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‘O Brad Wall, Brad Wall, wherefore art thou?'

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The last time I checked, he had a full-time job in Saskatchewan.

But that hasn’t stopped a few on Manitoba’s right from trying to clone Wall and his success with the Saskatchewan Party in Manitoba.

They apparently want to call it the Manitoba Party with the goal of fielding candidates in the next provincial election in 2015. It would include disgruntled Tories and Liberals and anyone else who views the reigning NDP as a Marxist scourge driving the province to financial ruin, making it the Mississippi of Canada.

If Wall is their messiah, Saskatoon radio host John Gormley is their prophet. His book Left Out: Saskatchewan's NDP and the Relentless Pursuit of Mediocrity is considered essential reading for those who see a future so bleak, because of Manitoba’s NDP, that their children’s children will be living in dung huts on a scorched prairie. Gormley’s book is part a how-to on how to fight back against so-called unimaginative, uninspired, do-nothing government. In Saskatchewan’s case, that would be the NDP under Roy Romanow and later Lorne Calvert.

In Manitoba, a new right-wing party could supposedly duplicate the Saskatchewan Party’s electoral success. Wall was swept into office in 2007 and last Nov. 7, cemented his and his party’s hold on power by winning 49 of 58 seats in the Saskatchewan legislature, leaving the once-mighty NDP with nine seats.

Again, the general feeling of those said to be behind a Manitoba Party — I’ve tried to speak to some of those said to be involved, but they’re as quiet as church mice on a Sunday—is that this province is in the same floundering boat Saskatchewan was before Wall.

The icing on the cake for them was the Oct. 4 provincial election and the Progressive Conservative’s failure to win more than the 19 seats it already had going into the fall campaign.

There’s also the dismal PC campaign, abandoning the proud Tory legacy of former Premier Gary Filmon, in a misguided attempt to outdo the NDP on just about every plank except the Bipole III transmission line.

Because of that, they believe that the Progressive Conservative name is so damaged it won’t be able to recover by 2015, and that the NDP will coast to victory for another four years.

So, what is to be done?

Easy, they say. Unite. Unite. Unite. Fight. Fight. Fight.

Trouble is, is the Progressive Conservative name really that damaged in Manitoba?

Yes, to talk and to look at some in the party five months after the election it’s like watching an episode of The Walking Dead.

But there’s still a pulse. Its heart still beats.

Why the Saskatchewan Party has been so successful in that province is because the Progressive Conservatives cut their own throats. The lid on their coffin was hammered shut in the early '90s when 14 former PC MLAs were convicted of fraud and breach of trust in a phony expense-claim scandal.

In Manitoba, we don’t have that. We only have a PC Party that made a few dumb decisions in the fall campaign. There will be no criminal charges, no public inquiry.

What’s also missing is a Brad Wall. Simply, we don’t have one.

Another drawback to this low chatter about a Manitoba Party is that it distracts from the real business at hand — finding a replacement for outgoing PC leader Hugh McFadyen and then moving forward.

Whether it’s to be Brian Pallister or Kelvin Goertzen or whomever, they’ll have their hands full enough raising the PC profile going into 2015 without being sandbagged by a second right-wing party.

Unless, of course, the PCs do the unthinkable and fold their tent and join it.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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