BORIS MINKEVICH/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Brian Pallister introduced himself Monday as the new leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives, saying the party faces “a very significant rebuilding job.”
OK, that’s it. I give up. I have no more use for the provincial Progressive Conservatives.
I used to joke around that I had Tory values, that I believed in smaller government and fewer taxes. I thought it was better to lock up criminals and throw away the key instead of coddling them and worrying too much about their crybaby upbringing.
I used to be uptight and inflexible. I tried going to church. I tried wearing ties all the time.
I used to scream at the left-wing bias on most TV news — especially the CBC. But not any longer.
I’m going to see what it’s like being a Dipper for a while.
They seem to have moved into the middle of the policial spectrum anyhow, and are doing a better job wooing the Red Tories and Liberals than the Tories are.
Not that it’ll change how we cover things here at the Sun — heck, we’ve been accused of being left and right and everything in the middle — but I’m just saying that I’m going to stretch out my left-wing in my personal life for a bit and see how it feels.
As for those who believe journalists shouldn’t have political alliances, you’ve got to be dreaming if you think they don’t. They’re human. The trick is not to let it influence your work.
Yeah, I’ve always had some socialist friends, but the conversations would mostly be adversarial. Now I’ll be picking their brains to find out why they are becoming so attractive to voters. And why — especially in Manitoba — the Tories can’t figure out how to stop the socialist hoardes from storming the gates. Or in Manitoba’s case, how to throw them from Fortress Winnipeg.
In fact, while I believe the Harper government has a chance against the oddly charming Thomas Mulcair and his blossoming NDP, the Selinger government ain’t got a worry in the world in Friendly Manitoba.
You see, the Progressive Conservative Opposition — thrown from office in 1999 — can’t find a way to beat them down.
And that’s why I’m going orange — I’m sick of sticking up for a bunch of losers.
And barring any ill-conceived leadership change or any major scandal close to the next provincial election — which they declared will be April 19, 2016, not Oct. 6, 2015, as the law really requires — the NDP will capture another easy majority government.
In fact, I’ll predict right now that they could have two or three more terms in them.
They have had so much time to make so many "friends" — just think of the appointments to boards and commissions alone — and have gerrymandered the labour legislation to ensure lifelong support from the unions, the NDP is in solid.
And the latest events over in Tory Town haven’t given me any hope that things will change. In fact, the coronation of Brian Pallister as the new leader of the PC party has pretty much convinced me there’s a handbasket dropping into a very warm place at 23 Kennedy St.
The fact the Tories couldn’t have rounded up a couple of warm bodies to run against Pallister so that they could have a real leadership convention this fall, instead of what will be a largely ignored annual general meeting, is a joke.
The party missed out of a lot of free publicity. And sure, some would argue it might show some divides in the parties, who doesn’t know there are ideological differences in all parties. It’s just a matter for the leader to play diplomat and makes things work.
You can’t find a group of more disparate folks than in the NDP, but they all come together at the end to sing Kumbaya and go on to win elections in Manitoba.
So once acclaimed as leader last weekend when nobody else filed papers, what did Pallister do?
Did he have a nicely staged photo op with a bunch of cheering (or at least smiling) staff, supporters and MLAs around him? Nope. He did the exact opposite of what he should have.
In fact, his media event was so boring, it left the reporters taking about what he was wearing (a blue suit, shocking).
Here’s a excerpt of the Winnipeg Free Press account of Monday’s event at the Manitoba legislature:
In his comments to reporters in a stiflingly hot Tory caucus room at the Manitoba legislature, Pallister had little in the way of news, or pomp, to offer. Having been denied a leadership convention, and the accompanying fuss and stress and intense media coverage, he seemed not the least bit interested in making a splash on Monday. Not a single Tory MLA joined him for his efficient news conference. No triumphant walk into a packed caucus room; no rousing applause.
Yawn. And a big stretch.
What Pallister does have going for him is that he is considered to have strong rural roots (good for the Tory base) and 13 years of elected experience in provincial and federal politics.
Now he gets to concentrate on winning a seat in Winnipeg, likely in the Fort Whyte riding where former Tory leader Hugh McFadyen has stepped down.
But ha, ha, ha, the NDP has already pulled a smart and fast political move there.
Labour Minister Jennifer Howard on Thursday announced funding of 20 preschool and 45 school-age child-care spaces at Whyte Ridge Child Care, the Free Press reported.
Just around the same time this week, the NDP held a nomination meeting to select a candidate, Multiple Sclerosis Society worker Brandy Schmidt, to run against Pallister.
And yesterday, a byelection for Fort Whyte was called for Sept. 4.
McFadyen won the seat for the second consecutive time in 2011 with 5,594 votes, more than double the votes of his NDP competition, Sunny Dhaliwal, who earned 2,655, the Freep reported.
The Tories have held the Fort Whyte riding since 1995.
And it’s more than likely that Fort Whyte will elect Pallister, who spent much of his life in Brandon and Portage la Prairie, but now lives in the Charleswood neighbourhood of Winnipeg. The political constituency of Charleswood butts up against Fort Whyte.
But while they are running a relative unknown, the NDP isn’t just going to roll over and play dead — hence the bit of dirty pool with the child-care announcement. And if enough disgruntled expatriate Tories like me decide to drink the Orange Kool-Aid for a while, things could get very uncomfortable for the Tories in Fort Whyte.
And what if I can’t stomach Dippernomics, you might ask?
Well, there’s the Greens, the Liberals and well, the Communists.
As a protest, I did vote Communist (and took a photo of my ballot to prove it) in one federal election.
And the next day, the Brandon-Souris Communist candidate — Lisa Gallagher, who finished last — dropped off a dog-eared copy of "Das Kapital" for me.
Which I still have in my bookshelf. Yours in the struggle.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 4, 2012