Canada

Tory MP Pallister considers Manitoba leadership run

A Conservative MP from Manitoba is testing the waters to see if he could become leader of the provincial party.

A Conservative MP in Manitoba is testing the waters to see if he could become leader of the provincial party.

Brian Pallister, re-elected on Jan. 23 in Portage-Lisgar, expects to make a decision by the end of the week about whether he'll run for the provincial spot being vacated by Stuart Murray. The vote is in April.

No current Tory MPs or MLAs would comment on Pallister's possible run. But former Reform MP Howard Hilstrom said, "We need him more here in Manitoba than we actually need him in Ottawa."

The Conservatives are the Opposition in Manitoba, having won 20 of the 57 seats in the 2003 election.

Pallister has been touring rural Manitoba this week, soliciting opinions from provincial Tories.

"I don't want to make the wrong decision," he said.

He was in Steinbach on Tuesday and in Stonewall on Wednesday, but said he's doing federal constituency work. That means he can use his federal office resources, such as his aide.

"My assistant is taking calls from the media on a regular basis, so that I can be here, and listen to people and get their input on what I should do. It's totally defensible," he said. "I assure you, if I decide to run, not one penny of taxpayers' money will be used."

Pallister was a Conservative MLA in the early 1990s before moving onto federal politics. He was first elected as a Canadian Alliance MP in Portage-Lisgar in 2000, and has held the seat as a Conservative since 2000.

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