Ron Hedley announced his plans to retire earlier this week.

President of the Fusion board, Guy Huberdeau, says the board was a little shocked, even though they knew he’d be leaving in a year or so.

“We were always hoping he’d stay on and meet his 3 year contract he had signed. But, it wasn’t in the plans for him so that’s fine, but he kind of hinted to us over the last little while that he might be going sooner rather than later. It wasn’t a total surprise but it was still a shock.”

The hunt for his replacement will begin in the new year.

Huberdeau says if they could find a photo copy of Ron that’s the type of person they’d like.

“If you’re looking at all the qualities you want in a CEO, I think Ron pretty well checked off all those boxes. Basically, I think that’s the type of person we’d like to get if there’s one out there.”

Huberdeau says Hedley leaves some big shoes to fill, and the best part about him has been his people skills.

“Ron was really well liked by the whole staff, the board, the members. He was really fun to be around, so that’s going to be the biggest part of what he brought to the table that’s going to be hard to replace.”

Huberdeau isn’t worried about Hedley’s retirement, saying he leaves the company in a good spot with a solid foundation.

A recent survey done by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce shows that job creation and retention are the biggest concerns for businesses in the province.

In the 2019 Manitoba Business Outlook Survey, only a quarter of businesses said that they are likely to take on a new hire next year.

While that may be the trend in the province, Stephen Chychota, Executive Director of the Dauphin and District Chamber of Commerce, says that the picture in the area is a little better.

“We’ve got our own survey out right now, and some of our businesses are seeing that they’d want to hire someone new in the next 12 months,” said Chychota. “So there’s some optimism there that they’re either expanding or have opportunities available for some people.”

While it isn’t clear how many businesses in the area filled out the provincial survey, Chychota is hoping that some did because he says that surveys are important to help gauge where a business is at.

“They’re super important, they help gauge what the Manitoba Chamber, provincially is going to go after. They’re going to have a good sense as to what businesses are looking for and what their areas of needs are,” said Chychota. ‘The surveys also help to know what businesses are excelling at, and then the Manitoba Chamber knows exactly where to put the focus on.”

The concerns over job creation and retention are nothing new, and Chychota says it all starts with education.

“The MCC has been doing a lot of work trying to make sure that colleges are equipping their students with the right skills, and the right courses, and trying to make a better-skilled worker coming out of school,” explained Chychota. “There is an opportunity to be had at a provincial level to help with education because it’s growing those workers from the start to when they go into the job market.”

Chychota went on to say that the fact that Manitoba ranks lowest in math and science test scores, and second-last in reading skills in the country, does not help employability in the workforce and that the best way to look at those results is to realize that Manitoba has nowhere to go but up.

The 2019 Manitoba Business Outlook Survey results are available online for anyone wanting to take a look, and the Dauphin Chamber’s survey can be found on their Facebook page.

Andrew Scheer announced to his caucus on Thursday that he will resign as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Scheer will stay on as leader until his replacement is chosen, which could wait until the party’s convention in April.

The resignation comes shortly after it was found out he had been using Conservative Party money to put his kids through private school.

Senior Conservatives say that was done without the knowledge or approval of the fund board and chair.

He has also been facing pressure from the party following his loss in the federal election.

Scheer has been the leader since May 27th, 2017.

The Government of Manitoba has named 5 people who have been appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund Committee.

Three of the members are new, and two are returning. One of the new members is former MP Robert Sopuck, who been named the Committee Chair.

Sopuck, who served two terms as a Member of Parliament for the Dauphin-Swan River- Neepawa riding, is excited about his new role.

“I am very, very pleased. I’m an avid hunter and angler myself, but I’m an official wildlife biologist,” said Sopuck. “For me, this is a perfect fit. I have also spent time in senior levels of government, and also of course as an elected official. In all those capacities, fish and wildlife management and conservation was a very strong component, so I feel very much at home here. I’m very grateful to the Manitoba government for this opportunity.

A portion of every hunting and fishing licence sold in Manitoba goes into the Enhancement Fund, and the Committee is responsible for deciding where the money should be allocated.

Sopuck said that he is satisfied with the direction of the projects already planned by the committee but, on top of measurable benefits for fish and wildlife populations, he wants to keep the sportsman in mind.

