Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/7/2012 (3290 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
At six-foot-eight, Brian Pallister might be described as a long drink, which in turn might raise the question of whether he begins his tenure as leader of the Manitoba Conservative party with his tall glass half empty, or half full.
In recent months, the punditry has been mostly focused on half-empty scenarios. That he was the lone horse in the race to replace Hugh McFadyen as leader was taken to be a sign that it was a job nobody wanted because it likely would prove thankless. Possible contenders had young families that required more attention than the position allows, it was said, or they were happier to be part of the federal government than they would be leading an opposition party that needed to win in Winnipeg, where the NDP apparently has sunk roots as deep, as stubborn and as ubiquitous as dandelions. That Mr. Pallister stood alone for the leadership, it was said, robbed the party of an opportunity to sign up new members to support different candidates, and eliminated the media attention a horse race and leadership convention attracts.
All true, as far as it goes.
On the other hand, it could be that once Mr. Pallister declared his intention in April, other potential contenders decided he was the right candidate, that he hadn't become a tired name in Manitoba or a federal politician seeking to reverse a small-fish-in-a-big pond status that comes with a seat on the back benches. Ironically, the latter was what many charged six years ago when Mr. Pallister toyed with the idea of competing with Mr. McFadyen for the leadership after Stuart Murray was, in effect, dumped by the PC rank and file late in 2005.
That there was no race means Mr. Pallister has not been bruised by political combat, nor has he alienated anyone inside the party or, perhaps more important, outside it either.
He is a "rural" conservative with 13 years of elected experience in provincial and federal politics representing voters in the Portage la Prairie district. That frees him in no small measure to concentrate on Winnipeg voters, first by seeking election, likely in the Fort Whyte riding where Mr. McFadyen has stepped down.
Three years might be a long time until the next election, but it is not that much time to reestablish the Conservative brand, and it is nothing compared to the 11 years Gary Doer waited before snatching power from the last Conservative government, which, like the current administration, had grown long in the tooth.
At his first press conference as leader on Monday, Mr. Pallister repeatedly made the case that his glass is half full. Which is not a bad place to start.