Manitoba election: PCs accuse Selinger of 'playing politics with cancer patients'

The Progressive Conservatives are demanding an apology from Greg Selinger after the NDP leader suggested PC Leader Brian Pallister would make Manitobans pay for cancer care drugs if elected.

PC leader's refusal to rule out privatizing parts of health-care system prompts questions from NDP

The Progressive Conservatives are demanding an apology from Greg Selinger after the NDP leader suggested PC Leader Brian Pallister would make Manitobans pay for cancer care drugs if elected. 1:46

The Progressive Conservatives are demanding an apology from Greg Selinger after the NDP leader suggested PC Leader Brian Pallister would make Manitobans pay for cancer care drugs if elected.

"It's unfortunate that we have to be here today," Heather Stefanson, PC candidate for Tuxedo, told reporters at a news conference Saturday afternoon. "To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I'm actually quite frankly disgusted at the tactics [Selinger has] used."

In a press release issued by the NDP Saturday, Selinger quotes Pallister as saying there are "no sacred cows" when it comes to cuts — a point the NDP have repeated on several occasions, interpreting the phrase to mean the PCs would cut budgets and important services if elected.
With the provincial election just days away, NDP Leader Greg Selinger is publicly asking Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister if he will make Manitobans pay for cancer care drugs if elected. 5:30

"Families deserve a straight answer from Brian Pallister on whether their cancer care services are at risk before they cast their vote," Selinger said.

The NDP currently covers 100 per cent of the cost of cancer-fighting drugs for patients, whether they be in-hospital or at home, according to the party.

The most recent barbed exchange stems from a question levelled at Pallister last week on the night of CBC Manitoba's televised leaders' debate. 

Selinger said Pallister's refusal to rule out privatizing parts of the province's health-care system is a sign he's already considering implementing private sector models.

On Saturday, Stefanson accused Selinger of "playing politics with cancer patients," adding Manitobans won't be swayed by fear-mongering at the eleventh hour.

"This kind of desperate American-style politics has no place in Manitoba," she said. "Enough is enough."

Stefanson said the PCs have never even hinted they would consider reducing patient access to cancer-care treatment. Stefanson said as someone who has lost her mother to cancer, she can imagine Selinger's comments were unsettling to other Manitoba families that have been hit with the disease.

"Today [Selinger] is scaring cancer patients. My question is: who will it be tomorrow?" Stefanson said, adding the NDP leader should apologize for his remarks.

'He covered up the truth'

In the press release​, Selinger also accused Pallister of hiding the truth about trips to Costa Rica, a topic Pallister addressed Friday.

In the days leading up to Manitoba's provincial election, NDP Leader Greg Selinger is asking PC Leader Brian Pallister whether he will cut funding for cancer-fighting drugs in the province should he be elected.
"Earlier this week, Brian Pallister misled Manitobans about where he was during the last major flood," Selinger said. "If he's misled Manitobans about that simple issue, what else is he hiding from [them]?"

Selinger also raised questions about two of Pallister's party members: Tyndall Park candidate Dr. Naseer Warraich, whose medical license was suspended for two months in 2006 and Kaur Sidhu, the PC candidate in The Maples.

In 2012, the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association fined Sidhu $4,000 for transferring prescriptions from his former pharmacy to his new one and $16,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.

Manitobans head to the polls Tuesday.

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