Manitoba premier says provincial election will happen 'for sure' in 2019
Brian Pallister has repeatedly made clear he's inclined to go to the polls this year
After months of hinting, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said in no uncertain terms Wednesday he will call a provincial election this year.
The premier was once again asked about the possibility of an election ahead of the fixed date in late 2020.
After saying in the "fullness of time we'll have more discussion on that," Pallister didn't disagree when a reporter suggested he was leaning toward dropping the writ in 2019.
"Well, at some point this year for sure," Pallister said.
Rampant speculation of early election
The premier has repeatedly made clear he's inclined to go to the polls this year, but he hasn't outright confirmed it in public statements to media.
Earlier this month, Pallister offered perhaps his strongest hint when he referred to next year's celebrations around the Manitoba sesquicentennial, saying "there won't be an election during our 150th birthday party."
He wouldn't specify if the "party" he was referring to was the entire year or a specific event on the calendar.
Pallister has called the Oct. 6, 2020, election date a "drop-dead" one, rather than a fixed date for a vote.
At one point, he said he might go to the polls early if the NDP voted against legislation including a PST cut, but the parties reached a compromise and the Opposition party pledged its support for the budget bill.
Campaigning would get in the way: Pallister
More recently, Pallister said Manitobans don't want an election during the province's 150th birthday year, and later said it wouldn't make economic sense to interrupt the year of celebrations with campaigning.
He repeated on Wednesday that an election during Manitoba 150 wasn't his preference. He has argued it would be improper of his government to seize on the party as an excuse to promote themselves.
"I've already said that during our 150th is just not a good time to have a provincial election, in my estimation and the estimation of many Manitobans," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Pallister has previously said he would provide advance notice of an early election to the Liberals and NDP, so as not to take advantage of any unpreparedness on their part. Pallister stated he would provide a 90-day notice "if possible," though he didn't specify what might make giving such notice impossible.
This month, he suggested his political rivals don't need to be tipped off because the election speculation in the media has done the job for him.