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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.”

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.

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.

Selinger NDP ignored public servants to push through Tiger Dams deal

Ombudsman’s findings show NDP has learned nothing from previous civil-service abuses: Goertzen

January 7, 2016 – The Selinger NDP government ignored serious concerns expressed by senior civil servants and ordered a purchase of Tiger Dams to proceed without tender, according to a provincial Ombudsman’s report released today. That report examined the $5-million contract that was spearheaded in 2014 by Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton for Tiger Dams for the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council.

“The Ombudsman’s findings show the Minister was determined to award this contract to a specific vendor and through an untendered contract,” said Opposition house leader Kelvin Goertzen. “This was done with complete disregard to the advice of senior civil servants who were fulfilling their duty to provide expert advice and do what is right for all Manitobans.”

The report finds senior staff in the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation had advised the Minister that there already existed a sufficient inventory of Tiger Dams and that more equipment diversification was needed. The Ombudsman also discovered there appeared to be price irregularities that were unexplainable by department staff. All that advice was ignored as the Minister directed public servants to proceed in recommending the untendered contract to the Treasury Board.

The scope of the Ombudsman’s probe was limited in excluding any considerations of ministerial wrongdoing or conflict of interest, though the findings further outline the Selinger NDP’s willingness to abuse the provincial public service for political gain.

“The NDP has learned nothing from previous investigations into its abuse and politicizing of the public service,” Goertzen added, noting the Ombudsman’s probe in 2013 of former cabinet minister Christine Melnick’s use of provincial staff at a legislature rally. “The NDP shows no respect for the civil service and continues to put its political interests above those of the province.”

PCs continue call for stadium audit, even if NDP and Liberals won’t

PCs willing to stand up for taxpayers and prevent future waste: Stefanson

January 1, 2016 – Manitoba PCs are once again requesting that the Auditor General conduct a comprehensive audit of the Investors Group Field construction project. The cost of the stadium has more than tripled from the $115 million originally announced by the Selinger NDP to a reported $376 million, and will likely continue to soar even higher and result in more money out of the pockets of Manitobans.

“The PCs will continue to work on behalf of taxpayers and with an audit, we can learn what happened and prevent future waste of this magnitude,” said Heather Stefanson, Opposition critic for the City of Winnipeg.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the Liberals have adopted the Selinger NDP approach of less transparency and accountability for Manitoba taxpayers. Audits of this nature are within the existing mandate of the Auditor General and do not cost the taxpayers any additional money.”

Recent comments by the Manitoba Liberals opposing an audit require an explanation as to why they are unwilling to stand up for taxpayers. Following the latest reported price tag of $376 million and growing, Manitobans understand that wasteful spending costs more and that someone should be held accountable for the mismanagement of this project.

“We are prepared to continue that work as Manitoba’s next government and ensure the prevention of such waste,” Stefanson added.

Statement from Cliff Cullen on potential mine closure in Flin Flon

The following is a statement by PC MLA and Official Opposition Critic for Mineral Resources Cliff Cullen regarding the potential closure of the 777 mine in Flin Flon:

December 17, 2015 – The community of Flin Flon is understandably concerned about the future of their community and loss of a significant number of high paying jobs in the region, while the Selinger NDP continues to provide misinformation on the state of mining in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives would develop the potential of the greenstone belt and we are committed to working with industry, Aboriginal peoples and other stakeholders. We need to find the resources, keep the existing jobs while creating new ones, and develop wealth in the north.

Mining is a major force in the provincial economy and the engine of northern development, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and creating thousands of high paying jobs. The mining sector is one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the province.

Our long term strategy supports the mineral exploration sector in doing what they do best: find the next mine in Manitoba, while respecting the environment.

We will work with industries and Aboriginal peoples to ensure the continued sustainable development of the province’s mineral resources in a way that benefits northern and Aboriginal people, northern communities and the province.

More failing health care grades for Selinger NDP

Doctors’ watchdog group gives Manitoba failing grades yet again: Driedger

December 8, 2015 – A report released today on health care wait times from doctors associations across the country gives the Selinger NDP some failing grades, confirming previous reports on how poorly the system is performing.

The Wait Time Alliance gives the Selinger NDP an “F” on wait times for prostate cancer treatment and a “D” for breast cancer treatment while pointing out wait times for MRIs and cataract surgeries have increased over the past year. The Alliance also gives Manitoba a “C” for website reporting.

“These third-party condemnations of our system are getting all too familiar,” said PC Health Critic Myrna Driedger. “Previous reports put us dead last in wait times, and I’m very worried this one from concerned doctors will gather dust beside all the other broken promises on the health minister’s shelf.”

Code gridlock is a term used by hospitals describing a situation where patients occupy hospital beds when they don’t need to, as there is nowhere else to put them. The whole system backs up – ambulances can’t release patients and surgeries are cancelled due to lack of space.

Last June, the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) reported Winnipeg hospital emergency rooms had the longest waits in the country, and patients at Grace General in particular suffered the longest waits for any hospital in Canada – for the second straight year.

“We agree with the doctors – this requires a system-wide solution,” Driedger said. “Meanwhile Manitoba continues to have the highest ambulance fees in the country and the Selinger NDP continues to close rural ERs. It’s time to put patients first.”