In last year’s edition of the Manitoba Law Journal: Underneath the Golden Boy, Dr. Karine Levasseur argued that the veneer of political and economic stability was beginning to decay in Manitoba. In this edition, this theme is further explored and “Continued Instability in Manitoba: Deficits, Taxes, Elections and Resetting Government” argues that in the fallout of the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) increase in Fall 2013, Manitoba has endured more political and economic instability. The time frame for this analysis is June 2013 to July 2014.
Dr. Wayne Simpson examines the ideas behind balanced budget legislation, its effectiveness and its prospects for the future in "Balanced Budget Legislation for Manitoba: Principles and Prospects". The focus is Manitoba, which was both an early proponent and an innovator in balanced budget legislation, but the paper will also draw on important lessons from other provinces. The paper argues in section 2 that Manitoba has played a leading role in the development and fine tuning of this legislation over the last two decades.
In 2009, the Province of Manitoba introduced a poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy that was subsequently enhanced by the 2011 Poverty Reduction Strategy Act and the 2012 creation of a Workforce Development and Income Support Division. Manitoba’s Strategy for Sustainable Employment and a Stronger Labour Market is not a static program. It comprises a series of key actions to be undertaken through 2015 and beyond which attempt to reduce poverty, encourage employment and smooth the transition “from assistance to independence” (Government of Manitoba n.d.:6). The purpose of "Revitalizing Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion," written by Mr. Stephenson B. Strobel and Dr. Evelyn L. Forget, is to explore the potential of three different policies to achieve the poverty reduction and social inclusion goals articulated in this strategy – raising minimum wages, introducing a guaranteed annual income (GAI) and introducing an earned income tax credit (EITC) that builds on the very small working income tax benefit that already exists at the federal level in Canada.
Dr. Shauna MacKinnon examines labour market policy in "Making the Case for an Aboriginal Labour Market Intermediary: A Community Based Solution to Improve Labour Market Outcoems for Aboriginal People in Manitoba." Colonialism continues to have serious, long lasting and very damaging economic, social and cultural consequences. Generations of Aboriginal people have been traumatized by efforts to strip them of their identity and culture. In many cases, this has led to a complex form of poverty that is far more serious than simply a shortage of income. Government and business sectors are increasingly taking notice of the statistics highlighting the poor social and economic outcomes of Aboriginal people. This is in part because the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal workers has become widely recognized as critical to Canada’s economic future. In May 2013 Manitoba business leaders attending an event hosted by the Business Council of Manitoba identified the challenges facing Aboriginal people in Manitoba as a top priority. The business community is taking notice in part because it knows that the Aboriginal population is growing far more quickly than the non-Aboriginal population and it is understood that Aboriginal people will be a significant source of labour in Manitoba’s future.
In "Tagged and Turfless: Neo-Liberal Justice and Youth Crime in Winnipeg", Dr. Kathleen Buddle explores how the construct of “at-risk youth” is filtered through a number of discursive configurations: namely, through different methods for creating knowledge (anthropological, sociological and criminological); the types of expertise they give rise to and the practices of intervention they constitute. In it, Buddle argues that contemporary practices of calculating, managing and storing the disordered (i.e. youth who disrupt the orderly functioning of the market) have created some of the needs for and many of the limits on, critical protective factors that mitigate against gang involvement – namely, Aboriginal community-realizing initiatives. Moreover, the supplanting of non-profits’ collectivizing function by an auditing one comes at great human cost – one that cannot be borne in the absence of either corporate or university partnerships. The non-profit “market” is predicated on such collaborations.
Dr. Jane Ursel covers access to justice in "Is Justice Delayed, Justice Denied? Changing the Administration of the Winnipeg Family Violence Court". The well-known, frequently used aphorism in the title of this article implies that faster justice is better justice. This was a motivating factor in the introduction of a new administrative process for handling cases in the Winnipeg Family Violence Court (FVC). It seems like common sense that a reduction in the time it takes for a criminal matter to work its way through the courts would improve the exercise of justice (Bell et al. 2011). However, we seldom have the opportunity to examine the experience of justice personnel and the court system before and after changes in administration to measure whether this is actually the case. The introduction of the Front End Project (FEP), a new program forstreamlining cases in the Winnipeg FVC provided us with this opportunity. A longitudinal study of the FVC provided researchers with a valuable before and after data set. This quantitative data was supplemented with key informant interviews to explore the impact of this program on criminal justice personnel. Our study uses these two measures to examine whether the FEP shortened the time for justice to be served or improved the administration of justice in other ways. This paper suggests that while the results of the FEP are mixed, there are some positive developments that make this author optimistic about its future.
