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else. His views on how a team should work explain his style of leadership. Remember that Brian’s adolescent years


Brian Pallister, the Coach W


“People deserve the kind of government that reflects their own values.” Dorothy Dobbie


hen it comes to values and how they define a person, Brian Pal- lister sets teamwork above all


were dominated by team sports. He ex- celled by being part of a team, by listening to his coach and by relying on his team- mates. He now sees himself as the coach, ready


to mete out reward to those who do well, while mentoring and encouraging those who need more attention. Tis takes some getting used to by the political class, but that is who Brian Pallister is. Understand- ing this spreads light on many parts of his approach. Teamwork, in his view, also means col-


laboration, another bit of an aberration in politics where information is power and is parcelled out accordingly. Brian, however, believes that politicians, the private sector, the non-profits and even the unions can get together to make good things happen. It’s a new approach that will no doubt run into some resistance, but if he can bring people into the tent and make them comfortable, then it could be a powerful weapon in re- invigorating Manitoba. Honesty and integrity are two values


Brian Pallister shares with Manitobans. In fact, Brian thinks that honesty is an intrinsically Manitoba trait. Just ask any outsider, he says. “People from out of province always tell


me that Manitobans are so direct – they say what they think,” points out Brian. “Tey have this natural kind of honesty and come across as being very forthright,” he says. Honest and direct, he himself certainly


is – sometimes more so than his handlers would like. In politics, being forthright can be a liability. Strongly held views will always provoke strong reactions. Moreover, those who speak spontaneously and forth- rightly make an easy target for opponents looking to quote snippets of a comment out of context. Some people, media included, don’t


know just what to make of Brian Pallister. He doesn’t quite fit the mold of the typical politician. First of all, he’s very tall. He has a tall beautiful wife and two daughters who reach the same heights and are both talented. And Brian is the source of many conflicting abilities: pianist, star basketball player, math whiz, avid reader, successful businessman and, perhaps last, politician. He’s a bred-in-the-bone Tory, but a Tory


with compassion. And compassion is one of the five pillars that surround his circle of values. Hard work and compassion


“Manitobans lead the country in charita-


come from the same root. He believes we need to apply an intelligent management system to the fishery, that in the matter of water management we’d have been a lot bet- ter off as a member of the western trading relationship so we could better deal with Saskatchewan agriculture practices that have affected our own water management. “Tere’s nothing wrong with Manitoba


that can’t be fixed by Manitobans,” he de- clares. But there is a lot wrong, he says. “Social services are overburdened. Why should Manitoba have twice the number of children in care as Saskatchewan does?” he asks. Te system is clearly sick. Over the years, the current government


has tended to close in. Brian ordered a re- port on a tendering process through Access to Information and it came back two-thirds blacked out. In fact, tendering has fallen by the wayside with the government. The government has grown incestu-


Brian Pallister, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba .


ble donations,” Brian says with pride. “Vol- unteering is the norm here.” He believes that volunteering and compassionate giv- ing are Manitoba values that hearken back to the early days when helping each other meant the difference between perishing and survival. Tat doesn’t make him a socialist; it con-


firms his roots in the prairie conservative ethic, where every man worked hard for himself but could spare a little for a neigh- bour in distress. Brian supports the concept of making poverty history, but doing so in a way that elevates rather than suppresses self-reliance. “You can’t help the needy if you can’t help


yourself,” he points out. Common sense is something else he


holds in high esteem. Common sense is exemplified by good fiscal management and wealth building. In a speech to the Women of Winnipeg, a


few days prior to this interview, he put it this way. “Tis province needs a good financial planner – and here I am.” He was explain- ing some of the fiscal conundrums a new Manitoba government will have to contend with and how he intends to deal with them. “We need to do a value-for-money audit,” he says, “just to get a handle on where the biggest leakages are.” He doesn’t blame the unions or the public service – he has seen their frustration with the status quo, with the way so many decisions have a political, rather than common sense, bent. But taxation for the wrong reasons makes


him see red (no pun intended). “Why should a Winnipeg family of four pay $3,500 more in taxes than the same


Saskatchewan family? It’s because of things like this that we are losing so many good people,” he says passionately He is embarrassed and appalled by the


statistics that put Manitoba “tenth out of 10” on so many key files; in education, for example, we are at the bottom of the list when it comes to reading, science, math and even basic skills development. “We need systemic changes to the education system,” he says, pointing to just one of the many areas where we have fallen behind the rest of the country. Motivate the kids


It pains him to hear the story of the


bright young student who handed in a test paper with the words, “Donut know and donut care!” scrawled after every ques- tion. “Where’s the incentive, the vision that would motivate these kids?” he asks. “Why is it in this province that giving a prize to an achiever is taken as an act of shaming everyone else?” Brian believes in the value of inclusion.


