'Next year is not good' for an election, Manitoba premier says while making case for early vote
Province would be barred from promoting big birthday bash if it sticks to fixed election date, Pallister says
Brian Pallister is now saying it won't make economic sense to hold a provincial election in 2020.
The premier said Friday morning that if Manitoba sticks with the fixed election date of Oct. 6 of next year, advertising restrictions would prohibit his government from promoting the province to the world during the height of celebrations for Manitoba's 150th birthday.
The provincial government is barred from advertising its activities for 90 days in advance of an election date.
"Next year is not good," the premier said at a Manitoba Chambers of Commerce breakfast event Friday.
He was replying to the organization's president and CEO, Chuck Davidson, who tried to get to the bottom of rampant election speculation during a question and answer session at the event — part of the Chambers of Commerce's series of breakfast sessions with Manitoba leaders.
Economic windfall significant
Pallister said he expects the economic windfall from Manitoba's sesquicentennial to be even higher than the $30-million value of the province's 140th birthday.
"Think of the potential for this one [party], and then realize that for 90 days, in the middle of your 150th birthday party, that you have to stop advertising and promoting it," he said.
"And ask yourself if that's a smart economic move. It isn't. It would be a horrible thing to do to interrupt a party that only happens … once every 150 years."
The premier said an election during that time period would also give his party an unfair advantage, since his MLAs would be attending the various Manitoba 150-related events.
He said he has no intention of calling a snap election, but he suggested he may not wait until the fall of 2020.
"The fact is, having an election in the middle of our 150th birthday party just doesn't make any economic sense," he said. "It doesn't make any, frankly, ethical sense either."
Davidson wasn't sold on Pallister's logic, he told the premier in response.
He told reporters afterwards that the business community isn't clamouring for an early election as far as he knows.
"I'm not hearing it. No one has been coming to the Manitoba Chamber saying 'we need an election.' Typically, there has got to be an issue in our minds that would be something that would precipitate an election."
He said Pallister made a forceful case for the early election, and he acknowledged the premier fulfilled many of the pledges he made in the last election, like finding cost-savings and cutting the PST, and may be seeking a new mandate.
"I'm not 100 per cent convinced that we need to avoid 2020, but I think that's going to be up [to] Manitobans to determine … and, you know, that will typically be determined at the ballot box."