Party leaders square off in last debate before Manitoba election next week
Published Thursday, April 14, 2016 12:46PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, April 14, 2016 6:13PM CST
It didn't feel like the last big debate before election day, as the leaders traded very few barbs.
Still, the candidates vying to become premier, were forced to explain themselves at times during the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce event Thursday.
NDP leader Greg Selinger defended the decision to raise the PST, saying it wasn’t his choice alone, he had the backing of his cabinet when it happened.
"We made a decision together we preceded on that for the first two years of that." said Selinger
That decision lead to a revolt in the NDP against Selinger. PC leader Brian Pallister asked the NDP leader how he can continue to run the province with a fractured party.
"...having witnessed this dysfunction why should Manitobans trust that anything should change if you're re-elected? asked Pallister
“It's a good question and I would say that the team we've assembled for this election includes experienced people." responded Selinger
Pallister was targeted by the other leaders who accused him of ducking and not answering questions. Selinger called it unhelpful and Liberal leader Rana Bokhari used sarcasm when answering a question about roundabouts on the Perimeter Highway to make her point.
"I'm going to try my best to actually answer the question...thank you." said Bokhari
But Pallister refuted their claims and said he won't make certain spending promises until he sees how much red ink he might inherit.
"No business person in this room would make that commitment on behalf of their business if they hadn't seen the books, I won't make it either." said Pallister
There were some fireworks near the end. Pallister claimed union CUPE is running the province because of how it backed Selinger during his leadership crisis.
"The Premier is in his position because of CUPE, everyone here knows it." said Pallister
"Mr. Pallister always looks for one person or one group that he can punish and make a victim…” responded Selinger
As for Bokhari she seemed to fair better at this debate than the televised one Tuesday.
"I decided to walk in to be my feisty self and not the cool calm and collected." said Bokhari
The Green Party was not invited to the debate. The Chamber says it chose parties with representation in the Legislature and that have a reasonable chance of forming government.