New economic development strategy coming for Manitoba, premier says in state of the province speech

Premier Brian Pallister, largely absent from the legislature since a hiking fall last month, unveiled a new economic development board in his state of the province speech on Thursday.

Former chamber head Dave Angus and payroll firm exec Barb Gamey to lead board recommended by Deloitte

Premier Brian Pallister promises to create an economic development group that will have six months to come up with a strategy for Manitoba. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Premier Brian Pallister, largely absent from the legislature since a hiking fall last month, unveiled an economic development board that will create a new strategy for Manitoba as he delivered his state of the province speech on Thursday.

"I'll ask you to go for a hike with me," Pallister quipped as he began his speech.

The premier said Dave Angus, former head of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, and Barb Gamey, a payroll company executive, will create and lead a board that will have six months to come up with a strategy to kick-start the Manitoba economy.

Neither will be government employees. Gamey is already on Pallister's Premier's Enterprise Team.

The board is in response to a recommendation by Deloitte Canada, which was hired by the provincial government to review Manitoba's growth efforts.

Deloitte also recommends a "new dedicated economic development agency," a news release handed out at the state of the province speech says.

The Deloitte report hasn't been made public yet, but Pallister said it would be released in the next few weeks.

Pallister hasn't been at question period and has missed most government activities since he fell into a ravine after he got lost in the dark while hiking alone in New Mexico.

His economy-focused speech to the chamber of commerce included talk of austerity, deficits (not acceptable, he said), keeping taxes low and his government's health-care reforms. ("Are we going to do better? Pallister asked. "Damn right!")

Other than the new economic development appointees, Pallister didn't speak about any initiatives that weren't in last month's throne speech.

That speech offered few radical changes to the fiscal restraint policies the Progressive Conservatives have been pushing along for more than a year.

Speaking about his government's recent cannabis legislation, Pallister remarked on the incredible feedback received on policy related to legalized marijuana.

One example Pallister gave was a promise by one person to help Manitoba with its pot supply.

"I've been growing the stuff for years and I can grow it for you too," Pallister told the crowd of the online submission.

Pallister praised his government's cannabis strategy as the proper mix of protecting health and harnessing entrepreneurial growth.

Pallister also spoke about his government's efforts to build on reconciliation with Indigenous people and pledged to continue those efforts.

He highlighted the success of efforts to transfer land to First Nations and ongoing work to develop resources through a joint effort of Indigenous and government appointed leaders.

"We need to join hands together," Pallister told the audience.

About the Author

Sean Kavanagh

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Sean has had a chance to live in some of Canada's other beautiful places (Whistler, B.C., and Lake of the Woods, Ont.) as well as in Europe and the United States. In more than a decade of reporting, Sean has covered some of the seminal events in Manitoba, from floods to elections, including a stint as the civic affairs reporter responsible for city hall.