Political game playing has always been a blood sport, but this year in Brandon and across the province, the game took on a much sharper edge. For Part 2 of our 2012 Quotes of the Year, here are a few of the most memorable lines.
• “We deserved to get whooped. We told people it was time for a change. We never told them what it was. The people of this province have to be asked what kinds of changes they are interested in seeing a political party pursue. They have to be consulted.”— Then-Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate Brian Pallister, on the Tory’s loss to the NDP in the 2011 provincial election, during a conversation with the Sun’s editorial board.
• “It’s our big stab at economic development with a corporation of that size.” — Birdtail Chief Ken Chalmers, after the Canadian National Railway agreed to construct a new multimillion-dollar rail spur on reserve land.
• “If they handcuff us and beat us, then they can do that, but under what rights are they doing that?”— Canupawakpa Dakota Nation Chief Frank Brown, after learning that Manitoba’s attorney general was preparing to ask the Court of Queen’s Bench for permission to take possession of the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop.
• “This is such a black eye for Brandon.”— International Association of Fire Fighters Canadian trustee Alex Forrest, after the City of Brandon suspended local union president Wade Ritchie for five days and demoted him from lieutenant to rank-and-file firefighter.
• “Then we got a phone call that Waywayseecappo, Keeseekoowenin and Rolling River (bands) were going to talk to AMC about putting a casino on their land at the corner of (highways) 1 and 10 in the RM of Elton. This would give Brandon all of the negative consequences of gaming and none of the positives and that would not be in the best interests of the city.”— Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, after the city announced a partnership with the Tribal Councils Investment Group to explore the financial case for a casino development in Brandon.
• “They just don’t seem to understand what ‘No’ is.”— Pastor John Reaves, who publicly opposed any casino development in Brandon during the 2008 plebiscite.
• “I’ve never heard of a deal anywhere else in this country that would be made with such huge management fees. They’re making a killing … (The AMC) must have been desperate to get this casino done.”— Birdtail Dakota Chief Ken Chalmers, after reading through the Spirit Sands management agreement the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs signed with Hemisphere Gaming Inc.
• “This was always pitched as a catch-up budget, that we needed to address outstanding obligations in terms of payroll, some of the ongoing projects that have been delayed in order to make prior years tax cuts more palatable. We needed to get to a better spot going forward. This was never intended to be ongoing where every year we would be dealing with increases like this.”— Shari Decter Hirst, after council decided to debate whether to cut the proposed operating budget during a special meeting on Feb. 7.
• “We won. We got 1,050 people together and won. We got them to stop. If (Mayor Shari Decter Hirst) thought this could have gone through, she would have pushed it through on Friday night. The fact that they stopped this tells me we won, for now.”— Brandonite Kerry Auriat, after he closed an online petition demanding Brandon City Council revise its proposed $76.7-million operating budget.
• “We’re not surprised at all because it has been very constant. Even in 2009, it was almost 94 per cent.”— City of Brandon director of finance Val Rochelle, on the news that 92.6 per cent of city residents had paid their property taxes on time, in spite of a large hike in taxes and a provincial reassessment.
• “The proposal at this time does not meet the requirements, therefore funding has been denied. They are fairly clear in their denial letter that the fundraising and business plans were very optimistic and didn’t demonstrate the organization has the capacity to manage the project. It’s very blunt.”— Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed, after the Brandon Folk, Music and Art Society’s application for federal funding was rejected by the Department of Canadian Heritage.
• “No. I’m not benefiting in any way, financially, nor is my spouse. This is merely another episode in the continuing series of ‘The mayor is a poopy-head.’”— Mayor Shari Decter Hirst in answer to allegations that as head of the council and as a board member for Renaissance Brandon — which doles out funds provided by the City of Brandon to various downtown projects — she did not remove herself from meetings that involved the Strand Project.
• “We didn’t feel there was anything there that required us to move forward.” — Deputy mayor Murray Blight, after city councillors decided not to seek a Court of Queen’s Bench probe over allegations of conflict of interest against Mayor Shari Decter Hirst.
• “I don’t want Brandon to look like we’re part of ‘Honey Boo Boo.’ I don’t think that’s how I would want Brandon to be perceived on a national scale.”— Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, responding to news that a Vancouver-based production company was considering shooting a reality-show documentary on taxation in the Wheat City.
• “Stephen, if you ever show disregard with that microphone on again, I will slap you on the back of the head so hard your head will spin.” — Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, uttering a threat toward Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) at the end of a regular council meeting, because she believed he disregarded directives from the chair.
• “We’ve talked (through email) and we will be continuing to talk. I hope that we are working towards a resolution. I am going into any further discussion with optimism that while we may not end up being best friends, at least we will maintain a respectful work relationship.”— Coun. Stephen Montague, during an interview with the Sun, following Decter Hirst’s outburst.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 29, 2012