Manitoba Liberal candidate says his promise to close hospitals was a publicity stunt

A Manitoba Liberal candidate who said Wednesday he wanted to close hospitals to reduce wait times said on Thursday it was all a publicity stunt.

Brandon West Liberal candidate Billy Moore says no regrets about publicity stunt, 'very happy'

Billy Moore is the Liberal candidate for Brandon West (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

A Manitoba Liberal candidate who said Wednesday he wanted to close hospitals to reduce wait times said on Thursday it was all a publicity stunt.

Brandon West Liberal candidate Billy Moore told CBC News today that he is in full support of funding hospitals and health care and does not want to see hospitals closed. 

"No, I don't think it's a good idea [to close hospitals], even though that's what I said yesterday," Moore said. "Let me reiterate, that was for publicity. I'm saying, let's get real."

On Wednesday, Moore, 76,  told reporters and about two dozen people at a debate that there are too many hospitals in Manitoba and that has driven up wait times. 

"To me, when we have too many hospitals, psychologically people think they are sick because the hospital is there to use," Moore told CBC News afterwards. "And if we take one or two hospitals [out], you will see a difference."

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari reacted to the comments at a press conference in Niverville, Man. Thursday morning. 

"He said something silly, but he's honest," she said. 

Bokari said the party doesn't endorse closing hospitals and that Moore won't be disciplined.
Manitoba Liberal candidate Billy Moore is "happy" with his comments about closing hospitals because they helped raise his profile, he said. 0:28

"Just to clarify what he was trying to say, if we focus on preventative measures so people don't have to use hospitals, we won't need that many," she said. "That's essentially what he was trying to articulate."

Moore said he hasn't yet spoken with Bokhari, but has heard what she had to say in the media and has an answer ready should she call. 

He said what he said reflected his own personal thoughts. 

CBC now has a request in to ask Bokhari what she thinks of Moore's publicity stunt. 

Meanwhile Moore said he doesn't have any regrets about his bid to get coverage.  

"Not at all. And for the simple reason for that is because I got the publicity that I needed since I am not too well known in that area," Moore said. "No regrets at all. I am very happy with what I said." 

Moore doesn't believe the comments will hurt his campaign in the long run.

He is up against Progressive Conservative incumbent Reg Helwer and NDP candidate Linda Ross in the Brandon West constituency.

Brandon East candidate stands by Moore

Vanessa Hamilton is running for the Manitoba Liberals in Brandon East. She stands by Moore and believes Billy's statement came out poorly.

"I know Billy is passionate about prevention," she said. "The answer was expressed poorly. It didn't come out as intended."

Even though Moore has already said the statement was only a publicity stunt, Hamilton contends that Moore is passionate about prevention and keeping people well and reiterated that there are no plans to close hospitals under a Liberal government.

"The Manitoba Liberal Party and myself will not be closing down any hospitals," Hamilton told CBC News on Thursday. "They are needed to provide service."

"There is a point... in that the MLP believes in prevention and investing in prevention to keep people out of hte hospital," she said.

Hamilton herself came under fire on social media for a tweet that suggested people rely on hospitals too much and that more people are ill under the current government. She said what she meant was that the province needs to try new measures to improve health outcomes and help reign in health spending in Manitoba. 

She suggests looking outside the healthcare system more in efforts to keep people healthy.

Manitobans head to the polls on April 19. 

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