The opposition Progressive Conservatives are standing by a letter written by their leader in which he suggested an unnamed NDP MLA used his or her influence to cut to the front of the line to get surgery for a relative.

Two rural newspapers, the Roblin Review and the Flin Flon Reminder, published the letter, written by PC Party Leader Brian Pallister last Friday.

In the letter, Pallister asked readers to imagine how they would feel if their mother needed urgent surgery, but had "been bumped to the back of the list because of someone else." Then he wrote, "imagine the reason for ... the delay in your mother's treatment was because the spot had been taken by the mother of an NDP MLA."

DAVE CHOMIAK

NDP Cabinet minister Dave Chomiak said Friday Tory Leader Brian Pallister should retract and apologize for a letter to the editor that suggests an unnamed MLA used his or her influence to get preferential medical treatment. (CBC)

He did not specify who the MLA might be.

The queue-jumping incident Pallister wrote about never happened and a Tory party spokesperson says it was "hypothetical."

The governing NDP though said the letter leaves the impression that an MLA from the government side used political influence for preferential medical treatment and symbolizes a new low in this province's politics.

"I was actually astonished. I think in 25 years of being the in legislature, I've never seen a letter written by a leader like that," said Dave Chomiak, Minister of Mineral Resources. "I served under many premiers and other different Conservative leaders and I don't think any of them would have done anything as dishonest as this," he said.

Pallister is out of the country, according to his spokesperson.

However on CBC Radio Noon, PC MLA Dennis Smook defended the letter.

Smook said his leader was trying to draw a parallel with the recent dust-up involving former immigration minister Christine Melnick.

This fall, the provincial ombudsman reported Melnick lied when she told the legislature last year she did not order a bureaucrat to invite immigrants and support workers to a debate on federal immigration policy.

Melnick said she was suffering from undiagnosed diabetes when the incident occurred and has apologized.

"I believe the leader was just using this to bring it forward to show the people that if they are willing to do one thing, they would be willing to do other things as well," said Smook, who represents the riding of La Verendrye.

The NDP wants Pallister to retract the letter and apologize.

"It's an example of why he's not ready to be Premier or lead this province," said Chomiak.

Shannon Sampert, a political science professor at the University of Winnipeg, said this latest incident ranks up there with the debacle that followed Pallister's "infidel" comment last month.

"The bottom line is in communication, successful communication, you have to take responsibility for the intended as well as the unintended outcome of your message, and his message is failing," Sampert said

Here is Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister's letter