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This article was published 9/8/2012 (3282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba's newest political leader wants to use the Sept. 4 byelection in Fort Whyte as a test run for his push to become the province's next premier in 2016.
Newly minted Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister, nominated Wednesday to be the party's candidate in Fort Whyte, said he wants to steal a page from the rival NDP to help the PCs win office in four years.
"The NDP is not good at governing, but they're good at campaigns," Pallister said. "One of the things they do very well is that they transport labour into the ridings that they want to win. That's what the PC Party has to get better at. We have to get better at targeting the areas that we need to win. We have to get better at being mobile on our labour and our volunteers."
Pallister, who won his leadership last month by acclamation, said he wants to use these methods in Fort Whyte as a template in advance of the next general election on April 19, 2016.
"We have to get better at supporting people in other ridings," he said. "I'm not talking about a new concept here. I'm talking about the level of engagement. My goal would be to have 'walk teams' go to every riding. Canvass is where it's at."
The Tories thought they had the last election in the bag and would form the government, but a combination of bad polling and unrealistic expectations saw them win only 19 seats, the same number they held at the start of the campaign.
Pallister also said the main challenge for all candidates in Fort Whyte is capturing the attention of voters during the dying days of summer holidays.
The NDP have nominated Brandy Schmidt, the community engagement manager for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada in Manitoba, and the Liberals have picked Bob Axworthy, the younger brother of Lloyd Axworthy, as their candidates.
The area's last MLA was former Progressive Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen, who resigned last month.
"I'm a curler. The ice is the same for both teams. I understand that," Pallister said. "Byelections are a hard time to get people engaged in politics anyway. When you put it on the first day back to school, the day after the September long weekend, it's pretty clear you're trying to gain a tactical advantage.
"I'm disappointed, because I do think it would have been better to give the people of Fort Whyte a chance to get engaged in it, too. I don't think anybody is going to predict a high voter turnout because the consequences of this timing are real for people. There are a lot of people away."
Elections Manitoba says residents on the voters list in Fort Whyte for the Oct. 4, 2011, general election should receive an enumeration card in their mailbox by today, telling them where and when they can vote. If you don't get an enumeration card, call the returning office at 204-948-0512.
Elections Manitoba revising agents will visit homes in newer areas of Fort Whyte to add voters to the list.
Advance voting runs Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.
MANITOBA'S Progressive Conservatives have a new bullpen, one of the first changes ushered in by the new leader Brian Pallister.
Charleswood MLA Myrna Driedger becomes the deputy leader.
Morris MLA Mavis Taillieu becomes caucus whip.
Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen becomes caucus chair, replacing Lakeside MLA Ralph Eichler.
Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen becomes house leader.
Driedger, Taillieu and Goertzen changed hats from the positions each held under former leader Hugh McFadyen, Pallister said Thursday.
Veteran River East MLA Bonnie Mitchelson is to be involved in a planning and priorities committee Pallister created to look at ways to rebuild the party.