Manitoba

Brian Pallister feels 'awesome, humbled' by election win

Brian Pallister, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, will be Manitoba's next premier.

Brian Pallister's victory speech

CBC News: Winnipeg at 6:00

5 years ago
1:13
Brian Pallister led the Progressive Conservatives to a historic win Tuesday night in Manitoba. 1:13

Brian Pallister says he is feeling both "awesome" and "humbled" by his election win in Fort Whyte and his party's surge to majority in Manitoba.

The leader of the Progressive Conservative Party will be Manitoba's next premier. 

"The only thing better than tonight in Manitoba is tomorrow," said premier-designate Pallister on Tuesday.

"All Manitobans are going to walk out into a beautiful spring morning and they're going to look up and the sky's going to be blue."

In his victory speech, Pallister promised to lead a government for everyone, not just Progressive Conservative voters.

"After years of division we now have an opportunity to build a better future for all Manitobans together," said Pallister.

As PC leader, Pallister ran on a promise to lower the PST and improve Manitoba's balance sheet. Last year, Manitoba's credit rating was downgraded after the province failed to meet balanced budget targets. Under the NDP government, in five years, Manitoba's net debt rose from $12.5 billion to $20.4 billion in 2015.

Polling numbers consistently showed the Progressive Conservatives in the lead throughout the campaign. Pallister was only put on the defensive last week when CBC revealed he had spent 240 days travelling to or in Costa Rica — where he owns a vacation property — since he was elected in 2012.

After being challenged on why he had not disclosed his 15 trips to the Central American country, Pallister defended his family's right to privacy and said he frequently works while away.

Throughout the 2016 election campaign, Pallister fought to project a warmer, kinder image. His approval ratings have been consistently lower than the popularity of the PC Party among voters; however, Vote Compass data analyzed for CBC found Pallister was seen as more trustworthy and competent than the other leaders in the race.

Pallister's path to politics

Pallister, 61, is a veteran of the insurance and financial industry and a long-time federal and provincial politician.

Brian Pallister waves to supporters at his victory rally. (CBC)
He first entered politics in 1992 running with the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives and winning a seat in the Manitoba Legislature for Portage la Prairie. He served as minister of government services under former premier Gary Filmon. Pallister left provincial politics for Ottawa in 1997.

Pallister ran for leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives in 1998, losing to Joe Clark.

Pallister went on to be elected to the House of Commons a total of three times to represent the riding Portage-Lisgar. As a member of Parliament, Pallister served as a parliamentary secretary to both the minister of international trade and the minister of international cooperation. 

In July 2012, Pallister was chosen to take over the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba from former leader, Hugh McFadyen. He won by acclamation.

In September of that year, Pallister was elected to the Manitoba Legislature to represent Fort Whyte in a byelection.
Brian Pallister in 2012 after becoming leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

Humble beginnings in rural Manitoba

He grew up with two siblings in the small village of Edwin, Man. Pallister's father, Bill Pallister, was a farmer and local politician and his mother, Anne Pallister, was a school teacher.

Money was tight, Pallister has said, and often times his family relied on his mother's meagre income as a teacher to put food on the table.

Pallister was bullied growing up because of crooked teeth, which have since been fixed, and his height. Pallister stands a towering 6' 8".

When he started university, Pallister said he hitchhiked to Brandon to attend classes. He earned degrees in arts and education at Brandon University.

His first job was as a teacher at William Morton Collegiate in Gladstone, Man., according to the Progressive Conservative Party. 

In 1980, he founded Pallister Financial, an insurance and investment business still operating in Portage la Prairie.

Pallister is married to Esther Johnson and has two daughters.

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