While NDP politicians are out and about pressing the flesh this Riel Day holiday weekend at the Festival du Voyageur, the fact is their party was against it, before they were for it.

And it was only because of the utter humiliation of the “worker’s party” by two radio jocks in 2007, that the government of Gary Doer sheepishly gave in.

The longtime morning team of Joe Aiello and Tom McGouran- both still on the Winnipeg airwaves – noted that other provinces had initiated a mid-winter break, and began a campaign to get Manitobans a well-deserved winter break.

It fell under the auspices of Labour Minister Nancy Allan, who dismissed the idea with no small amount of snark.

No fans of the Doer government, we picked up on the issue on-air with Spirited Kenny suggesting it should be called KICK-FM Day, and helped direct our listeners to Tom and Joe’s petition. They didn’t really need much help as they gathered 30,000 signatures IN ONE WEEK. Immediately, the NDP began to sing a different tune.

On February 9, 2007 she was with the duo as they handed out “Just Doer” T-shirts to their listeners and “announced the province was undertaking a process to establish a new holiday.” the Sun reported.

As payoff for attending their media event and for making the holiday a reality, the two DJs gave Allan a free T-shirt and let her request a couple of classic rock songs. She picked Takin’ Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive and Loverboy’s Working for the Weekend.”

In April, Allan tabled legislation for a civic holiday in February because “”Manitobans have told us loud and clear that they would like a holiday in February during the long stretch between New Year’s and Easter.” CBC reported that “Each school will be allowed to submit one entry. Material on the contest will be sent to each of the province’s 850 schools shortly.”

On Sept. 25, 2007. the Free Press reported “We think this is a pretty historic day,” said Labour Minister Nancy Allan as she unveiled the moniker.”

Here is where the story gets confusing. Although the NDP claimed 850 schools would be asked, the newspaper stated “names (were) submitted by 114 schools across the province.”

No one has ever explained why 736 schools supposedly abstained from participating.

And while “Riel was the choice of 11 schools, each of which will receive a $1,000 grant for new library materials”, we learned that in fact, 21 schools had submitted “Family Day.”

Yet, “The Riel Day name was approved by cabinet but it was chosen by the MB4Youth Council.”

To this day, no one believes that was the case and informed sources told us a political decision was made to recognize Riel with a civic holiday and boost the Festival.

Nonetheless, the February Monday now known as Riel Day is a big day for families to be together and do things.

They all owe CITI-FM, Tom and Joe a big thanks for not taking ‘NO’ for an answer and forcing the Doer government to give them a break.

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