party does.

I found the visual of the band of merry Dippers surrounding a dozen or so letters to Santa from kids asking for presents to be so apropos.

Teach the future voters early on that the NDP loves giving away presents — such as the province’s future, which is now mired in debt and deficit.

Just this week — in what we imagine Santa Selinger was hoping would be an announcement lost in the business of the season — we learned that the NDP government now expects the 2012-13 deficit to reach $567 million.

That, children is an increase of $107 million over the $460 million projected in April.

Santa Selinger and his bean-counting elf from Dauphin, Finance Minister Stan Struthers, are trying to blame the spending on child protection, forest fire suppression and public safety, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

But it’s hard to accept that as an excuse when government revenues are coming in higher than expected.

It’s just so hard for a party with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads to make the tough decisions to get the economy on the right track.

It’s so bad, boys and girls, that Santa Selinger had to break his promise to start running budget surpluses in 2014-15. Now it might get around to that miserly move in 2016-17.

Opposition Leader Brian (The Grinch) Pallister takes all the fun out of things when he warns of more tax increases and future generations left carrying a heavy debt burden.

That’s not in the Christmas spirit.

Nope, let’s all think like Santa Selinger and hope that all children in the ad get what they ask for in their letters this Christmas — Lego trains, a swimming Dora doll, a remote control airplane — even if it puts their mommies and daddies in extreme personal debt.

It’s what Santa Selinger and his Orange Elves are doing to the province.

Ho, ho, ho!

•••

Across Canada, weight, spending and debt are the main holiday worries for Canadians.

In a new Angus Reid Public Opinion online survey of a representative national sample of 1,000 Canadian adults, 44 per cent of respondents say they are "very concerned" or "moderately concerned" about gaining weight over the holidays.

A similar proportion of Canadians (43 per cent) is worried about spending too much money on decorations, gifts and food (43 per cent), while just over one-third (36 per cent) are preoccupied with carrying too much debt on credit cards.

Other minor concerns are:

• Having to travel during the holiday season (23 per cent).

• Running into relatives they don’t want to see (15 per cent).

• Drinking too much alcohol over the holidays (11 per cent).

• Attending office holiday parties (10 per cent).

When asked how they have paid for their holiday expenses, Canadians outlined that 40 per cent of their purchases have been made with a credit card, while 30 per cent have been paid for in cash and 29 per cent using a debit card.

Now I’m not a fan of Christmas. But I can identify with those leading concerns of Canadians.

Even if I don’t have a lot of presents to buy this year, somehow I’m finding ways to spend money. And as for the weight gain, I’ve made the mistake of vowing to return to the gym in the new year.

Yes, after being away from the hamster wheel for far too long, I’ll be one of those dreaded New Year’s Resolutionists who crowd into gyms each January.

However, I don’t plan to drop out before the Ides of March as many do.

•••

And after a long absence, I’m going to dole out a Whack of Schwag.

Just in time for stocking stuffers, I’ll offer a box of assorted goodies — books, CDs for review — that have landed in the newsroom, along with a few Brandon Sun promotional items.

Just have an email in my inbox as close to 9 a.m. Monday as you can and you’ll win.

It’s just that simple. However, if the winner wants the box that day, they’ll have to be able to pick it up before noon when our office closes for Christmas. We’re open again Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

’Tis the season. Have a good one.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 22, 2012

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Dear Santa Selinger,

Sometimes you make writing this weekly column so easy and so much fun.

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Dear Santa Selinger,

Sometimes you make writing this weekly column so easy and so much fun.

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