PC leader Pallister visits Portage 0
Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister, centre, with Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart, right, and Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen, left, outside Wishart's office in Portage la Prairie on Sept. 7, 2012. On Sept. 4, 2012, Pallister won the Fort Whyte byelection in Winnipeg, and on Sept. 6, 2012, he announced a caucus shuffle of responsibilities. (Angela Brown, QMi Agency)
After winning the Fort Whyte byelection, Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister made a visit to Portage la Prairie Friday morning on his tour of the area.
On Thursday he announced a caucus shuffle with many new responsibilities for members.
Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart has been assigned the role of Housing and Community Development critic and will be focusing on developing policy to meet community needs.
"We wanted to do a complete realignment of caucus responsibilities," Pallister said. "We changed the way things have been done in the past. Ian and his colleagues are each going to be responsible for shadow- cabinet responsibilities. They are each responsible for the complete portfolio of a ministry of government."
Pallister said Wishart's Housing Portfolio has significant relevance given the current situation in Manitoba involving lower income residents.
"We have a major problem in this province," added Pallister. "There is very limited availability of lower-cost housing. Government has a role here that the NDP government hasn't been fulfilling. We need to understand what the challenges are, and we need to address them."
Pallister noted Wishart will also be the deputy chair of the PC caucus, while Blaine Pedersen will be the caucus chair.
"As a team of people who care deeply about Manitoba's future, we are half the size of the current NDP membership, at the elected level. But what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality," Pallister added.
During his visit, Pallister commented he was pleased after winning the Fort Whyte byelection.
"It was exciting, and with any election campaign -- it's hard work too," he said. "I was really pleased to have the caucus support. Every member of caucus came, and walked and knocked on doors ... Over 350 people from, not just the riding, but from around the city and province volunteered. We had wonderful support; that was great."
He will be officially sworn in for his new position as leader of the PC party next week.
"We have reason as a party to be optimistic about our future," Pallister added.
Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart said he is looking forward to beginning work on his new portfolio following the caucus realignment.
"I am pretty excited about a new role to work on," he said. "It's an area we already identified as a problem in this constituency -- housing is tight. A lot of housing is sub-standard. There is a lot of room for improvements in that regard."
He said he will be focused on working with different groups and individuals to see where improvements can be made.