Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/7/2012 (3294 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — There’s a tall, new figure set to shake up the province’s political landscape, but most Manitobans, in these lazy days of summer, can be forgiven if they’re caught unawares.
At 5 p.m. on Saturday, nominations close for the leadership of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party.
And as early as next week — the Tories haven’t announced when — former cabinet minister in Gary Filmon’s government and Canadian Alliance and Conservative member of Parliament Brian Pallister will take over the Tory helm from Hugh McFadyen.
If the news catches Manitobans by surprise — it won’t be their fault. Pallister, 58, has faced no challengers. He has held few high-profile events. So he hasn’t been in the news much.
A fall leadership convention — and all the excitement that would have come with it — will never happen.
Several prominent Tories, including MLAs Kelvin Goertzen and Heather Stefanson and Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge, gave the provincial leadership some thought, then bowed out. For several months now, it has been Pallister’s job for the taking.
Without any challengers, the imposing 6-foot-8 insurance and financial investment firm owner has operated below the political radar, especially in Winnipeg.
Several observers interviewed this week say the lack of publicity in the search for a new Tory leader is hardly good news for a party that hasn’t tasted power since 1999. But neither is it a death knell.
“I don’t think that this is good for the public’s perception of the party,” said Brandon University political scientist Kelly Saunders. “The party needs to reach out to more Manitobans; it needs to create that excitement, that buzz, particularly amongst Winnipeggers.”
On the bright side, though, the PCs will avoid the nasty internal divisions that can occur in a highly contested leadership race, she said. And given that an election won’t be held any earlier than October 2015 and as late as the spring of 2016 under the province’s election laws, Pallister has lots of time to become better acquainted with the Manitoba public.
Pallister, who lived much of his life near Portage la Prairie, where he owns his business, has recently moved to Charleswood. He will likely run in Fort Whyte, McFadyen’s seat, when a byelection is called. McFadyen has said he will formally step down as party leader and resign his seat on July 30.
Pallister did not respond to interview requests.
» Winnipeg Free Press