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Premier Pallister visits Swan River

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The Swan River Constituency PC Association held a sandwich luncheon at the Westwood Inn on Sunday (Jan. 15) where attendees had the opportunity to hear a presentation from Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and to ask questions of both him and local MLA Rick Wowchuk. Prior to addressing the crowd, Pallister sat down with local media to provide an update on the state of the province. “I like to have meetings like this to make sure I’m on top of what emerges as new issues,” he said of his visit to the Valley. “Rick is doing a great job of keeping caucus informed about issues around the Swan River area but, for me, it’s a chance to get back in direct touch (with the constituents). “(The PC government) now represents nearly every single agricultural region across the province. There’s an opportunity in that as well as a real profound sense of responsibility because we want to make sure we do everything we can to be fair to everybody – not just the people in our ridings but also in the ridings we don’t represent because they have needs and concerns too. “I’ve never respected government that just catered to the special interests,” Pallister continued. “I want to be a government that is for Manitoba because all Manitobans deserve to have a government like that, for a change.”  On his tour, Pallister will also be making stops in Dauphin, Virden, Neepawa, Shoal Lake, Brandon, and Portage la Prairie. “After this, we will be back getting our budget ready,” he said, noting that there is a lot of budget preparation already happening due to the challenges faced with the Province’s deficit. “We need to move back toward balance and get our money situation strong while, at the same time, improving our services. It’s a delicate balance. You can’t reduce all your spending and let health care go south. And, roads still need to be built and bridges need to be fixed. “But, in every respect, we are using this new, strong team of MLAs to harness better ways of doing things,” Pallister continued. “We’ve already been getting government departments smaller at the top and have been getting them to talk to each other more effectively. These are things that are done in the private sector just to survive.”  Pallister pulls many strategies from his backgrounds in both farm and small business. “It’s about controlling waste, reducing waste and getting taxes down,” he said. “We started this in our first budget and we are going to continue.” But, sometimes travelling what they feel is the best route for the province isn’t always agreed on by all. “My dad was a community guy with not a lot of formal education but he never stopped learning,” Pallister said. “I remember him saying, ‘the surest way to fail is to try to please everybody’. It’s common sense. You can’t please everybody but I always make sure to think of the quiet people. “At the legislature we get the protesters and the special interest groups but there are lots of people out there in the province that can’t afford the cost or time challenge to come to us. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care. “We also have to think of the children,” he continued. “Who is going to pay for these billion dollar deficits? It’s going to be the young people that come after us, plus the interest. “Thinking about sustainability is important. You can’t squander your resources this year and think that you are helping their generations to come after us.” Another complaint often heard by both voters and new MLAs is that government process is very slow and Pallister understands these frustrations. “I relate well with the fact that government can be slow because I came from the private sector where if I wanted it changed I pursued it and got it done,” he said. “But, I learned very early that you have to keep pushing to get the change made. “This is why we are doing things structurally, within the government, to help alleviate these delays – reducing the size at the top by 30 percent, knocking down the silos and reducing the number of departments, and by structuring the departments to work together more. “We’re encouraging Manitobans to remain hopeful but patient because there’s a lot of cleaning up we have to do,” Pallister continued. “We have 17 years of the previous government with a lot of wasteful habits that need to be changed.  It’s going to take some time. “But, we’re going to be the most improved province in Canada in the next four years. That’s our goal and we are already on a path to make that a reality.”