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This article was published 11/4/2012 (3010 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After months of waiting, Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives finally have a leadership candidate in the starting block.
Brian Pallister became the first official candidate on Wednesday. To show he's got some muscle behind him, provincial Tory heavyweights Myrna Driedger and Kelvin Goertzen, who until a few days ago was considered a contender for the top job, were on hand.
"After meeting with him for four hours and asking him lots of tough questions, I became convinced that not only would he be good for the party, he would be even better for the province," Driedger said.
Pallister's election campaign-style launch at The Forks, with his wife Esther and daughters beside him, kicked off what could be a seven-month campaign leading up to the Oct. 27 leadership convention, but only if someone else declares. Otherwise, Pallister will be acclaimed as the new PC leader on July 28, the deadline to enter the race. Winnipeg city councillor Scott Fielding has said he is considering entering the race.
Driedger, the Tory health critic, said Pallister has the political experience and the passion to succeed.
"When tears came to his eyes talking about a personal story or talking about an immigrant taxi-cab driver who was fighting for a better life in this promised land, he won me over," she said. "He really cares passionately about things and that passion is real and it's infectious."
Pallister was a cabinet minister in Gary Filmon's government. He was a Canadian Alliance MP and a federal Tory leadership candidate.
"I think it's important the next leader has political experience," Goertzen said. "He has lots of passion, which comes through to people. And I think he can bridge well between Winnipeg and rural Manitoba."
MLAs Wayne Ewasko, Cameron Friesen, Blaine Pedersen, Leanne Rowat, Mavis Taillieu and Ron Schuler also support Pallister's leadership bid.
The next leader of the Tory party has to get elected. That could be tough as the Selinger government controls the timing of a byelection. Current leader Hugh McFadyen announced his resignation following the Oct. 4 election. His successor is expected to run in his seat, Fort Whyte, once McFadyen steps down.
Proud of his Filmon years
PC leadership candidate Brian Pallister doesn't think his political record in the Filmon government will hurt him, or that the NDP can use it against him as they did against Hugh McFadyen in the last fall's election.
"I think the Filmon government's record was admirable and I think historians will say that was one of the finest governments that Manitoba has been blessed with," Pallister said. "I do think more than that, Manitobans are interested in the future. They're interested in people that can look forward, and if (NDP Premier) Greg Selinger continues to look backward... I wouldn't get in a taxi with somebody who spends three-quarters of their time looking backward. I don't think Manitobans want somebody driving this province that wants to debate the past forever."
Selinger welcomed Pallister.
"I'm just glad there are good people that are considering entering the race. It will help revitalize democracy in Manitoba."
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