“There have been many terrific projects done to date, but I want to make sure that the central role of hunting and angling in Manitoba, is very much front and centre in all of the projects,” said Sopuck

Sopuck was not the only member of the Parkland appointed to the committee. Swan River’s Todd Yakielashek and Dauphin’s Jim MacMillan were named to the Fish Enhancement Subcommittee. Aaron Goethe from Swan River joins Barry Sadlowski from St. Andrews on the Wildlife Enhancement Subcommittee.

Sopuck says the fact that a majority of the committee being from the Parkland shows how strong conservation groups are in the region.

“I think those of us living in the Parkland should be very proud of the private conservation organizations that we have here,” said Sopuck. “As I look across Manitoba, between Intermountain Sport and Fish and Swan Valley Sport and Fish, I think those are models that need to be replicated right across Manitoba. The Parkland is home to many of our fantastic, aerated trout lakes that are drawing anglers from all over the world.”

Sopuck went on to say that when it comes to conservation in Manitoba, hunters and anglers have no competition.

Earlier this week, Fusion Credit Union CEO, Ron Hedley announced that he’ll be retiring on June 1st, 2020.

Over his career of more than 40 years, Hedley has achieved a lot. He has overseen two significant amalgamations, Dauphin Plains, Ethelbert, and Roblin credit unions into Catalyst Credit Union in 2013, and the Catalyst and Vanguard credit unions merger into Fusion in 2018.

In the less than two years of Fusion, Hedley has brought the credit unions some big awards, most recently the recognition of being one of Manitoba’s top 100 places to work, and before that, receiving a national marketing award.

Throughout the years, Hedley has done things for the community. In 2005 he established the student-run Clipper Credit Union at the DRCSS, in 2006 Hedley crafted a long-term naming rights agreement for Credit Union Place in Dauphin, spearheaded a conference titled A New Journey: Connecting Aboriginal and Credit Union Communities in 2007, and most recently in 2019, he introduced the Full Circle Fund to support community groups and projects.

Hedley also leaves behind a legacy of initiatives promoting sustainability. Those initiatives include special loans for solar panel projects, providing critical support for the construction and promotion of Dauphin’s first ‘net zero’ home, incorporating sustainability into the credit union’s corporate strategic plan, the purchase of a hybrid car for use in the community, and supporting and encouraging thousands of ‘acts of green’ performed by employees every year.

Hedley’s career with credit unions started in 1976 when he started working at Rossburn Credit Union, he became General Manager of Strathclair Credit Union in 1990, moved to Dauphin Plains in 2000, was named CEO of Catalyst Credit Union in 2013, and stepped into his current role as CEO of Fusion Credit Union in 2018.

The search for his successor will begin in the new year.

The Edwards Creek Bridge in the RM of Dauphin is getting replaced.

The anticipated date of the PTH 20 closure is Monday, December 16th, 2019.

The estimated re-opening is September 2020.

If this is a road you use, the RM of Dauphin posted a detour route here.

It’s been a deadly year on Manitoba roads, according to new numbers from MPI.

The report shows the number of fatal collisions in the province in 2019 has surpassed the total from 2018.

As of December 7th, 73 people have been killed in crashes this year, compared to 71 last year.

At least 15 deaths this year were caused by impaired drivers. That number is down from the 30 impaired driving fatalities last year.

Other common factors in the deaths were speed, and not wearing seatbelts, resulting in 16 deaths each.

MPI added that the numbers are not final, as the year isn’t over. The final numbers will be released in the New Year.

Adopt a Family is a program to help take some weight off of the food bank and Angel Tree hampers.

The Catholic Women’s League at St. Viator’s Church puts on the program.

When you sign up, you receive a grocery list and are told the ages of any children in the family to buy food and Christmas presents for.

The grocery list includes stuffing (stovetop etc), cranberry sauce, can vegetable (peas, corn, beans etc), canned fruit, Kraft Dinner or other pasta, canned meat (Klic, Spam, tuna, flakes of ham etc.), soups, cookies, juice, tea bags, coffee, cereal, cake mix, sugar, crackers, margarine, jelly powder/pudding powders, Christmas candy, spreads (jam, peanut butter etc.).

Monday is the last day to adopt a family and buy groceries and gifts.

If you’d like to adopt a family, call Laverne Hudson at 204-638-6013.

The re-elected Liberal government laid out its plan for the country during its next mandate in last week’s throne speech.

The speech explained how the minority government will tackle issues like combating climate change, strengthening the middle class, reconciliation, crime, and healthcare.

