A new Probe Research/Winnipeg Free Press survey shows Premier Greg Selinger continues to receive a solid nod of approval from Manitobans for his performance in office, while newly acclaimed Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister has yet to be recognized by many voters.
And, we suggest, that is a situation that will take a long time to change.
Even as Pallister tried to grab a headline or two, just a few days before the party gathers for its annual general meeting by calling for a widespread income tax cut Wednesday.
Pallister called on the governing NDP to raise the basic personal exemption — the threshold at which people start paying income tax — to $10,617 from the current $8,634.
He said the move would save each income earner $200 a year and bring Manitoba more in line with other provinces. Saskatchewan, for example, starts taxing incomes at $14,942.
“It may not sound like a lot to an ivory-tower inhabitant, but it is a lot to a person who is struggling to make ends meet, and it’s a lot to Manitobans who are working to pay the bills at the end of the month,” the Progressive Conservative leader said, having just left his ivory tower to make the announcement.
As the Winnipeg Free Press opined, it would be wrong to call this a desperate bid for attention. However, the Tories needed to do something, because under Pallister’s leadership, the party has been dormant.
There was no “convention bounce” because there was no convention. Something Pallister ensured years ago when he started planning his eventual takeover of the party.
Since he won the leadership by acclamation in late July, Pallister has been cautious and quiet.
Of greater concern, about half of all respondents didn’t know who he was.
The NDP, reported the Free Press, accused Pallister of leaving the door open to a tax hike.
And the party sent out its panda in a pit bull costume, Finance Minister Stan Struthers, to sink his teeth into Pallister’s planned policy.
“He seems to be interested in entertaining the idea of an HST, which would hurt Manitoba families,” a soft-spoken Finance Minister Stan Struthers murmured.
“Mr. Pallister has not thought this through.”
What a mauling for the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.