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Bipole III? Brian, what are you thinking?

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Since the day after the Oct. 4 election, Freep comrade Larry Kusch and I have been trying to get in touch with Brian Pallister.

We were told that in some Tory circles, the former Portage MLA and MP was the heir apparent to outgoing provincial leader Hugh McFdayen.

One person suggested that even if McFadyen had won more seats, his days of being leader were numbered anyway, and that Pallister was already waiting in the wings to take over. He’d even started that wooing process during the campaign by sending flowers to some Progressive Conservative candidates.

Anyway, Larry and I left several messages for Pallister at his business and home, trying to find out his intentions.

No callbacks.

Then on Halloween, Pallister surfaced. He talked to a bunch of media, including Larry, but only offered a vague hint on whether he’ll toss his name into the as-of-yet unannounced leadership contest.

Pallister’s name has come up before as being a leadership material. The first was in 2000 to replace Gary Filmon. The second was in 2006 to challenge Stuart Murray for the provincial leadership.

This time Pallister sounds a little more committed.

But if he expects to re-enter public life—he left federal politics in 2008—he’s got to pick a platform plank different than Bipole III.

For him to say there should be a provincial referendum on the route the new hydro transmission line takes is four years too late. Some would argue even longer. And it’s hardly original.

If Pallister is truly serious about putting the "C" back in the conservative party, he can’t do it on bipole, or by sending out flowers to a few select Tories.


Chief McCaskill: Five more years? Three?

One of my last assignments as police reporter was covering the swearing-in of Keith McCaskill as the city’s police chief Nov. 20, 2007.

He said then he was committed to the position for five years.

I asked him recently about his intentions of signing up to stay on the job longer, but he offered no firm answer.

All he said was he and his wife Grace will talk about it at some point soon.

From what I see, McCaskill has four stable years as chief under his belt, certainly a lot more stable than his predecessors Jack Ewatski, David Cassels, Dale Henry and Herb Stephen.

From what I see, he doesn’t appear to be a person in a rush to go anywhere -- just yet, anyway.

The other question is: who in the department has his or her eyes on the chief’s office? The two deputy chiefs are Shelley Hart and Art Stannard. Both could ease into McCaskill’s chair without much of a blip.

With all respect to Stannard, my money is on Hart.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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