News from the Manitoba Legislature

April 25, 2016:PREMIER-DESIGNATE PALLISTER ANNOUNCES TRANSITION TEAM
April 25, 2016:PROVINCE ADVISES OUTFLOWS INCREASED FROM SHELLMOUTH RESERVOIR TO MAKE ROOM FOR FORECASTED RUNOFF
April 25, 2016:PREMIER-DESIGNATE PALLISTER ANNOUNCES CLERK OF EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
April 25, 2016:Tories will end spotlight hunting
April 25, 2016:PCs make energy efficiency an important pillar of green strategy
April 25, 2016:Legislation to end vote tax will be introduced first session under new PC government
January 25, 2016:Selinger NDP guarantees tax hikes and front-line service cuts
View the full list of Wayne's News from the Legislature

PREMIER-DESIGNATE PALLISTER ANNOUNCES TRANSITION TEAM

April 22, 2016 – Premier-designate Pallister today announced the team that will facilitate the transition to a new Progressive Conservative government.

“This diverse team brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership that will enable us to deliver a strong new government ready to work for all Manitobans,” said Premier-designate Pallister.

Members of the Premier-designate’s transition team are:
Eric Stefanson, Chair
Brian Manning
Jonathan Scarth
Rich Mantey
Mike Richards
Olivia Baldwin-Valainis
Philip Houde
James White

PROVINCE ADVISES OUTFLOWS INCREASED FROM SHELLMOUTH RESERVOIR TO MAKE ROOM FOR FORECASTED RUNOFF

The Hydrologic Forecast Centre of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation advises that based on latest inflow forecasts, outflows from the Shellmouth Reservoir will be increased down the Assiniboine River to better manage reservoir water levels.

April 21, 2016 – Outflow from the dam will be increased tomorrow from the present flow of approximately 1,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) in two stages up to 3,000 cfs.  This will result in a water level increase of about two to three feet between the Shellmouth Dam and St. Lazare.  This may be affected by other streams that flow into the Assiniboine River downstream of the dam.  The higher outflows will result in some overbank flooding along the upper Assiniboine River and will result in some flooding of agricultural land between the reservoir and St. Lazare.
Based on current forecasted weather conditions, the highest water level between the dam and Brandon is expected in the first week of May.

Without the dam, flows on the Assiniboine River in the vicinity of the dam would be significantly higher at approximately 10,300 cfs.

The operating guidelines for Shellmouth Dam and Reservoir call for outflows to be increased to keep water levels from exceeding the top of the reservoir spillway.  Higher outflows now will slow the rate at which the reservoir water level is rising and preserve storage space on the reservoir for the growing season.  The additional space also allows the dam and reservoir to be used to capture runoff from summer storms and to prevent potential flooding later in the year during the growing season.

The Shellmouth Dam and Reservoir are operated in consultation with the Shellmouth Reservoir Regulation Liaison Committee.  The committee has been meeting on a regular basis to discuss and advise on operations.

PREMIER-DESIGNATE PALLISTER ANNOUNCES CLERK OF EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

April 21, 2016 – Premier-designate Pallister today announced the continuation of Donna J Miller, Q.C. in her role as clerk of the executive council, the province’s highest-ranking civil servant.

Miller assumed the role of clerk of executive council on October 1, 2015. Prior to that, she served as deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Manitoba.

“I look forward to working with Ms. Miller as we move from the transition period into the operation of a new government,” Premier-designate Pallister said. “Her steady hand and wealth of experience are integral to ensuring the values of Manitobans are reflected in the actions of government.”

An announcement regarding deputy ministers will be made in the coming weeks.

“Our new Progressive Conservative government looks forward to partnering with Manitoba’s qualified civil servants to build a better Manitoba for all Manitobans.”

Tories will end spotlight hunting

Conservation and public safety at stake: Pallister

March 4, 2016 – A Progressive Conservative government will work in partnership with indigenous people, non-indigenous people and other stakeholders to put an end to spotlight hunting for all Manitobans.

“This is a conservation issue. It’s about respecting our relationship with nature and protecting it for future generations,” said PC Leader Brian Pallister. “It’s time this practice stopped.”

Animals are mesmerized by the lights and will stand for extended periods of time – much longer than during the day. They are transfixed by the light and have nothing even resembling a fair chance.

