Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tory leader keeps address private

Pallister cites 'personal security reasons'

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WANT to discover where Conservative Leader Brian Pallister hangs his hat after a day on the campaign trail? You won't find out from the agency that conducts Manitoba's provincial elections.

Pallister, acclaimed as Tory leader in July, is vying for a seat in the legislature in the Fort Whyte byelection Sept. 4. The vacancy was created by the resignation of former Tory leader Hugh McFadyen.

Under provincial law, the chief electoral officer must publish a candidate's name, party affiliation, the name of the candidate's official agent and the candidate's home address. The information appears in Elections Manitoba news releases as well as in newspaper ads placed by the elections watchdog.

However, The Election Act also states a candidate can ask that their address not be published "for personal security reasons."

Use of this provision is rare, perhaps because it is not well-known. In the last provincial election, all candidates, including Premier Greg Selinger and McFadyen, allowed their home addresses to be published. An Elections Manitoba official said Tuesday that in the 2007 election, one female candidate requested her address not be used.

On Monday, Elections Manitoba issued a news release listing all the candidates running in Fort Whyte. Nominations are closed. All candidates had their home addresses listed in the release except for Pallister.

"We have an official letter from Mr. Pallister requesting that (his address not be published)," said Elections Manitoba spokeswoman Alison Mitchell.

Reached Tuesday, Pallister said he understands as someone who leads a political party and is seeking elected office he is "public property to a degree."

"But at the same time, my kids (daughters aged 15 and 21) didn't sign up for this. Where we make our home, frankly, is a family matter," he said.

Asked if he and his family had been threatened, Pallister recalled two instances of "threatening behaviour" years ago -- once during his time in provincial politics and once when he served as a federal Tory MP. "It can be an issue for anyone that's involved in public life," he said.

Mitchell said it's possible few candidates ask that their addresses not be published because they're unaware they can do so. She said in the future, the agency will let candidates know they have that option.

Paul Thomas, a retired University of Manitoba political science professor, said the practice of publishing candidates' home addresses harkens back to an era when "politics was not as professionalized" and it mattered more to voters whether a candidate lived in the constituency he or she was contesting.

"There used to be more stigma attached to being parachuted into a riding and living somewhere else. There seems to be less of that today," he said.

Of the five candidates in Fort Whyte, a suburban riding in southwest Winnipeg, only one lives in the area -- Liberal Bob Axworthy. (Pallister, who is favoured to retain the seat for the Conservatives, has made no secret of the fact he lives in neighbouring Charleswood.)

Axworthy said he respects Pallister's decision not to divulge his home address, but he thinks it's important for voters to know where he lives and that he understands local issues. "I'm making it public where I live and Mr. Pallister is choosing not to."

NDP party secretary Nanci Morrison said she could see why a female candidate who may have been in an abusive relationship may not wish to have her address published. But she said the matter has not been an issue in her 21/2 years in the job.

"In 2011, it never became an issue. No candidate came to me and said, 'I don't want to list my home address,' " she said.

Fort Whyte candidates also include the NDP's Brandy Schmidt, the Green party's Donnie Benham and independent Darrell Ackman.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2012 A4

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