Brian Pallister sets sights on PC leadership

Brian Pallister is the first candidate to put his name on the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party leadership ballot.
Brian Pallister announces his leadership candidacy at The Forks in Winnipeg on Wednesday. (Louis-philippe Leblanc)

Brian Pallister is the first candidate to put his name on the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party leadership ballot.

He announced his intention Wednesday to try to succeed Hugh McFadyen as party leader. 

Surrounded by supporters, including Tory MLA Myrna Dreidger, Pallister said his campaign will focus on economic issues such as more jobs and better financial management for government.

Brian Pallister smiles after making his leadership bid official on Wednesday. (Louise Charette/CBC)

The 57-year-old financial analyst has previously served as a Manitoba MLA in his home riding of Portage la Prairie (1992-97) and as a federal MP for Portage–Lisgar (2000-08), first as a member of the Canadian Alliance then as a member of the Conservative Party after the merger of the Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties.

While with the provincial government, he was a cabinet minister under Premier Gary Filmon.

He left provincial politics to campaign for the leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party in 1998. He finished fourth on the first ballot with 12.5 per cent support.

He entered the House of Commons in 2000 and eventually became chair of the standing committee on finance.

Hugh McFadyen announced his intention to resign as Manitoba PC leader after his party's loss in the Oct. 4, 2011 provincial election. (CBC)

In 2005, he got into hot water for a remark he made about women during the federal election campaign.

"I am copping what's known as a woman's answer, isn't it? It's a sort of fickle kind of thing," he said, responding to criticism that a federal campaign is no time for a candidate to be examining other job prospects.

Although he was running for re-election as an MP, he was also being encouraged by some to take a run at becoming leader of the provincial Tories.

He ultimately decided against the provincial job, which went to McFadyen in 2006.

Following his party's loss in the Oct. 4, 2011 provincial election, McFadyen announced his intention to resign as leader as soon as a new one is appointed.

Before entering politics, Pallister taught in a high school in rural Manitoba and later founded Pallister Insurance and Financial Services.

Winnipeg city councillor Scott Fielding has also said he is pondering a run for the PC leadership. However, he hasn't made anything official yet.

The deadline for prospective leadership candidates to be certified is July.

The vote takes place on Oct. 27.