Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dirty pool

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Tory Leader Brian Pallister might have a heart of gold and the bank account to match, but his decision Tuesday to publicize setting up an athletic scholarship, in his name, to Brandon University days before provincial byelections looks a little like dirty pool. That doesn't look good on the man auditioning to be premier of Manitoba.

Mr. Pallister's generosity is well-established with BU, his alma mater, where he played sports. A matching BU donation will establish a $20,000 fund for an annual $900 scholarship for female athletes. But Mr. Pallister chose to make this announcement in Brandon as Opposition leader, issued on party stationery and via caucus personnel less than a week before the Jan. 28 byelections in Arthur-Virden and Morris. This, while government MLAs are barred by legislation from announcing spending and programming initiatives.

After repeat missteps of their own, the NDP and government departments and agencies have been careful, so far, to withhold publicity in the immediate run-up to Jan. 28. Mr. Pallister plans to complain to the elections commissioner, nonetheless, about the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council's annual celebration of women's suffrage and commemoration of Nellie McClung on Jan. 28.

That complaint is petty. Mr. Pallister's opportunism is unseemly. His generosity is welcome -- more than $100,000 in scholarship donations so far, he said -- but he should make such gestures as a private citizen, not on the campaign trail as leader of the Opposition.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2014 A12

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