First time MP for Dauphin-Swan River- Neepawa, Dan Mazier, said that he is disappointed that the throne speech didn’t lay out plans on how to boost agriculture or support the rural way of life.

“There were many things that were missing in the throne speech, they didn’t mention rural Canada at all, and that was just the beginning of it,” said Mazier. “Out of all of what they had to say, they really didn’t say anything about our riding.”

Other things that Mazier was disappointed about were the omission of rural internet and cell phone connectivity, and the buy-back program for firearms that was mentioned.

“They talked about lowering cell phone prices, but what good does that do to areas that don’t have any cell service?” said Mazier. “The only part of the speech that will have any impact on my constituents, other than increasing taxes and making life less affordable, was their plans to take away firearms.”

Mazier pointed out that hunting and sport-shooting is a part of life in the riding, and argued that the Trudeau government took the lazy approach of taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, instead of targeting gangs.

Mazier said he is not giving up hope and will continue to fight for the riding. He is currently working on drafting proposals and recommendations to put forward to the government, including a call to remove carbon tax from grain drying costs.

Members of Parliament will now have a six-day debate period to discuss and debate the throne speech, before proceeding to vote on it.

The Conservatives and the NDP’s have both said that they will not support the throne speech, while the Bloc has said they support it fully.

If the speech doesn’t get approved, there will be a confidence vote. If that vote results in a vote of no-confidence, Canadians will have to head back to the polls.

Premier Brian Pallister says his government will take on a “bolder” approach in the New Year.

In his year-end press conference, Pallister promised that he can continue to cut taxes, keep costs for civil services down, and move towards a balanced budget, despite fears of a potentially costly spring flood due to high water this fall.

The Premier added that he will follow through on promises made during the election like the elimination sales tax on home insurance, salon services, and other items.

Pallister continued to say that cost-control measures, including the public-sector wage freeze announced in 2017, introduced by his government, have allowed the province to save more money.

He added that, with some potential federal help, the province will be able to pay for any possible new flood-protection measures needed in the spring.

Pallister went on to say that the advertisements he has been running in Quebec, targeting civil servants in the province, are gaining some interest. The ads criticize Quebec’s highly scrutinized ban on religious apparel for public sector employees.

Last week, CKDM reported that the RCMP made a substantial drug bust in an extensive investigation in two provinces, and today RCMP confirmed that for the past 16 months, RCMP has been investigating a drug trafficking network through Project Declass, resulting in the largest drug bust in Manitoba history.

It all started in August 2018 when two people were arrested while attempting to import 40 kilograms of cocaine into Manitoba.

Project Declass uncovered an integrated network of individuals belonging to different organized crime groups that were working together in an opportunistic fashion to import and distribute illicit drugs in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba.

At 6:00 am, on December 4, 2019, nine coordinated search warrants were executed in Winnipeg, St. Laurent, and Calgary. Nine people were also arrested on Wednesday. More on that can be found in the article posted last week.

On December 5th, two more people, 34-year-old Jess Thomas and 33-year-old John Everse Medina, were arrested to bring the total number of individuals arrested up to 11.

Those 11 people have had 66 total charges laid against them to date.

Those charges include trafficking meth and cocaine, conspiracy to traffic fentanyl, possession of proceeds of crime, and money laundering.

The total amount of drugs seized throughout the investigation is 22 kilograms of methamphetamine, which translates to about 220,000 hits, and 43 kilograms of cocaine.

43 kg cocaine cropmeth Dec 2019

The street value of these drugs is estimated to be $6.5 million dollars. This investigation has resulted in the largest amount of meth seized in an organized crime investigation in Manitoba history.

In addition, 5 vehicles were seized, including a 2018 Harley Davidson motorcycle and financial seizures to date totalling over $100,000.

This investigation is still ongoing and restraining orders have been placed on additional bank accounts.

The RCMP says Project Declass is an excellent example of how they work with international and domestic partners to identify, target and arrest those who are importing cocaine, meth, fentanyl and other illicit drugs into our country.

The Manitoba RCMP would also like to thank the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Canada Border Service Agency, the Calgary Police Service, Regina Police Service, the MB Liquor & Lotteries Corporation, Seized Property Management Directorate, Health Canada, Fintrac, as well as RCMP investigators in British-Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. These partnerships were crucial to the success of the investigation.