Manitoba leaders meet as early election talk swirls
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/04/2019 (1522 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Opposition Leader Wab Kinew emerged Monday from a formal meeting with Brian Pallister convinced the Manitoba premier plans to call an early election in defiance of the province’s fixed-date legislation.
Kinew wouldn’t provide details of what was said, adding Pallister was evasive when he pressed him about the potential timing of the next election.
“One of the things that he did let slip out is that he would give us some advance notice, which to me confirms his intention to break the fixed election-date law,” the NDP leader told reporters.
Meanwhile, an official with Elections Manitoba said Monday her office is scrambling to be ready for an early election call because of the public speculation on the issue.
“It’s a busy place over here right now, I have to say,” said Alison Mitchell, manager of communications and public information.
During an election, Elections Manitoba’s headquarters staff expands to between 75 and 100. The organization has been hiring staff lately, with more starting this week, she said. As of Monday, it had filled about 35 to 40 positions.
Pallister refused to say whether he planned to call an early election. Speculation has been growing he will call one this spring.
Asked about Kinew’s comment he implied to the NDP leader he was ready to break the fixed-election date law, the Tory premier said: “I have no response to that.”
Pallister has insisted the fixed election date of Oct. 6, 2020, is a “drop-dead date,” and an election can be held before then. Political opponents and others have said any leeway in the law is to allow for an election to be called if the government is defeated in the legislature.
The premier said he assured Kinew and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont in separate meetings Monday he has no intentions of “snapping an election” to take advantage of any perceived lack of preparedness on the part of his opponents.
Asked if he would commit to giving the opposition leaders a heads-up before the start of a campaign, he responded: “Yes, absolutely. I’ll do that.”
Pallister said it was important to give the other political parties “fair notice, so they have time to get prepared.”
Asked if he would be willing to give the opposition 90 days notice of an election, Pallister said that would not be unreasonable, and he would do so “if possible.”
The premier previously stated he would not call an election during a flood watch. (Flood forecasters have predicted a Red River flood this spring similar to that of 2009.) He has also expressed reservations about holding an election during the province’s 150th anniversary year in 2020.
“I’ve said, and I’ll keep saying, we’re in a flood-watch situation. We’re keeping our eye on the ball. And as far as spec-election is concerned I’m not engaging in that,” Pallister said Monday.
Lamont told the Free Press he did not receive 100 per cent confirmation from Pallister there would be an election this year. “That certainly seemed to be the implication, though,” he added.
The party leaders said they discussed a variety of topics in their meetings, including the latest spring flooding projections, international trade issues affecting Manitoba, the government’s K-12 education review, election-campaign financing, and projects that can be approached in a non-partisan manner.
Kinew noted it was the first time he had been invited by Pallister to a meeting in his office.
“I think the premier is a bit of a mystery here,” the NDP leader said. “Why would he pick fights with the mayor (of Winnipeg), the prime minister, (former Manitoba Hydro board chairman) Sandy Riley, (former Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp. chairwoman) Polly Craik and then, all of a sudden, try to play nice with the leader of the Opposition right before an election?
“I don’t quite understand that.”
— with files from Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.