I sometimes feel bad for the Manitoba NDP party. After 16 years in power they have mangled almost every portfolio so badly that they have very little to brag about.
They want to be the party of health care, but after dumping hundreds of millions into the health system, wait times are the worst in Canada. They have worked hard to be the party of education by refusing to allow school closures and implementing minimum class sizes, but the performance of Manitoba students has steadily declined to the point where we are ranked lowest in the country. They want to be known for jobs and growth, but in the past year Manitoba lost more jobs as a percentage than any province east of New Brunswick with the exception of Alberta. They would like to be able to say that they are the party that best represents the poor and disadvantaged, but child poverty rates are the highest in Canada and their numerous child welfare failures are hard to ignore.
It must be terribly discouraging to be an NDP PR person, but I think they have finally found their niche — the one measurable achievement that they can legitimately brag about: Yurts!
Yes: Yurts. There is no denying that the NDP has succeeded on the all-important yurt file. I have created a pie chart to demonstrate:
It was 2005 that yurts first appeared in Manitoba provincial parks. We now have 53 of them and they are tremendously popular, so much so that the booking frenzy that occurs when yurt reservations open each spring rivals that of parents trying to get swimming lessons for their kids. If you’re not on your computer first thing in the morning you’re going to miss out, or have to settle for a location and weekend that you don’t want.
For me, there is nothing like pitching a tent in the back country, but “Comfort Camping” has its appeal too. If you’re not familiar with yurts, they are basically a round one-room cabin with canvas walls. They have furniture, electricity and heat. To call it camping at all is a bit of an insult to people who actually sleep on the ground, but that does not mean it’s not fun or worth doing. I have yurted several times with friends at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and it certainly is a very convenient way to enjoy our amazing parks, and it’s especially great for families.
If there is one yurt-related shortcoming of the NDP it is failing to keep up with demand. Almost no new yurts have been built since Gary Doer left office, but Greg Selinger’s newest promise to double the number of yurts will go a long way towards addressing that.
Can we trust Greg Selinger to follow through on the promise if he gets elected? It’s a fair question to ask given his track record in other areas, but it was certainly very astute of Selinger to put comfort camping on the election agenda as this is one area the NDP can actually brag about. Besides, what would Brian Pallister do? Privatize them or burn them all down? If yurts are your top priority, that’s a chance you just can’t take.
Today’s NDP: Strong on yurts. Maybe not so much on everything else.