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New MLA Pallister shuffles shadow cabinet

Tory Leader Brian Pallister's first job as a new MLA was giving his MLAs their marching orders.

In doing so, he shuffled experienced lieutenants out of familiar critics' roles -- Myrna Driedger from health to finance and Kelvin Goertzen from justice to education -- and gave more duties to his rural backbenchers.

Manitoba Conservative Leader and new MLA Brian Pallister talks to reporters, flanked by his Tory caucus at the legislature Wednesday.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Conservative Leader and new MLA Brian Pallister talks to reporters, flanked by his Tory caucus at the legislature Wednesday. Photo Store

"I put a tremendous amount of thought into where I think people can grow and contribute," Pallister said, as each of his 18 MLAs filed out of the Tory caucus room at the legislature. "I thought this thing out four years in advance."

Brandon West MLA Reg Helwer becomes justice critic and Morden-Winkler's Cameron Friesen becomes health critic.

He also called on Manitobans to help him grow the Progressive Conservative party with their support and ideas over the next three years.

"We are also committed not just to the simple criticism of the government's agenda, though there is much to criticize, but also to the research and generation of ideas that the government has missed, that it's ignored or that it's simply too tired to find," he said.

Pallister was elected handily Tuesday night in the Fort Whyte byelection that saw a voter turnout of 42 per cent. He is to be sworn in as the new MLA two weeks from today, at which time he'll move into the Opposition leader's office.

Pallister also congratulated Liberal Bob Axworthy on his respectful second-place finish but stopped short of saying the Liberals gave his own campaign a run for its money.

Premier Greg Selinger said Wednesday the result in Fort Whyte was "no surprise."

"I look forward to working with the new leader of the Opposition," he said. He also said he was not concerned about the NDP's third-place showing.

Selinger said Brandy Schmidt was a very good candidate who performed well. "But there was another good local candidate who attracted lots of votes and congratulations to him as well," he said, referring to Axworthy.

Selinger said he expects the government will recall the legislature "in the normal time frame," meaning late October or early November.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca -- with files from Larry Kusch

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2012 A5

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Updated on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 6:26 AM CDT: adds video

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