Premier-designate Brian Pallister says he will name a cabinet in two to three weeks and convene the legislature within three to four weeks.

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Premier-designate Brian Pallister says he will name a cabinet in two to three weeks and convene the legislature within three to four weeks.

At a news conference Wednesday, Pallister also announced there would be a spring budget. He said the legislative session could last into the summer, but that would be determined in consultation with the opposition.

Pallister, who led his party to a historic 40-seat victory Tuesday, is putting together a transition team to work out an orderly transfer of power. The team, still being assembled, will be led by Eric Stefanson, a chartered accountant and former cabinet minister under Gary Filmon.

Asked when he would receive the keys to the premier’s office, Pallister said that will depend on how long the transition process takes.

"I’ve been briefed on this, and I’m told that it will be sooner rather than later," the Fort Whyte MLA said.

After his news conference, Pallister participated in a photo opportunity with Premier Greg Selinger and later had a brief tête-à-tête with the man he will succeed. The two apparently agreed on a power-transfer date, but Selinger said he would not disclose the information. That would be up to Pallister to announce, he said.

"Normal transitions are about two weeks, so it is in that time zone for sure," Selinger said after the meeting.

He then walked over to Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon’s office with a letter offering his government’s resignation.

In a news conference on the south lawn of the legislative building, Pallister said while gender parity in cabinet is a "worthy goal," he could not guarantee it in the short term because he only has two returning female MLAs.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Premier-elect Brian Pallister speaks to media Wednesday afternoon.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Premier-elect Brian Pallister speaks to media Wednesday afternoon.

"I recognize the ultimate goal," Pallister said of gender parity, "and I share that goal. As the father of two daughters I believe that they should have equal opportunity in life, but they should also understand that merit is what matters most, and they should earn their way on that basis."

In answer to another question, Pallister said he is sorry if any of his past comments on gay and lesbian relationships have offended people. He once called same-sex marriage a "social experiment."

"I want to earn the trust and respect of all Manitobans, and I will endeavour to do my best to do that," he said. "If (I’ve) offended anyone in the past I would ask for their forgiveness, and I would ask for their support and encouragement."

In answer to a question posed in French, Pallister spoke the language briefly and promised to brush up on it.

Pallister said getting the province on a healthier fiscal track is one of this priorities. Every year but one under the NDP, in office since 1999, spending exceeded what was budgeted, he said. Balancing the books is important if front-line services are to be protected, he said, although he stressed it would be a gradual process.

"The fiscal situation is very serious. It needs to be addressed. So this is top of mind for me."

A question on the timing of making good on a promise to fold the East Side Road Authority into Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation sparked a lighter moment.

"Yesterday I said that we would walk out in the morning of April 20 and the sky would be blue, and it wasn’t blue," he joked, referring to the overcast skies. "I’ve already broken (a promise)… so I don’t want to do it again.

"I want to get the facts and give you a straight answer."

— with files from Kristin Annable

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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