Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Free Press picks its Cabinet

On Saturday, August 28th, Manitoba’s paper of record picked its Cabinet.

Sadly, it’s never been entirely clear how the Free Press decides who’s in and who’s out of their “Power 30”. And yet they simply won’t admit their list is almost entirely intended to flatter individuals they feel are good for their business.

Which is why, when picking their Cabinet, the Free Press isn’t required to represent, for example, all regions of Manitoba. Gender balance? Ha! In the Free Press’ inaugural listing in 2005, they identified only three powerful women (Cheryl Barker, Annita Stenning and Emoke Szathmary).

Just three, eh? There were over 1.1 million people in Manitoba in 2005, about half of whom were women. And while the 2010 listing profiles more women compared to 2005, the Free Press shamefully, and deliberately, continues to fill its Cabinet predominately with white men.

Consider, for example, their decision to include Premier Greg Selinger, Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen, and Sam Katz, but not include Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Apparently, wanting to be Premier can make you powerful, but wanting to be mayor does not.

Sure, McFadyen’s elected and Judy isn’t. This argument would make sense except that in 2005 the Free Press felt justified in excluding all “elected” provincial Conservatives thus making one’s elected status irrelevant to whether or not you have power. Bottom line: it’s within the capacity of the Free Press to identify more women. They simply choose not to. Or maybe they think it’s not good for business.

Consider, as well, in the 2006 ranking, Dan Lett suggested that the “Premier” is destined to be number one. But in 2010, the Premier comes in at number four. In 2006, Lett wasn’t arguing that “Premier Doer” was destined to be number one. Rather, he argued that whoever occupies the position of “Premier” is, by the very nature of the position itself, the most powerful.

If Dan was right in 2006, what happened in 2010?

The Free Press, in a less than transparent way, felt naming Mark Chipman to lead their 2010 Cabinet was better for business than continuing to recognize that being Premier, regardless of who holds the position, brings with it great power and great responsibility. Mark Chipman can do a lot of things. But Mark Chipman can’t pass a law. Mark Chipman doesn’t control a $~12 billion budget. Mark Chipman can’t appoint a judge.

Interestingly, while McFadyen squeaked in at number 27, one of his “young Turks”, Mr. Sandy Riley, is on the outs. Hey Free Press… do you realize you’ve released one of McFadyen’s close advisors and friends? If we read the goat innards on this one, it appears the Free Press isn’t buying too heavily into McFadyen’s stock. And for good reason!

By the way – remember in 2006 when Ryan Craig was named the 23rd most powerful person in Manitoba? He came in just behind Tanis Mindell, a top-notch bureaucrat who continues to lead Manitoba’s most powerful Cabinet committee – Treasury Board. Good call on your picks that year, Free Press. We can’t imagine the business Ryan Craig generated for you!