Who is Brian Pallister? 10 facts about Manitoba's premier-elect
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, April 19, 2016 10:06PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 19, 2016 10:41PM EDT
The Progressive Conservative leader elected to be Manitoba’s next premier is a sporty businessman with a history of controversial comments and a distaste for taxes.
Here are 10 things Canadians should know about Brian Pallister.
1. A long-time advocate of cutting taxes, Pallister has promised to drop the PST back to seven per cent by the end of its first term, after Premier Greg Selinger angered many by breaking a promise not to raise the tax.
2. Pallister is an advocate for open government. His proposals include giving the conflict-of-interest commissioner more powers, expanding freedom-of-information laws, having the auditor general review government ads to make sure they’re non-partisan, and publishing the amount of severance paid to political staff.
3. He’s 6’8” tall and very athletic, having travelled as far as New Zealand to compete in a fastball tournament. These days his main sport is curling. He also recently cycled across Manitoba.
4. During a 2014 debate, Pallister went on at length about why he hates Halloween. He said that it wasn’t fun for him as a child, because he was so tall, and that he doesn’t think trick-or-treating is “good for the integrity of the kids.”
5. Pallister worked as a high school teacher from 1976 to 1979 and served as a union rep. His other jobs have included caretaker, financial analyst and insurance salesman. He became a provincial MLA in 1992 and went on to serve as Minister of Government Services in the last Manitoba PC government before the NDP took over in 1999. He was elected as a federal Canadian Alliance MP in 2000 and re-elected as a Conservative MP in 2004 and 2006.
6. As Stephen Harper’s Indian Affairs Critic, Pallister railed against “power hungry chiefs.” He faced accusations of racism after a 2005 budget debate he blasted the federal Liberals for “asking Canadians to spend more on expensive canvas and paint every year but the expensive veneer of caring hides the reality of welfare and drug addicted Indian reserves…”
7. Pallister has changed his position on LGBT rights. He opposed gay marriage with a passionate speech in the House in 2005, during which he invoked suffragist Nellie McClung, whom he said “would have abhorred the thought that the price for attaining equal suffrage was the loss of her distinct status as a woman.” He also referenced The Beatles, stating “Lennon and McCartney were wrong. Love is not all we need. We need wisdom too.” Last month, he told The Canadian Press that he is “not adverse” to marching in Winnipeg’s Pride parade. He said his past comments on same-sex marriage were part of a “healthy debate” that has since concluded.
8. In 2013, he said that he “wanted to wish everyone a really, really Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah,” adding, “all you infidel atheists out there, I want to wish you the very best also. I don't know what you celebrate during the holiday season. I, myself, celebrate the birth of Christ but it’s your choice and I respect your choice. If you wish to celebrate nothing and just get together with friends, that’s good too.”
9. Pallister owns properties and holding companies in Costa Rica, where he’s spent a total of 240 days since he was elected to the provincial legislature. He said he works on Manitoba issues while he’s not in Manitoba.
10. Pallister was born in 1954 on a farm outside Portage la Prairie. In a 2005 house debate over a farming bill, he said his family had farmed for five generations.