Pallister regales PC party faithful with folksy stories in speech to donors
'We get our Thermos back,' premier says, in speech linking PST hike to theft he remembered as a youth
A folksy Brian Pallister regaled a throng of party donors Tuesday with stories of his upbringing, one of which likened the NDP's 2013 PST hike to someone stealing from his grandfather.
In front of nearly 800 Progressive Conservative supporters who paid $200 a plate, Manitoba's premier recited a boyhood story of when his grandfather, Harry, discovered his Thermos was missing after giving a lift to a stranger one day in Portage la Prairie.
His grandfather drove back to the pub where he had dropped the stranger off, walked inside and found the man he helped, who denied he ever took the missing flask.
Noticing a bulge in the man's jacket, Harry reached inside to find his Thermos.
"I never loved him as much in my entire life," Pallister recalled, before linking that anecdote to the previous NDP government's PST increase in 2013, which was reversed in the PCs' most recent budget.
"Ladies and gentlemen, on July 1st, we get our Thermos back."
Tearing up often
The premier basked in the glory of his promise to cut the PST by one percentage point this summer, one of several accomplishments he trumpeted during a rah-rah speech at the party's Blue Skies Gala Tuesday night at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg — an annual fundraising event for the Progressive Conservatives.
Any attendees at Tuesday's gala expecting even a hint of election talk, in light of rampant speculation the government would drop the writ this year, received nothing from Pallister.
Instead, he sprinkled his remarks with tales from his rural travels, like meeting a man in Glenella over a plate of eggs, grateful that ambulance fees had been reduced.
He teared up multiple times, when speaking about his grandfather, his eldest daughter and twice when discussing his wife.
Pallister took good-natured jabs at himself. He said his wife quipped the photos of him that he calls ugly are only because the premier doesn't take a good picture.
The Tories are known for their big-ticket fundraisers, which helped the governing party earn more than $2 million in donations last year. The PCs' fundraising prowess exceeds that of the opposition NDP, which raised more than $620,000, or the Liberals, which received around $175,000.
Shaking hands with Gary Doer
Pallister said he's been driven throughout his time in politics by a desire to help people.
It hasn't hurt that the former Member of Parliament made his presence felt from the very beginning.
He spoke of running up the steps of the Legislature the day after he was elected in 1992 and meeting NDP leader Gary Doer.
"What's your name?" Doer asked, even though Pallister was confident he was no stranger to the NDP.
"I squeezed his hand warmly and said, 'I'm Brian Pallister. My friends call me Pally — what's your name?'" Pallister remembered saying right back.
"He said, 'You'll do well here.'"
Earlier in the night, the Tories brought on stage six hopefuls the party wants to become MLAs in the next election, including former candidate Audrey Gordon and business owner Nancy Cooke.