Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-MLA gets into trucking, wheat biz

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What do departing politicians do to get politics out of their systems?

They could try cleansing crystals, or perhaps meditation on a Tibetan mountain top.

But if you're Dave Faurschou, you hit the open highway.

Faurschou has spent the last year driving long-haul semis almost as an act of self-purification, to purge his political past. Faurschou was the Conservative MLA for Portage la Prairie for 14 years before leaving in 2011.

"(Driving truck) allowed me to reflect on what had taken place and what I wanted to focus on going ahead in the future," said Faurschou, who turns 57 this month.

Faurschou left politics on Oct. 4, 2011. He climbed into the cab of a big rig on Oct. 7. He's been mainly hauling oat products from Can-Oat Milling in Portage, and product from Maple Leaf plants in Brandon and St. Boniface. His primary destination has been Mexico and the Deep South.

"I enjoy driving, getting away from the phone, faxes and emails," said Faurschou, who hauled for Portage Transit out of Portage la Prairie, owned by Portage councillor Liz Driedger and her husband, Bernie.

It's no secret Faurschou had a falling-out with former PC leader Hugh McFayden. As an incumbent, he faced a serious challenge for the Tory nomination in Portage in 2007. Those were factors in his decision to step down.

"I'm a Duff Roblin Conservative. I believe in health care and education," said Faurschou, adding he was the former chairman of the Portage la Prairie School Division before entering provincial politics.

Faurschou is putting the big rig into park now. He recently began concentrating on consulting work, drawing on his background in farming (he sold his farm while an MLA) and politics. He's advising some potato farmers who are undergoing food-safety audits.

As well, Faurschou has been on the ground floor in the development of a new wheat variety he has named Canadian Bison. Faurschou was the primary source of outside funding for the wheat research project that started 15 years ago with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Kudos to researchers Fred Townley-Smith and graduate student Gavin Humphries of the Agriculture Canada Cereal Research Centre at the University of Manitoba.

The variety recently topped a study by the St. Boniface Research Foundation for the best protein content for the human diet among Canadian wheats, Faurschou said. However, it's more suited for flatbreads. Faurschou is looking to make a deal with a company to grow up to 50,000 to 80,000 hectares of the wheat next year.

 

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PALLISTER MANSION: The controversy didn't rage nearly as much in Portage la Prairie, where Conservative Leader Brian Pallister is from, over Pallister's recent purchase of the former Sifton mansion on Wellington Crescent for $2 million.

"We all look up to him," is one joke local people tell about the 6-4 Pallister.

Pallister has said he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth and his story checks out. He was raised on a Portage-area farm. His late father battled physical issues due to polio. Pallister studied to become a teacher and his first teaching job was at a Grade 5 classroom in Gladstone. He started to sell Sun Life insurance at night and proved to be a gifted salesman. He was one of the top five insurance salesmen at Sun Life in the country. He started Pallister Insurance on Saskatchewan Avenue in Portage, which is still running today. He then moved into financial advising and politics.

Of course, pension money from the provincial and federal governments hasn't hurt his finances. (Faurschou succeeded Pallister as Portage MLA in 1997, after Pallister resigned to run federally.)

The Sifton mansion is undoubtedly ostentatious. However, one thing to remember is the $2-million mansion was originally listed at $3.3 million. A contractor familiar with the house maintains the 9,000-square-foot, seven-car garage mansion is a steal at $2 million. As a real estate investment, it may have been a deal too good for Pallister to pass up.

"If I had $2 million, I'd buy that house, too," the contractor said.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2013 A7

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