News Manitoba

Pallister first to enter Tory leadership race

Brian Pallister is the first to throw his hat into the Tory leadership ring.

Brian Pallister is the first to throw his hat into the Tory leadership ring.

By Glen Hallick

The Valley Leader

Brian Pallister is returning to politics.

The former Portage-Lisgar MP announced Wednesday that he wants to take over the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party from Hugh McFadyen who decided to step down following the party's disappointing showing in last fall's general election.

"Manitoba is at a crossroads. Another four years of NDP mismanagement will leave Manitoba far behind other provinces. Our province has great potential, great resources, and great people. The future requires leadership. It's time to say "no" to complacency. It's time to aim higher. Manitoba needs new leadership to hold the NDP accountable and I plan to be that leader," he said in a prepared statement.

"It will be my clear mandate in this campaign to demonstrate that I can take the PC Party of Manitoba to the next level and form government in 2015. I am ready to lead, ready to build a better Manitoba, and ready to win the leadership of our great party," he added.

With the resignation of Portage MLA Ed Connery in 1992, Pallister sought and won the PC nomination and went on to serve the constituency from until 1997. He was the Minister of Government Services from 1995 to 1997 in Gary Filmon's government.

From there, Pallister left provincial politics and became the federal Tory candidate for the newly created constituency Portage-Lisgar. But he narrowly lost to incumbent Reform MP Jake Hoeppner.

As the Canadian Alliance candidate in the 2000 federal election Pallister won Portage-Lisgar by more than 11,000 votes and was re-elected with increased pluralities in the 2003 and 2006 elections.

Pallister left federal politics in 2008, returned to financial planning, and now resides in Winnipeg with his wife and two children.

Pallister has received endorsements from a number of Tory MLAs, including Blaine Pedersen (Midland), Mavis Taillieu (Morris), Cameron Friesen (Morden-Winkler), Ian Wishart (Portage), Leanne Rowat (Riding Mountain), and Myrna Driedger (Charleswood).

A party spokesperson welcomed Pallister's announcement.

"I want to congratulate Brian on completing the certification process and officially welcome him to the leadership race," Manitoba PC Leadership Election Committee chair Ken Lee said. "I know Brian and his team will compete hard and I wish them the best of luck on the campaign trail."

Winnipeg city councillor Scott Fielding has indicated he's seriously considering running for the leadership as well.

Manitoba Tories will elect their new leader Oct. 27. The winner will be the party's third leader in 12 years.

(with files from Ross Romaniuk, QMI Agency)