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Pallister calls 84 days of debate a 'considerable accomplishment' for Tories

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Brian Pallister

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Opposition Leader Brian Pallister raised the flag of victory today in holding the governing NDP to account over the past 84 days -- the first day being the tabling of a budget that called for the PST to be hiked one percentage point.

"What we've done is essentially unprecedented in Manitoba political history," Pallister told reporters Wednesday. "We prolonged the debate around the approval of the budget for what will end up being close to nine months. That's a considerable accomplishment for a group of people in an opposition political party."

The sitting ends Friday after an agreement between the parties was hammered out last week. It will see two high-priority government bills, one targeting school bullying and the other a watered-down bill forcing tiny municipalities to amalgamate, pass.

But passage of a bill enabling the government to increase the PST without a voter referendum (Bill 20) will be pushed back to late fall. So will deliberation on a budget-implementation bill that allows, among other things, the subsidization of registered political parties' operating expenses.

The Progressive Conservative leader said the challenge for his party now is to make sure Manitobans remember the PST hike when they head to the voting booth in the spring of 2016.

"Will Manitobans remember it? Well, if things go bad, everyone will remember it," Pallister said. "If things go good, maybe less so."

When the sitting ends, MLAs will have sat 86 days since Finance Minister Stan Struthers tabled his budget and plans for the PST to go to eight per cent as of July 1.

The longest summer sitting in recent memory came in 1985 when MLAs sat 85 days debating issues ranging from cash-strapped farmers to conflict-of-interest guidelines for politicians and senior bureaucrats.

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