Premier adds carbon pricing to lengthy to-do list

Throne speech outlines priorities of new government


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Premier Brian Pallister has discovered carbon pricing --- but how he defines that is still anyone’s guess.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/05/2016 (2391 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Premier Brian Pallister has discovered carbon pricing — but how he defines that is still anyone’s guess.

The only element to Monday’s throne speech that Pallister had not discussed during the election campaign was to develop a made-in-Manitoba climate action plan that “will include carbon pricing that fosters emissions reduction, retains investment capital, and stimulates new innovation in clean energy, businesses, and jobs.”

But he refused to “brainstorm” those ideas Monday.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 105 MM howitzer guns from the 38th Canadian Brigade Group Artillery Tactical group fire Monday at the Manitoba Legislature to salute the throne speech.

"To be frank, I envision a process where we come to a Manitoba position that benefits Manitobans," Pallister told reporters in a pre-speech briefing. "I’m not going to brainstorm here today — we will be unveiling some positions and there is some real discussion that is going to happen among the provinces."

Cross-government cost review

The rest of the five-page speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon in the legislative assembly Monday afternoon, reiterated many of Pallister’s campaign pledges, including a commitment to conduct a value-for-money review across government. It also included previous campaign promises to establish a Premier’s Enterprise Team to recommend how to grow the economy and a promise to join the New West Partnership Trade Agreement with Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

The speech touched on the Tories’ commitment to building tourism in the north, promising to launch the Yes! North tourism program Pallister pledged during the campaign. In terms of health and education, the speech reaffirmed his commitment to build a long-term literacy plan for children, establish a Wait Times Reduction Task Force, and immediately take steps to reduce ambulance fees. 

The abolishment of the so-called "vote tax", an annual subsidy to political parties that provides them with funds based on the number of votes they receive, made it into the speech. As did a promise to restore public plebiscites before Manitobans are saddled with major tax increases, such as an increase in the PST. 

Several changes that will affect the labour community were also mentioned, including a promise to restore the right to a secret-ballot union vote in workplaces and to allow all Manitobans, whether they are in a union or not, to bid on publicly-tendered projects. 

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Premier Brian Pallister talks to the media ahead of the throne speech Monday.

Mandate letters coming

Faced with an onslaught of questions about his government’s plans, Pallister promised during a pre-speech briefing that he will release sometime this week the mandate letters he gave each new minister, telling them how they’re to do their jobs.

“The mandate letters will show you the key priorities for each of the ministers,” he said.

Also to be released are mandate letters Pallister gave legislative assistants.

Pallister said Finance Minister Cameron Friesen will release an update on the province’s books on Wednesday. While Pallister wasn’t talking numbers Monday, it’s expected Friesen will say the province is in worse financial shape than the NDP claimed before leaving office. He also announced the Tories’ first budget will be tabled May 31.

“There’s a legislative agenda to be released soon,” said Pallister.

A warning

The premier warned they won’t keep every promise the NDP made to Manitobans — people understood those were election promises the New Democrats didn’t intend to keep, he said — and will start working on undoing damage the NDP had done. “These are course corrections” that won’t happen overnight, Pallister said.

If it wasn’t clear enough from the boards Pallister appointed to Manitoba Hydro, MPI, and liquor and lotteries, business will play a predominant role in his government.

The Premier’s Enterprise Team advising Pallister on jobs and growth will be comprised of business leaders — there is no mention of labour members or of anyone from academia or community organizations.

Similarly, Pallister envisions jobs and growth in sustainable development of natural resources, including forestry and mining, but no word yet on where that may occur, and whether development within provincial parks is on the table.

A former teacher, Pallister continues to place a major emphasis on improving early years literacy, starting immediately by talking with frontliners in education. But the premier made no mention of Manitoba children’s poor performances in national and international math tests, over which there has been province-wide concern.

Pallister has already begun drawing the business community and postsecondary schools together in search of private money for scholarships and bursaries, and increased investment by “the private-sector creators of Manitoba jobs.”

There are no hints yet whether Pallister will use that new financial aid to remove the cap limiting tuition increases to the rate of provincial growth.

Mayor Brian Bowman and NDP Leader Flor Marcelino are expected to address the throne speech later in the afternoon.






Updated on Monday, May 16, 2016 2:31 PM CDT: Adds video

Updated on Monday, May 16, 2016 6:21 PM CDT: Clarifies legislative assistants given mandate letters

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