March 28, 2020

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On the campaign trail

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>PC party leader Brian Pallister holds a press conference at Catherine Place Retirement Community in Winnipeg on Friday.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

PC party leader Brian Pallister holds a press conference at Catherine Place Retirement Community in Winnipeg on Friday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/8/2019 (210 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg chamber cancels leaders debate 

It appears the province’s political leaders won’t get another chance to square off in a public debate before Manitobans head to the polls Sept. 10.

On Friday, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce told the Free Press it would be cancelling its Sept. 6 debate because PC Leader Brian Pallister has declined to attend.

The Brandon Chamber of Commerce had recently cancelled its leaders debate, also after Pallister backed out.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to participate due to a full campaign schedule, which next week and on that day, will take us to several different constituencies in rural and northern Manitoba," a PC party spokesperson said by email.

The party offered to send a senior representative in Pallister's place if the Chamber wished to reverse its decision.

Pallister participated in Wednesday's televised leaders debate.

The Tories have been notoriously non-committal for debates, town halls and forums organized by community groups in the lead-up to the election. They have organized their own electronic town halls, which they say have reached tens of thousands of Manitobans, but aren't widely accessible to the public or the media.

NDP post-secondary promises 

JESSICA BOTELHO-URBANSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>NDP Leader Wab Kinew made a series of post-secondary education promises with estimated annual costs around $10 million during a campaign announcement outside Red River College's Exchange District campus Friday.</p>

JESSICA BOTELHO-URBANSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP Leader Wab Kinew made a series of post-secondary education promises with estimated annual costs around $10 million during a campaign announcement outside Red River College's Exchange District campus Friday.

Post-secondary students can expect tuition costs to only rise at the rate of inflation, if the New Democrats are elected to provincial government Sept. 10.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew made a series of post-secondary education promises with estimated annual costs around $10 million during a campaign announcement outside Red River College's Exchange District campus Friday. 

They included a $1-million reinstatement of the needs-based ACCESS bursary program (which the PCs cut); $6 million more for post-secondary institution operating grants; and a $3-million public-private partnership with employers (whom would be asked to chip in another $1.5 million) to pair skilled students with industry jobs.

Kinew said the aim would be to keep post-secondary education affordable, though he wouldn't go so far as freezing tuition costs entirely, as the previous NDP government had.

Under the Tories, post-secondary schools have been allowed to raise tuition costs up to five per cent, plus the cost of inflation. 

"We think that freezing it to inflation makes tuition affordable," Kinew said. "There's an affordability guarantee there, but it also preserves us enough resources so that we can make sure that when you do show up and get your degree or your certification from a college, that it's going to be quality." 

In an emailed statement, Tory MLA and Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen touted Manitoba's affordable tuition levels and the government's investments in scholarships and bursaries to the tune of $6.75 million since taking office in 2016.

"Our party legislated the lowest tuition in Western Canada and invested in more supports for students than the NDP ever did," he said. 

Tories complain about Unifor — again

The Progressive Conservatives have filed a second complaint about union activity with Manitoba's elections commissioner within a week.

In a news release Friday, the PCs reiterated their complaint about Unifor's outdoor advertising and direct-mail campaign violating third-party election spending limits of $25,000. A Unifor spokesperson previously told The Canadian Press the allegation was a "laughable distraction" and "untrue." 

The Tories are also alleging the Manitoba Federation of Labour violated election law by engaging in a direct-mail campaign "that uses identical language to that of Unifor" and not registering as a third-party with Elections Manitoba. 

The federation rebutted its direct-mail campaign does not violate the Election Financing Act nor require it to register as a third party. Section 82 of the act exempts letters from third-party advertising spending.

"As it was Brian Pallister and his party that made the decision to exempt promotional materials like mail from the provisions of the act, he and his campaign team either do not understand the changes they made or they are deliberately misleading Manitobans," MFL president Kevin Rebeck said in an emailed statement.

Pallister makes his case to seniors 

PC Leader Brian Pallister said Friday his party is doing more than his opponents to make life affordable for seniors.

Pallister invited the media to a St. Boniface seniors complex in the morning, but announced no new programs nor made election promises. Instead, he reviewed how PC policies and previous campaign announcements would lower living costs for seniors.

With the party scheduled to reveal its fully-costed platform Tuesday, the event was a sign the Progressive Conservatives may have now revealed all their significant campaign promises — or at least those with a substantial dollar figure.

"We know the NDP wants to raise taxes and make life more expensive, but the PC party is the only party that understands how important it is for seniors to be financially secure and to feel safe where they live," Pallister said.

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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