Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/7/2012 (3420 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THERE'S a tall, new figure set to shake up the province's political landscape, but most Manitobans can be forgiven if they're caught unawares.
At 5 p.m., on Saturday, nominations close for the leadership of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party.
And as early as next week -- the Tories haven't announced when -- the former cabinet minister in Gary Filmon's government and Canadian Alliance and Conservative member of Parliament, Brian Pallister, will take over the Tory helm from Hugh McFadyen.
If the news catches Manitobans by surprise, it won't be their fault. Pallister, 58, has faced no challengers. He's held few high-profile events. So he hasn't been in the news much.
A fall leadership convention -- and all the excitement that would have come with it -- will never happen.
Several prominent Tories, including MLAs Kelvin Goertzen and Heather Stefanson and Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge, gave the provincial leadership some thought, then bowed out. For several months, it's been Pallister's job for the taking.
Without any challengers, the imposing 6-8 insurance and financial investment firm owner has operated below the political radar, especially in Winnipeg.
Several observers interviewed this week said the lack of publicity in the search for a new Tory leader is hardly good news for a party that hasn't tasted power since 1999. But neither is it a death knell.
"I don't think that this is good for the public's perception of the party," said Brandon University political scientist Kelly Saunders. "The party needs to reach out to more Manitobans; it needs to create that excitement, that buzz, particularly among Winnipeggers."
On the bright side, though, the PCs will avoid the nasty internal divisions that can occur in a highly contested leadership race, she said. And, since an election won't be held any earlier than October 2015 and as late as the spring of 2016 under the province's election laws, Pallister has lots of time to become better acquainted with the public.
For University of Winnipeg political scientist Allen Mills, the non-race for the Tory leadership reflects "a real dearth of talent" in the party.
He said there's also a "sort of small-town view of Manitoba" emanating from those benches, because the party is so dependent on rural areas for most of its 19 seats. It's prevented the Tories from being able to present a "dynamic alternative" to the Selinger government, Mills said.
Pallister, who lived much of his life near Portage la Prairie, where he owns his business, recently moved to Charleswood. He will likely run in Fort Whyte, McFadyen's seat, when a byelection is called. McFadyen will formally resign his seat on July 30.
Pallister did not respond to interview requests. Perhaps he did not want to make assumptions about his future before Saturday's nomination deadline.
Retired University of Manitoba political scientist Paul Thomas said Pallister will need to generate some "policy ideas for the 21st century" to appear relevant to the electorate.
"You just can't be a tall, pretty good-looking guy with some political experience. People have to know what he's about and he's got to appeal beyond the core of his party's supporters," Thomas said.
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.