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Tory Leader Pallister defends $2-M home purchase

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Brian Pallister wants to make it known that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and that he is not disdainful of those who aren’t wealthy.

The Progressive Conservative leader called a press conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building today to answer criticisms following the news that he had bought a $2-million mansion on Wellington Crescent.

For five minutes, he described how he came from humble beginnings on a farm southwest of Portage la Prairie. The 450-square-foot home in which his parents raised him and his two siblings did not have indoor plumbing until 1967, he said.

Pallister put himself through university, working first as a teacher and then launching a financial planning business out of his car.

"I built my business based on helping people get better off financially and in so doing I got better off financially myself. I helped young families get out of debt. I helped small business people to find success in an era of double-digit interest rates. I helped farmers to be able to pass on their farms to their heirs. I helped labourers get benefits packages. I helped working people get pensions. I helped seniors find better financial security than they would have without my advice," he said.

He said he got into politics to fight for those "who need smarter and more efficient government to work for them, who need government to help sometimes and sometimes just to get out of the way."

Pallister said he took exception to comments from university professors quoted in Free Press and CBC stories about his house purchase.

The academics left the false impression, he said, that he couldn’t relate to — or had disdain for — people who were struggling financially.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said, adding that is why he felt obliged to speak out today.

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