Year in Review: Manitoba headlines in 2013
Jan. 29 – Hudson the polar bear arrives at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The 15-month-old bear’s January arrival kicked off a banner year for the Winnipeg zoo. Three young wild polar bears from Churchill joined Hudson after they were orphaned or became problem bears in Churchill. Much of the work on what will be the zoo’s main attraction, the Journey to Churchill exhibit, was completed ahead of a 2014 opening. A new Australian walkabout exhibit opened and major funding for a large cats exhibit was obtained. Penguins visited. Snow leopards were born in June. And while the zoo lost well-known and popular director Tim Sinclair-Smith, who moved back to his native Australia, it hired another popular director to replace him, veterinarian Dr. Brian Joseph.
Feb. 10 – The pilot, two of his sons and a boy who was a family friend die after a small private plane crashed near Waskada in southwestern Manitoba.
Feb. 15 – The Manitoba Court of Appeal increases the prison sentence of former junior hockey coach Graham James to five years from two after his 2012 conviction for sexually abusing National Hockey League star Theo Fleury and his younger cousin.
March 8 – The Métis win a landmark case as the Supreme Court of Canada rules the federal government failed to live up to its constitutional obligations in handing out land to children of the Manitoba Métis in the 1870s. It opens the door for the Métis to negotiate a claim to vast tracts of land in the province, including all of present-day Winnipeg.
April 16 – The Manitoba government tables a budget in the Manitoba legislature that will increase the provincial sales tax one point to eight per cent. The Greg Selinger NDP government has taken a political beating over the issue, but the sales tax went into effect July 1, months before it was approved by the legislature on Dec. 5 following a lengthy filibuster by the Conservative Opposition.
May 10 – An ice shove destroys homes at Ochre River, Man.
May 15 – A grass fire threatens 20 homes on Fraser Road.
June – Child and Family Services workers seize dozens of children from a rural Manitoba Old Order Mennonite community amid allegations of abuse. Some of the children were later returned to their parents.
June 26 – A Quebec man is killed when a tree falls on his tent at Falcon Beach during a night of storms that also flooded Reston, Man., a second time. The Regional Municipality of Pipestone, which includes Reston, declares a state of emergency and closes roads. There are major power outages in Brandon, Virden, Reston and Winnipeg, and a lightning strike damages a home in Winnipeg.
July 8 – Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announces his resignation as MP for the Manitoba riding of Provencher to pursue opportunities in the private sector.
July 13 – A suspected tornado hits Pipestone, Man., badly damaging the community centre, overturning mobile homes and camper trailers, downing trees and destroying crops.
July 24 – A two-year-old girl and three-month-old baby boy are pronounced dead in hospital after being found in critical condition at their Winnipeg home. The body of the children’s mother, 32-year-old Lisa Gibson, was pulled from the Red River four days later. It was later learned that she had sought treatment for postpartum depression. Manitoba’s chief medical examiner has asked the College of Physicians and Surgeons to examine her care.
Nov. 4 – The Canadian Museum for Human Rights announces it will open on Sept. 20, 2014. The trouble-plagued, over-budget museum, first announced in 2003, has experienced setbacks such as having extra funding refused and controversy over exhibits, with Ukrainians and First Nations among those who have stated they feel the exhibits aren’t giving proper weight to some atrocities.
Nov. 14 – Shawn Lamb pleads guilty to manslaughter for the killings of Lorna Blacksmith, 18, and Caroline Sinclair, 25. A charge of second-degree murder for the slaying of Tanya Nepinak, whose body has never been found, was stayed the following week.
Nov. 25 – In four federal byelections, the Conservatives hold on to two longtime Tory bastions in Manitoba, while the Liberals retained two traditional strongholds in Toronto and Montreal. The Liberals increased their share of the vote in all four ridings.
Dec. 4 – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers name Mike O’Shea the new head coach of a floundering franchise. Coach Tim Burke was fired after a miserable 3-15 season, worst in the CFL. Burke wasn’t the only casualty — Garth Buchko was fired during the season and Wade Miller was named the new CEO and president, and Kyle Walters was named general manager after Joe Mack was fired. Meanwhile, fans left seats empty at the new Investors Group Field, which had its own troubles, including problems with traffic and parking.
Dec. 17 – A troubled year at Winnipeg City Hall is capped off with the passage of the 2014 budget that includes a 2.95 per cent property tax hike for homeowners. City politics in 2013 were marked by high-profile resignations amid scandal surrounding top administrators and the mayor.
The first high-profile departure was that of entomologist Taz Stuart, a well-known figure in a city plagued by mosquitos. The reasons for his departure are still not known. The next to go was Reid Douglas, the fire-paramedic chief, who was dismissed before the release of an audit into a controversial fire-paramedic station replacement program. Chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl, who fired Douglas, then stepped down just before the release of a damning audit, which criticized his handling of the over-budget project that saw a station built on land owned by a private developer, among other problems.
Shortly after the audit was released, it was revealed that a project to replace the downtown police headquarters by overhauling the former Canada Post headquarters, was also badly overbudget to the tune of $17.2 million. Meanwhile, residents across the city had to deal with brown water coming from taps, which prompted a boil-water advisory in St. Vital in October.
In all, it added up to a very bad year for Mayor Sam Katz, a personal friend of Sheegl, who suffered defections from Executive Police Committee, his mayoral cabinet, as people started to jostle for position ahead of the October 2014 municipal election. Passage of the budget was one of the rare good-news stories for Katz in 2013.
© 2013 Shaw Media