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Pallister throws hat in the ring

Glen Hallick, Carman Valley Leader

Former Portage-Lisgar MP Brian Pallister is returning to politics.

Following last fall's provincial election with Hugh McFadyen's decision to step down as Progressive Conservative leader, Pallister made it known he would test the waters for a possible leadership bid.

On Wednesday the one-time MLA for Portage la Prairie announced his intentions to seek the leadership of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party in Winnipeg. The 57-year-old Portage-born Pallister is the first candidate in the race.

"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, the high school teacher turned chartered financial advisor won the PC nomination and went to serve the constituency from until 1997. Pallister 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.

While back in private life, Pallister made his first foray in a leadership race when he sought to succeed Jean Charest as the federal Tory leader. Having campaigned on merging the Reform and PCs he finished fourth on the first ballot.

Next, as the Canadian Alliance candidate in the 2000 federal election Pallister won Portage-Lisgar by more than 11,000 votes. He increased his pluralities in the 2003 and 2006 elections.

Shortly after the latter election, Pallister publicly announced he didn't want to be appointed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new cabinet. At the time the Portage-Lisgar MP was considering a leadership bid for the provincial Tories, but eventually chose not to run.

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 Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen and Morris MLA Mavis Taillieu, along with Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen, Riding Mountain MLA Leanne Rowat, and Charleswood MLA Myrna Driedger.

For more information on Pallister's leadership campaign go to And the provincial Tories' leadership race see

A party spokesperson acknowledged Pallister for throwing his hat in the ring.

"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 in a prepared statement. "I know Brian and his team will compete hard and I wish them the best of luck on the campaign trail."

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

But several prominent provincial and federal Tories declined to run, including Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge, St. Boniface MP Shelly Glover, and Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen.

Prospective candidates have until July 28 to file for nomination, which includes an applications, background checks, an interview, and selling at least 1,000 party memberships.

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)