In "Revisiting Representativeness in the Manitoban Criminal Jury", Dr. Richard Jochelson, Dr. Michelle Bertrand, et. al. investigate how Canadian courts, and in particular, Manitoba courts have responded to jury representation problems raised in the 1991 report. We also review Ontario cases such as the Iacobucci Report (Ontario 2013) which indicated that the issue of Indigenous representativeness on juries is a significant challenge in Ontario. Given that case law supports the conception of the jury as the conscience of the community, we also endeavour to identify perceptions of representativeness of a population of students who participated in our survey. We examine how Manitoba law and policy (and related) communities reacted to the problematic findings regarding juries in 1991. We then study a Manitoban student sample’s conceptions of jury representativeness using an empirical approach. We examine how participants perceived the make-up of a representative jury, and whether demographic variables affect perceptions of representativeness.
Dr. Joan Grace examines infrastructure policy in "Building from the Ground Up: Funding the Infrastructure Deficit in Manitoba." In the built environment, municipalities are remarkably under-resourced; a situation familiar to taxpaying citizens frustrated with having to drive around potholes or navigate chipped concrete on sidewalks. While targeted initiatives have been crucial to shoring-up local resources for municipal projects, Grace argues that the capacity gaps in financial arrangements and intergovernmental institutional linkages between the levels of government have contributed to the infrastructure deficit in Manitoba. While shared-cost programs have made a dramatic difference in Manitoba, Grace suggests that a strategic policy response through strengthened provincial-municipal relations could work toward addressing gaps in capacity within the infrastructure policy system. To make this argument, the analysis begins with discussing capacity issues to explain why infrastructure needs are particularly acute in Manitoba. These arguments further support my contention for the development of a comprehensive intergovernmental capacity-building strategy.
In "Support and Inclusion for All Manitobans: Steps Toward a Basic Income Scheme", Dr. Sid Frankel and Dr. James P. Mulvale propose and describe an evolutionary approach to development of a basic income by the Government of Manitoba in order to decrease economic disadvantage and inequality in the province. They demonstrate below that a new approach is required because poverty reduction under Manitoba’s All Aboard poverty reduction strategy has lagged behind the rest of Canada, and because the level of inequality has remained stable for more than a decade.
To download a copy of the Manitoba Law Journal: Underneath the Golden Boy please click here.
Dr. Karine Levasseur's piece entitled “The Growing Instability in Manitoba: the Selinger Majority, Budgetary Reductions and Increasing Taxes” succinctly summarizes past and current trends in provincial government spending and fiscal policy. Included in this year's policy section is an appendix which summarizes policy facts and trends in Manitoba.
Donna J. Miller Q.C. contributed to this year's edition with an article written on the justice system entitled: “Enhancing Access to Justice: Some Recent Progress in Manitoba”. In it, Miller identifies and discusses a number of recent programs being implemented to address issues surrounding the growing inaccessibility of the justice system in Manitoba. Current and comprehensive, this article is a great read for those looking to find out more about access to justice initiatives in the province.
An examination of Post-Secondary Education in Manitoba was written by Dr. Andrea Rounce. Her piece entitled “Investing in Manitoba's Future: Post-secondary Education between 1999-2013”, evaluates the financial pressures facing Manitoba's post-secondary system and the challenges that have come out of shifting financial realities in the province. The article describes the link between public policy, spending on post-secondary education, and the priorities of the provincial and federal governments.
The final article to be found in this year's public policy section comes from Dr. Sid Frankel with an article titled: “Poverty Reduction in Manitoba Under Neoliberalism: is the Third Way an Effective Way”. His piece evaluates the NDP Government's Poverty Reduction Strategy, All Aboard and posits that: the strategy is best understood in the context of neoliberal ideology, the strategy is not sufficiently articulated for implementation, and in its current state, it does not seem likely to address issues of poverty in the province. Dr. Frankel's piece is insightful and well-researched; it is an excellent read for anyone interested in social welfare issues.
To download a copy of the Manitoba Law Journal: Underneath the Golden Boy please click here.