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Pallister to unveil '100-day game plan' for government departments, Crown corporations

Says there's more room to trim at Hydro

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Manitoba PC Leader Brian Pallister invites the media into his office in the legislative building a day after winning a second straight majority government to announce he will soon unveil a "100-day game plan" outlining a number of new and continuing initiatives.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba PC Leader Brian Pallister invites the media into his office in the legislative building a day after winning a second straight majority government to announce he will soon unveil a "100-day game plan" outlining a number of new and continuing initiatives.

Promising an ambitious fall agenda, Brian Pallister says he's negotiating with the Opposition NDP to reconvene the legislature this month.

"What I'd prefer to see is that we come back sooner rather than later," Pallister told reporters on Wednesday, a day after winning a second majority government.

The premier said he will unveil a "100-day game plan" next Wednesday for government departments, Crown corporations and other government entities.

"There's a variety of projects that we have underway that I want to move ahead on ambitiously," he said.

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Promising an ambitious fall agenda, Brian Pallister says he's negotiating with the Opposition NDP to reconvene the legislature this month.

"What I'd prefer to see is that we come back sooner rather than later," Pallister told reporters on Wednesday, a day after winning a second majority government.

Future up in the air for Wowchuk

Rick Wowchuk's future as a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus is up in the air after he was re-elected by more than a two-to-one margin over his closest competitor in Tuesday's election.

Rick Wowchuk's future as a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus is up in the air after he was re-elected by more than a two-to-one margin over his closest competitor in Tuesday's election.

As first reported by CBC last week, Wowchuk (who represents Swan River) was found to have breached the legislative assembly's respectful workplace policy five times in an internal investigation.

One of his former constituency assistants allegedly flagged 65 issues with Wowchuk, five of which were found to have merit. One incident included Wowchuk allegedly asking if she wanted to see a photo of "hard-working beavers," then showing her a picture of naked women wearing hard hats and holding chainsaws.

Wowchuk issued a statement apologizing for his actions last week and noting he had undergone "workplace sensitivity training," which he said he found "extremely valuable."

Asked Wednesday whether Wowchuk would stay on with the PC caucus, Premier Brian Pallister said the decision wasn't his to make.

"That'll be a caucus decision and that decision will be reached by caucus and reported back to you," he said.

A spokesperson later said the next PC caucus meeting will happen within the next two weeks.

Asked whether he personally wanted to see Wowchuk removed, Pallister deferred again.

"I'm not trying to prejudice the decision of caucus. A caucus membership is a decision caucus should make, not the leader."

Calls to Wowchuk's home were answered by a woman who would not take a message for him Wednesday.

– Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

The premier said he will unveil a "100-day game plan" next Wednesday for government departments, Crown corporations and other government entities.

"There's a variety of projects that we have underway that I want to move ahead on ambitiously," he said.

He said he will issue new mandate letters to all government departments and Crown corporations in the coming week.

Saying he is concerned about "increased criminal activity," Pallister also said he will request that the Manitoba Police Commission provide recommendations to government on how to make downtown Winnipeg safer.

He also said the government will host a job summit on Oct. 3 that will kickstart a Progressive Conservative campaign promise to create 40,000 person years of employment within four years.

Appearing relaxed as he fielded reporters' questions on a wide variety of topics for close to 20 minutes, Pallister would not say when he would name a new cabinet or replace Crown Services Minister Colleen Mayer, who lost her St. Vital seat on Tuesday.

"You'll be the first to know," he said.

He said negotiations are underway with the NDP on the date for reconvening the legislature. There is still leftover business from the previous legislature to deal with, including passage of the 2019 budget.

Once that's dealt with, there will likely be a break and then a throne speech, the premier said.

Before the election was called, MLAs were scheduled to resume sitting on Oct. 2.

Asked about a PC campaign promise to order further cuts in management positions in government organizations, Pallister said Crown corporations, such as Manitoba Hydro, would not be immune from such measures even though they had complied with similar orders in the past.

"Knowing Brian Pallister's record on honouring agreements it's no surprise to see him renege on this issue, but the Manitobans I know believe a deal is a deal." — NDP Leader Wab Kinew

Recently, Hydro president and CEO Jay Grewal sent a memo to her staff seeking to assure them that they should not fear a new round of mandated cuts.

But Pallister said Wednesday that there's more room to trim at the top at Hydro. "Yeah, absolutely. There's no doubt of that," he said.

On another topic, Pallister said his government plans to end future election expense rebates for parties and candidates. This follows recent amendments to reduce such rebates that were agreed to by the government and the Opposition.

"Knowing Brian Pallister's record on honouring agreements it's no surprise to see him renege on this issue, but the Manitobans I know believe a deal is a deal," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said in a statement responding to the rebate issue.

Meanwhile, Pallister didn't directly respond to a question Wednesday about whether he plans to serve out a full four-year term.

There's been speculation that he will retire before his term is up, once the budget is balanced.

"I'm pretty healthy. I enjoy this job. I have never been more enthused at the prospects of making a difference. That's why I got into public life in the first place...," he said.

He dismissed the issue as idle speculation among political columnists.

"If you've got a source that says I'm leaving, tell me about it," the premier said. "I'm interested in knowing who's saying it because it's not me."

— with files from Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

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.

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