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Pallister says becoming 'more inclusive' important for party success

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Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says hard work, innovation and becoming a "more inclusive" political party is the Tory recipe for success in the next election.

Speaking to PC supporters at a luncheon today, Pallister said the Conservatives must become a party of renewal, outreach and inclusion.

"It requires our constituency associations to be more open than they have been, more inclusive than they have been and more ambitious than they have been," he told about 100 patrons of the Conservative Club of Winnipeg.

Part of that openness will include reaching out more effectively to women. On Thursday, Pallister said, he and his colleagues will meet privately with a few dozen women from various backgrounds and representing different sectors of Manitoba society.

"(The meeting is) designed to solicit ideas for how to do a better job for the people of Manitoba and do a better job of making sure that our political organization is reflective of the priorities of women in our province," the PC leader said after his speech.

To win the next election, the Conservatives will need to improve their standing in Winnipeg, where they hold just a handful of seats.

They’ll also need to continue to make gains in popular support among female voters. The NDP has successfully courted the female vote as it’s won four successive majority governments. However, in an April Probe Research/Winnipeg Free Press poll the Conservatives eclipsed the NDP in popular support among women provincewide.

Pallister said the party also needs to do a better job of reaching out to new Canadians. And he urged PC members to roll up their sleeves — now — if they expect to defeat the NDP in the next election.

He said if there’s one thing that he and his adversaries in the NDP are in agreement with it’s that the campaign for the hearts of voters has already begun. (A general election will be held as early as October 2015 or as late as the spring of 2016, depending on the timing of the next federal vote.)

The Conservatives have formed "Blue Crew" teams to canvass potential voters for support in constituencies held by the NDP. They’ve also hired several summer students to assist volunteers in going door to door to identify supporters and update the party’s database.

"I think that there is a tendency in all political organizations to believe the campaign is about five weeks long," Pallister said. "I’m trying to dispel that myth because it is just a myth."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 5:05 PM CDT: Writethru

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