Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/3/2012 (3410 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
“For Winnipeggers, it’s fantastic to have the WHL playoffs at the MTS Centre, but for Brandon, where the home team is based, it would be nice to have some games here too. My view is I hope there is some way the WHL can accommodate the fact that the Brandon Wheat Kings are always going to have a good team and the chances of them making the playoffs are quite good.”
— Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger
Either Premier Selinger is suffering from a nasty case of Perimeteritis or he’s having another bout with foot-in-mouth disease. Possibly both.
And yet his little excursion outside Winnipeg city limits during Brandon’s Royal Manitoba Winter Fair week has not provided a cure to either ailment.
As the Sun reports today, Premier Selinger has given short shrift to the idea of moving the province’s spring break up a week or two to help solve an ongoing scheduling problem between the Winter Fair and the Brandon Wheat Kings’ WHL playoff schedule.
We always understood that convincing the provincial government to at least look at the possibility of changing the province’s spring break period was a long shot at best. After all, the creation of a new February provincial holiday that started out as part of a Winnipeg radio show’s joke campaign is surely a more important consideration than trying to accommodate some hockey fans and fair folks in Manitoba’s second city.
But for Mr. Selinger to say that he understands the financial and scheduling challenges faced by the Winter Fair and the Brandon Wheat Kings — not to mention loss of playoff cash for the Keystone Centre — is simply laughable.
Because if he did have a firm grasp of the problems faced by these organizations, he would not have made light of the situation by uttering the above quotation.
The good folks at the Winter Fair should not assume we blame them for any part of this ongoing scheduling conflict. It’s not like they can start clamoring for change and risk annoying the provincial government and its purse strings.
However, as Brandon Sun sports editor James Shewaga noted in a column Thursday, the fact that the Wheat Kings are put at a financial and competitive disadvantage without home ice is an ongoing problem, one that also strips the cash-strapped Keystone Centre of three profit-producing playoff games.
That’s a lot of missed cash that shouldn’t have to go to Winnipeg from the Wheat Kings’ pocket, for the benefit of a few WHL hockey fans who live in Manitoba’s capital.
At the same time, the premier suggested that he was reluctant to make any change to the spring break schedule as it might annoy families who have often booked vacations years in advance around the now traditional week — the last week of March to the first week of April.
Seriously? When the province could easily mandate that spring break will be moved up by a few weeks in two or three years’ time, how is that a valid concern?
As Brandon West Progressive Conservative MLA Reg Helwer observed, Manitoba has one of the latest spring breaks in North America and it “wouldn’t be out of line to move it earlier in the year.”
Mr. Selinger, we weren’t asking for the world. Spring break falls upon an arbitrary date set by the provincial government, and if you wanted to, you have the power to make that change.
At the very least, you could have promised to broach the subject with the Wheat Kings owners, the Keystone Centre board and the Winter Fair administration to see if something could be worked out.
As it stands, your comments simply give more ammunition to critics who say you and your government are out of touch with the concerns of Manitobans living outside the Perimeter.