“Spotlighting is a public safety issue as well. It’s dangerous to people, property and livestock,” Pallister added.
Field officers in Manitoba believe spotlight hunting occurrences are increasing. A PC government will consider increasing resources (whether equipment or staff) so they can effectively perform their duties.

PCs make energy efficiency an important pillar of green strategy

PC plan will curb Hydro rate increases, return Manitoba to its position as green leader: Pallister

March 1, 2016 – The Selinger NDP government’s approach to Manitoba Hydro is reckless and dangerous. It guarantees a focus not on conservation or energy efficiency, but on increasing rates at home while selling power at a loss to Manitoba’s competitors in the U.S. The focus should be on protecting Manitobans.

A Progressive Conservative government will return Manitoba to its place as a leader in energy efficiency and will curb increases in Hydro rates. We will establish an arm’s-length demand-side management agency with a focus on making Manitoba a leader in energy-savings programming.

“The establishment of an arm’s-length body responsible for energy efficiency recognizes an inherent conflict in Manitoba Hydro producing power while also making decisions on energy-savings targets,” said Opposition Leader Brian Pallister. “The result of this conflict is increased Hydro rates, which have risen at more than double the rate of inflation under the Selinger NDP and which are projected to at least double by 2032. We’ll address this for the benefit of rate-paying Manitobans and to create a greener province.”

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) recommended in the spring of 2014 that the government establish an independent entity responsible for developing and implementing demand-side management targets. The Selinger NDP says it has accepted this recommendation, but has taken no action on it in the nearly two years since it was made. Compounding the problem, the NDP has underspent its energy-savings budgets by nearly $50 million since 2013, according to the PUB.

Leaving the NDP and Hydro in charge of these issues is untenable, and guarantees the continuation of the short-sighted approach that gave us the BiPole III transmission line’s costly route through western Manitoba and record increases in Hydro prices for consumers.

Legislation to end vote tax will be introduced first session under new PC government

Legislation would be made effective for 2016 payments: Goertzen

February 4, 2016 – In the first sitting of the legislature a new PC government will introduce legislation to repeal the per-vote subsidy known as the “vote tax.” The legislation would be made effective for any payments applied for or received in 2016.

“We have never accepted and consistently opposed this subsidy,” PC House Leader Kelvin Goertzen said. “Those parties planning to apply for it in 2016 need to know it will be ending. We are providing them notice: if a new PC government is elected, any vote tax money received or applied for in 2016 will need to be refunded to taxpayers.”
The taxpayer-funded subsidy was introduced by the Manitoba NDP in 2008. Since then the NDP and the Liberals have accepted more than $1 million. More than three quarters of the vote tax subsidy paid out since 2012 has gone to the governing NDP.

“Manitobans should not be forced to provide these per vote subsidies to political parties,” Goertzen said. “Every political party has the option of seeking the voluntary support of time or money from Manitobans and that is what they should do. Manitobans are already paying too high a tax burden and they should not be asked to pay for this political party subsidy.”

Goertzen says his party is providing this notice now because political parties will begin filing their annual returns soon and making application for the vote tax subsidy.

Selinger NDP guarantees tax hikes and front-line service cuts

PC plan will focus spending to lower taxes for families and protect front-line services: Pallister

January 22, 2016 – Under the Selinger NDP, Manitobans can expect a credit rating downgrade, more tax hikes and funding diverted from front-line services to pay for growing debt.

“Despite warnings from financial experts and a credit rating downgrade, Manitobans have seen a massive increase in NDP spending promises,” said Opposition Leader Brian Pallister. “Our new Progressive Conservative government will conduct a value-for-money review, eliminate waste, lower taxes for low-income and middle-income Manitobans and protect front-line services for years to come.”

The Selinger NDP’s two-week pre-election spending spree is estimated at $676 million, and since Boxing Day it has reached nearly $750 million – much higher than the $500 million reported. Greg Selinger refuses to attach dollar figures to a number of recent announcements estimated to cost about $250 million. Total NDP pre-election promises since last fall exceed $6 billion.

Following its downgrade of Manitoba’s credit rating last year, Moody’s Investors Service warned of further downgrades if there is “greater accumulation of debt beyond the existing plan.”

Manitoba already holds the title for fastest rise in net debt among all provinces from 2007-08 to 2015-16. According to the NDP’s Q2 financials, the net debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to rise to 31.6 per cent this year, even before accounting for the billions of dollars in new spending announcements.

The NDP has now broken its promise to keep debt manageable and affordable by allowing the ratio to go beyond its own target of “at or around 30 per cent.”

