Manitobans looking for change from newly-elected PC government

Just 13 hours after Brian Pallister was elected Premier of Manitoba after 16 years of NDP rule, Manitobans indicated they were expecting rapid and significant changes from the new Progressive Conservative government.

Pallister and the PC Party will need to manage those expectations because hundreds of interest groups will want the government to address their needs, said Dan Mazier, Keystone Agricultural Producers president.

“Everybody is going to want to talk to them,” said Mazier, noting infrastructure renewal is a common concern across the province.

“Every group out there was talking about infrastructure…. We have a $10 billion deficit in our infrastructure…. They (the Tories) are not going to make that deficit disappear overnight. That’s probably going to be their biggest challenge.

Mazier has tempered his expectations but he is hopeful that the new government establishes a different tone with rural Manitoba and farmers.

Over the last decade rural Manitoban leaders have said, many, many times, that the NDP party only cares about Winnipeg because most of its supporters live in the city.

The PC Party won 23 seats in rural Manitoba last night, so the new government should have a solid understanding of rural issues and priorities.

Pallister represents a Winnipeg constituency but he is originally from Portage la Prairie.

“Once you’ve got those (rural) roots, you have a chance to remember how things are and you have a different lens,” Mazier said.

Last week Pallister and the Tories released a 100 day plan for their first few months in office.

In that document the PCs promised to review a controversial power transmission project called Bipole III. Farmers and landowners throughout Manitoba have vocally opposed the $4.5 billion project, as many believe it is too expensive and could financially cripple Manitoba Hydro, the provincial utility.

A group of about 120 farmers, known as the Bipole III Landowners Committee, called the NDP government ‘bullies’ because the province and Manitoba Hydro expropriated their land for the project’s right of way.

The farmers wanted to collectively negotiate a compensation package for the right of way, but Manitoba Hydro and the NDP refused.

In response, the Bipole III Landowners Committee held public protests against the expropriation. They claim the former government trampled on property rights and ignored the right of Manitoba residents to organize and bargain collectively.

Manitoba Election results:

PC Party: 40 seats, 53 percent of the popular vote

NDP: 14 seats, 26 percent of the vote

Liberals: three seats, 14 percent of vote

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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