Premier has ulterior motive to call early election, Kinew tells business breakfast


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Opposition leader and NDP MLA Wab Kinew isn't buying the Progressive Conservative government's rationale linked to the possibility of an early provincial election, and he told a room of more than 100 local business and community leaders what he thinks is really going on.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/04/2019 (1451 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opposition leader and NDP MLA Wab Kinew isn’t buying the Progressive Conservative government’s rationale linked to the possibility of an early provincial election, and he told a room of more than 100 local business and community leaders what he thinks is really going on.

Premier Brian Pallister has hinted in the past week that he may call a provincial election earlier than the fall of 2020, suggesting Manitobans would rather celebrate the province’s 150th birthday next year than go to the polls.

“I don’t buy that reason,” Kinew said Thursday. “You want my honest answer (which) is I think there’s a strong likelihood that the economy moves into recession next year and that the closure of the emergency rooms are going to be a disaster and Pallister wants to go to the polls before those two begin.”

He was referring to the province’s plan to consolidate health-care services by closing three of Winnipeg’s six emergency rooms in hospitals, transforming two of them into urgent-care centres.

Kinew was speaking at a Manitoba Chambers of Commerce breakfast as the second guest in the 2019 Leaders Series of speakers. The organization heard from Dougald Lamont, Manitoba’s Liberal leader and MLA for St. Boniface on March 21. The series will conclude April 18 with Pallister, the MLA for Fort Whyte.

Kinew said the NDP is ready, whenever the election is called.

“Running to be the premier of this province would be a tremendous honour. If Pallister is going to give me the opportunity to do that this year, then I’m all for that, 100 per cent,” he said.

Other key issues for Kinew include building relationships with people and other levels of government and the province’s economy.

He said the NDP health-care policy is to put more focus on prevention of health issues in the population, which will translate into fewer people needing services, improving access to those who need them.

“They (the PC government) are focused on improving management outcomes, but what I think the health-care system needs is to be focused on moving health outcomes,” Kinew said. “We shouldn’t be focused on moving the management metrics. We should be focused on reducing the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. We should be focused on infant premature mortality and improving rates of heart disease and survival rates of people with cancer.”

Kinew wasn’t afraid to indulge in some humour at his own expense.

Following his speech, he joined chamber president and CEO Chuck Davidson for a casual question-and-answer session. Davidson asked Kinew for his thoughts on entering politics for the right reasons, and his leadership path.

“I started life on the reserve and I did not have a straight path toward the political life. Say what you will about me, and the premier will say what he will about me in the upcoming election, but I will say this: if my life were a movie, you would watch it. Right?” he said, drawing laughs.

His personal history includes being a rapper, a journalist, an academic and an author of a book in which he chronicled some negative life choices and his pathways to personal growth.

“Who would play you in the movie?” Davidson asked.

“To be honest, it would be Adam Beach. And not because I look as good as Adam, but do they cast anybody else there (in Hollywood) in an Indigenous role?” Kinew said with a chuckle.

“I feel like my ethics, my moral compass, my desire for public service have been forged over my life experience. I know why I did this and I know why I want to help people and I know the job of the leader sometimes is to lead and not just tell people what they want to hear. It’s also bringing people along to what you think is needed in our society today. I still have that connection to why I got into this thing. I think that it’s really important for me to stay humble and remind myself of those reasons.”

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