Impaired-driving accusation as Manitoba election campaign gets personal
Progressive Conservative party leader Brian Pallister announces that the provincial election is underway after a visit to the Lieutenant Governor on Monday, August 12, 2019 in Winnipeg. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, August 26, 2019 5:17PM CST
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba Progressive Conservatives have gone after a lawyer running for the NDP in next month's provincial election over a website that promotes him as an expert in helping people accused of impaired driving avoid conviction.
"Drinking and Driving is NOT against the law," reads one heading in bold type on impaireddriving.ca.
Mark Wasyliw, who is running for the New Democrats in the Fort Garry-Winnipeg constituency, is among some lawyers across Canada who pay a fee to be featured on the site.
"Mark will often take difficult cases to trial, arguing new matters aggressively to win when winning seemed impossible," reads one section.
While the information is factual -- drinking and driving is not against the law, impaired driving is -- the incumbent Tories on Monday accused Wasyliw of being soft on an issue that costs lives.
"Our PC government stands with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada, police agencies across our province, and Manitobans whose lives have been devastated by drinking and driving," the Tories said in a written statement.
"The belief of ... (the) NDP that 'drinking and driving is not against the law' is another example that Manitobans can't afford to go back to the risky NDP."
The New Democrats rejected a request for an interview with Wasyliw and issued a brief statement.
"The NDP has always supported strong legislation to deter, prevent and hold people accountable for impaired driving on our roads. We also support the constitutional right of every Canadian to have due process and a fair trial," it said.
MADD Canada's Manitoba chapter said it would not provide comment.
It is the halfway mark of the campaign for the Sept. 10 and things are getting heated.
On Sunday, the NDP went after Tory Leader Brian Pallister over his vacation home in Costa Rica. The NDP accused Pallister of spending several months in the tropical country since he became premier in 2016, although some of the days the party counted could not be backed up by documents and were based on assumptions about his travel.
Monday was also a deadline for parties to get their candidates in place. The Liberals got a few names in under the wire to field a full slate of 57 candidates for the first time since 2011. In the last election, a handful of Liberals were disqualified for not properly filling out nomination forms.
The NDP and Tories filled their slates much earlier. The Green party, which has never won a seat in Manitoba, registered more than 40 candidates, which leader James Beddome said was a record.
On the hustings Monday, the Tories promised to hire 200 more nurses and 80 rural paramedics if re-elected. Pallister said funding would come from an additional $2 billion over four years that the Tories outlined for health care earlier in the campaign.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew promised a $350-per-year energy rebate to every primary residence. Kinew also said he would renegotiate a carbon tax with the federal government, which has imposed a levy that is to rise to $50 per tonne by 2022.
Kinew said he would try to persuade Ottawa to maintain the current rate of $20 per tonne -- a concession that the federal government has so far refused to make.
"I'm optimistic that whoever the next prime minister is and myself, along with our team, will be able to negotiate a great deal for Manitobans," Kinew said.