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Close-hospitals idea publicity ploy: Grit

Latest problem for Bokhari, Liberals

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/3/2016 (1084 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Liberal candidate who advocated for closing hospitals at a recent Brandon debate said it was all part of a ploy to generate media attention.

Brandon West Liberal candidate Billy Moore said Thursday his comments were part of a ruse designed to generate publicity.

“What I said (at the debate) was to get publicity in Brandon West,” Moore said. “I cannot stand by what I said... except to thank people for the comments and publicity which I received, which I was looking for. Now, I can talk to them about health care, and I’m 100 per cent supportive of health care.”

Responding to a question Wednesday on whether his party would commit to core funding for the Manitoba Metis Foundation to pursue an integrated health approach, Moore said: “There are too many hospitals, and consequently the cost of it, a wait time is very long. Now, if we can eliminate some hospitals in Manitoba, people won’t want to get sick because they have nowhere to go — they will want to stay healthy and work, and that’s where the health comes in.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/3/2016 (1084 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Liberal candidate who advocated for closing hospitals at a recent Brandon debate said it was all part of a ploy to generate media attention.

Brandon West Liberal candidate Billy Moore said Thursday his comments were part of a ruse designed to generate publicity.

"What I said (at the debate) was to get publicity in Brandon West," Moore said. "I cannot stand by what I said... except to thank people for the comments and publicity which I received, which I was looking for. Now, I can talk to them about health care, and I’m 100 per cent supportive of health care."

Responding to a question Wednesday on whether his party would commit to core funding for the Manitoba Metis Foundation to pursue an integrated health approach, Moore said: "There are too many hospitals, and consequently the cost of it, a wait time is very long. Now, if we can eliminate some hospitals in Manitoba, people won’t want to get sick because they have nowhere to go — they will want to stay healthy and work, and that’s where the health comes in."

Less than 24 hours later, he retracted those statements.

"We cannot close hospitals," Moore said. "The population is exploding so we need health-care institutions whereby people can be treated."

Manitoba Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said Thursday she is sticking with Moore despite his controversial remarks.

At an announcement in Niverville Thursday, Bokhari claimed Moore’s comments were misunderstood.

"What he was trying to say was if we focus on preventive measures, so people don’t have to use hospitals, we won’t use that many," she said.

Bokhari reiterated her party’s platform does not include closing hospitals.

Moore, 76, said his papers were approved by Elections Manitoba with only 21/2 hours to spare before Tuesday’s deadline. Bokhari said she is not responsible for vetting candidates.

"He is passionate," she said. "Frankly, Manitobans don’t want stuffy talking points, by-the-book, suit-and-tie candidates — they want people who are passionate."

When asked whether Moore would be allowed to continue to speak his mind, Bokhari replied, "I am not Brian Pallister. Yes, he will be allowed to speak his mind."

The seat is currently held by Progressive Conservative candidate Reg Helwer. Linda Ross is running for the NDP.

TOM BATEMAN / THE BRANDON SUN</p><p>Billy Moore, Liberal candidate for Brandon West.</p>

TOM BATEMAN / THE BRANDON SUN

Billy Moore, Liberal candidate for Brandon West.

Helwer, who was at the debate, said he disagrees with Moore’s comments.

"I deplore the comments about closing hospitals made at (Wednesday’s) debate," Helwer said. "These comments from my Liberal opponent also underscore the Selinger NDP record of closing over 20 emergency rooms across Manitoba."

Helwer, who was first elected in 2011, said Manitobans are paying more and getting less under the NDP government.

"In fact, 2,300 doctors have fled since 1999 under the NDP, and Manitoba has the worst record for doctor retention in the country," he said. "We can also never forget the NDP promised to fix hallway medicine and failed to do so, giving us highway medicine where too many patients have to leave the province to get needed help. And now my Liberal opponent’s plan would build on that failed record."

Helwer said a PC government, if elected, will enhance access to health-care services, investing $160 million over eight years to increase the number of personal care home beds in the province by 1,200.

"We will establish an improved doctor-recruitment and retention program with a goal to have the most improved retention rates in our first term, a stark contrast with my Liberal opponent’s belief that we need to close hospitals and the NDP record of closing emergency rooms," Helwer added. "As I’ve said since day one of the campaign, NDP waste is threatening essential front-line services, and now my Liberal opponent wants to join them in making access to health-care services even worse."

The NDP’s Ross, who was also at the debate, said she was shocked when Moore made his comments.

"Families need to be very concerned about these kinds of statements," Ross said. "The Liberals saying they’re going to close hospitals and, of course, (PC Leader Brian) Pallister saying he’s going to cut half a billion out of the budget that only hurts services to families."

The New Democrats are committed to increasing services, including community-based care, said Ross.

"We can’t close hospitals," Ross said. "Everyone knows we need more health services not fewer.

"There are still problems," she said. "There have been improvements in wait times for various services... not to say there isn’t room for more improvement, but you just keep chipping away at it one day at a time, and you make progress gradually. You can’t solve these problems overnight."

The fallout from Moore’s remarks is the latest in a series of mishaps for the party. The Liberal candidate in Gimli, Joanne Levy, had her nomination revoked by Elections Manitoba after the NDP complained Levy had worked as an enumerator in another constituency before filing her papers.

The Liberals lost candidates in the Arthur-Virden, Lac du Bonnet and Agassiz ridings for using post office box numbers rather than residential addresses for some voters who had signed nomination papers. The Lakeside candidate did not turn in papers by Tuesday’s 1 p.m. deadline.

Meanwhile, Bokhari announced at the news conference in Niverville her party would remove the $5,000 cap on school taxes on farmland.

Farmers are currently eligible for an 80 per cent rebate on school taxes up to $5,000.

The pledge would cost the government about $8 million and would be implemented in the party’s second year in office.

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.cactweed@brandonsun.com

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History

Updated on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 12:52 PM CDT: Writethrough, includes comments from Bokhari

3:46 PM: Adds video, sidebar.

5:02 PM: Copy fixes

7:41 PM: writethrough

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