Brian Pallister marked his first anniversary as Progressive Conservative leader by vowing to keep pushing the Selinger government to back down on its decision to raise the PST.
Pallister, a successful businessman and former MP and provincial cabinet minister who was acclaimed as Conservative leader following the resignation of Hugh McFadyen, showed no signs the Opposition Tories are ready to let the legislature break for the summer any time soon.
When it was suggested to him that the NDP appears to be dug in on its retail sales tax policy, Pallister retorted: "People are always dug in before they give up."
The Conservatives have used every means at their disposal to prolong the legislative session, which was originally set to conclude June 13. The NDP, which had passed virtually none of its legislative agenda by then, called an "emergency" sitting of the House the following Monday, and MLAs have been sitting ever since.
The Conservatives appear to be enjoying the government’s struggle — although they did allow a special supply bill to receive royal assent on Monday. The money bill ensures the government has sufficient funds to pay salaries, fund programs and keep the lights on well into fall.
And who knows? MLAs may still have been sitting without a break by the time the money runs out.
"I see many indications that the government is wilting under the pressure of being accountable," said Pallister, surrounded by members of his caucus, at a news conference today. When you hear (the government) house leader saying they didn’t anticipate this degree of opposition, that tells me they’re not used to being opposed the way they are."
Pallister said government members need to start thinking about the impact of their actions — like the PST hike — on the general public.
And his party is quite ready to prolong the session to ensure that they do that, he said. "I don’t suggest that we let them (government MLAs) go outside this building right away. I think they need to learn to reflect while they’re here."