Pallister unveils major boost for strategic infrastructure investment

PC strategic infrastructure plan provides a return for every dollar invested by Manitobans: Pallister

January 19, 2016 – Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister outlined his plan for guaranteed strategic infrastructure investment during his address to the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association and the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association today.

“Strategic infrastructure can and should provide an economic return for Manitoba families and businesses,” said Pallister. “To achieve this, a new PC government will be a focused, sustained and reliable partner for the long-term.”

Pallister announced PC strategic infrastructure investment would exceed that of the current government’s yearly average in their last term. The PC plan commits to long-term, assured and targeted investment of no less than $1 billion per year. This would exceed the NDP’s infrastructure spending over the past four years. The plan would institute return on investment as part of the criteria in choosing projects for our 5 and 10-year plans.

“Too often infrastructure is used to serve short-term political convenience rather than long-term economic necessity; building projects where votes are needed rather than where a road is required,” added Pallister.

“Infrastructure is too important to our future prosperity to be used to buy votes at election time or as a desperate attempt to explain away broken promise tax hikes.”

Selinger’s NDP underspent the infrastructure budget by an average of 28 per cent in every year of its last term with the exception of the year leading up to the election, diverting more than one out of every four dollars promised for roads, bridges and flood mitigation to other departments.

It took almost a full year and a steep drop in the polls before Selinger’s NDP decided their PST tax grab and removal of voting rights had anything to do with strategic infrastructure. Even then, tens of millions collected from the NDP PST hike was diverted from infrastructure to other priorities.

Selinger NDP puts partisan advertising ahead of real action

NDP must disclose how much it’s diverted from conservation to fund its pre-election ads: Martin

January 15, 2016 – Progressive Conservative conservation critic and MLA for Morris, Shannon Martin, today called upon the Selinger NDP to disclose how much money it has diverted from real action on conservation and the green economy to fund an NDP pre-election advertising campaign.

“Manitobans have already been forced to pay more than $1 million for NDP self-promotional partisan ad campaigns,” said Martin. “Manitobans deserve to know how much this latest pre-election ad campaign has taken away from real investments in conservation and building a green economy.”

The NDP has previously spent more than $1 million in taxpayers’ dollars on the partisan Steady Growth, Good Jobs campaign, despite the number of unemployed Manitobans increasing by 13.7 per cent since Greg Selinger became NDP premier in 2009. This represents the biggest increase in unemployment of any Canadian province.

Similarly, the NDP has spent an undisclosed amount of Manitobans’ tax dollars to create the false impression it has taken meaningful action on conservation and the green economy. The reality is greenhouse gas emissions have risen, not fallen under this government and Lake Winnipeg was designated as the world’s most threatened lake in 2013.

“Manitobans are tired of paying more and getting less under Selinger’s NDP,” added Martin. “Earlier this week, PC Leader Brian Pallister announced our Open Government Initiative that introduces real action to eliminate taxpayer-funded partisan advertising. Hard-earned tax dollars should be invested in action – not spent on partisan advertising by political parties.”

If elected, a Brian Pallister PC government would empower the Auditor General to review all taxpayer-paid government advertising.

Pallister government would open doors, open government

Time for accountable, accessible and ethical government: Pallister

January 13, 2016 – Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister would restore public trust in government through a new “Open Government Initiative” with 18 specific action items aimed at ensuring accountability, transparency and genuine, ethical leadership.

“Trust and accountability go hand-in-hand. We will lead by example, commit to the principles and back it up with the legislative teeth required to show Manitobans there will be repercussions for elected officials who take their trust for granted,” said Pallister.

Too often, Manitobans have seen rules broken by MLAs with little or no consequences. The very people who make the laws get away with breaking them. That cannot stand.

When the public trust is broken an explicit mechanism needs to come into effect, ensuring accountability. This must not only happen, but be seen to happen in a most vigourous and transparent way. Open, accessible and ethical government begins with changing the tone at the top and leading by example.

“We’re talking about a dramatic culture change and constant effort,” Pallister said. “Elected officials, independent officers of the legislature and professional public civil servants will need to shoulder this responsibility as a team.”

The culture change will be guided by the principle that government is not owned by elected members of the legislature, but rather by Manitobans. Elected officials are simply the caretakers.

Open government must be truly and easily accessible. And the ethical standard that we establish must be one that is leading and not lagging.