Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/4/2016 (1301 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was the kind of speech, the kind of personable presence, that might have made us wonder where and why Brian Pallister had been hiding out when he was the Opposition leader.
If we didn’t already know how he got his nickname, Captain Costa Rica.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday, in the high of that long-awaited winning moment, premier-designate Brian Pallister opened his joyous — and, yes, gracious — election night speech with an optimistic reference to the tomorrow of a province returned to a Progressive Conservative government.
"And tomorrow," he said, "all Manitobans are going to walk out into a beautiful spring morning. And they’re going to look up. And the sky’s going to be Blue."
It was an irresistible mixed metaphor.
Symbolic of the future under the Tory's agenda.
But the grey sky that Winnipeggers actually woke up to was symbolic, too.
As Pallister’s people get beyond the next couple of weeks of transition into office, the reality, versus the rhetoric, is about to dawn on Pallister in a way the view from outside never can for a party that’s been in Opposition for nearly 17 years.
And, in reality, there is little blue on the horizon.
Or little green, for that matter.
Not with a debt of monumental proportions in a province with a large, aging population in need of more and more care, and a fast growing number of young First Nations youth in need of improved education and job prospects.
The indigenous file, in particular, promises to be problematic in the extreme for Pallister, as it was for outgoing premier Greg Selinger.
It's not as if Pallister doesn't have a plan and an agenda.
He intends to build more personal care homes.
He intends to send Manitoba Hydro's Bipole III project to the Public Utilities Board for a review, which — if it takes a year — could increase the cost of the build by between $200 and $250 million. Assuming the build goes ahead. I'm not sure there's a cost-saving in any of that, but it looks good to his political base.
After all, his basic agenda is lower taxes and better services, according to what I gathered from the speech and the election campaign. Again, that sounds more like rhetoric than reality, but, it's early and we can all dream, can't we?
Mind you, there is hope for more tax dollars from a fresh source.
Coincidentally, this week the federal Liberals announced that come next spring they will introduce legislation on the legalization of marijuana — from which Pallister may stand to profit. But will he choose to do it through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, the direction the NDP was going? Or will he turn pot stores private? Pallister hasn't said yet, and maybe he hasn't decided and won't until all the evidence and alternatives are considered.
Anyway, I'm hoping for the best for the Pallister government, because that would be best for all of us.
But I'm not as optimistic as Captain Costa Rica.
For example, in his speech, after talking about being a government that will find and eliminate waste, overlaps and duplication, Pallister turned to a somewhat surprising reference.
Trust and transparency.
"We will advance an open-government program," he said on election night, "that will put Manitoba in the forefront of the most transparent and ethical governments in the world."
He referred more specifically to an open-tendering process. And improving access to information.
That may well be Brian Pallister's intention, a laudable one at that, but over time governments tend to take more black markers to documents as they have more to hide, just as Pallister accused the Selinger government of doing. And just as he basically did in Opposition while hiding out for so long in Costa Rica. Then, when he should have been doing his job as the PC leader and showing up during Manitoba's summer flooding in 2014, he told those who asked that he was at a family wedding in Alberta when he was really at his future retirement home in Costa Rica.
In the end, the late-breaking news of Pallister's lack of transparency and the personal trust it compromises didn't matter. Such was the voters' rage with the Selinger government and their intention to give the NDP the boot.
But it matters now that Pallister is about to become the premier who preaches trust and transparency.
Oh, by the way, as far as I'm concerned, the honeymoon is already over for Brian Pallister. And, hopefully, the vacations in hiding are over for Captain Costa Rica, too.
Updated on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 11:30 PM CDT: Corrects typo.