“Te future of this province rests on respect for and the success of our indigenous peo- ple. Every one of them should have the same opportunity as any other person in this province,” he says emphatically. He knows that when all our people reach their full potential, Manitoba will prosper. He sees the value in diversified voices


contributing to what he calls “deliberative democracy”. “Half of our new candidates are women,” he says with pride. “People matter,” Brian says. He applies his common-sense value to


such issues as the environment, pointing out that “conservative” and “conserve”


A city with no homeless people T


here is a fever of do-goodness seizing the land as everyone rushes to the aid of the Syrian refugees. Tat is lovely


and I am sure it makes everyone feel pretty proud to be Canadian but what about the forgotten people, the homeless people who are refugees in their own right? We pass them every day, un-


seeing. They might as well be invisible, ghost people whose presence goes unheeded until one of the more desperate in- trudes into our careless space to ask for a loonie, or with squeegee in hand, offers a service for a chance to earn a dollar or two. We never stop to think about


how it is to live without a roof over your head or, no matter how mean, a bed to come home to. Where do they store their mea- ger possessions? (They don’t). How do they shower or wash their hair or their clothes? (They don’t). Even the simplest personal task is monumentally


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difficult for the homeless. We seldom spare them a thought, yet we


have oceans of sympathy and dollars to support people from other lands. Nor does the misery our homeless suffer come without cost. Tere are all sorts of agencies trying to do good things for these folks and going to govern- ment with their hands full of kindly ideas and outstretched for money so they can solve all needs. Problem is, it’s all so piece-


Bold Ideas Dorothy Dobbie


meal – ministering to the homeless does employ a lot of other people though, each of them getting a share of the charity pie right off the top. The second problem is that there is no comprehensive plan to resolve the larger issue – the Sally Anne takes


care of one population. Siloam Mission another, the Main Street Project tries to look after the rest-- the ones that slip between


ous and lazy, he believes. In a speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, he pointed out how expenditures on political staff have burgeoned while ordinary public servants have limped along. He could also have pointed to the fact that droves of for- mer political staffers are being appointed to top positions throughout the province, just one more challenge he will have to deal with if he becomes premier. He is concerned about the city of Win-


nipeg and believes there has to be a better way of dealing with its challenges. Te first thing to do is to sit down with the mayor and try to work out a funding formula that suits the 21st century. “More than half the province’s population lives in Winnipeg,” he says. “We need to respect that.” A goal for Manitoba


Brian Pallister offers one more conun-


drum for political watchers. He is a reader and he finds a lot of wisdom and ideas in the books he reads. One of these is the idea of social impact bonds, a way of “harness- ing private capital to achieve measurable gains,” says Harvard Magazine. Tis social innovation financing allows non-profit organizations to partner with their private sector donors to deliver social services in an efficient and effective manner. Tis is a major departure from the current govern- ment’s practice of taking over and bullying non-profits because some union leaders believe that non-profits and charitable or- ganizations compete with their members for jobs. So that is Brian Pallister, the coach. He


believes in honesty, compassion, common sense, inclusion and, always, teamwork. He values women, diversity, intelligent management of resources, collaboration and balance as well as solid financial man- agement. He promises Manitobans a car- ing, well-managed province, where every individual will be encouraged to reach their personal and full potential.


the others – the really down and out with addictions or mental problems. Te cost adds up, as administrative effort


is layered upon administrative effort. And this is just the big three – there are many other smaller groups looking after special populations – lost youth, single mothers, you name them. But what if all these agencies and other


organizations got together, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and agreeing, each of them, to co-ordinate their activi- ties in a more formal way? And what if all the charitable donors, philanthropists and government funders were part of this? Could we make a real dent in the need and perhaps do more for less? I think we can and I think we must. It is


time we tackled homelessness on a compre- hensive level, always with a view to ending it all together. Tis is not an insurmount- able problem. It’s a community issue that requires the efforts of all of us, individuals, businesses, organizations and finally, but not exclusively, government. Indeed it had been our excessive reliance


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on governments that has made the mess of social services in all sectors that exists in Manitoba today. We have abrogated our community responsibilities to bureaucrats, who may be well meaning as individuals but who do not have the freedom to act and use their judgement that effective manage- ment requires. When this is combined with the NDP’s


dislike of non-profits, who’s volunteers are perceived by the unions to vie for jobs, the result is a hopelessly tangled web of rules, regulations, expense and poor delivery. Tat means it is up to us to change the


system, return to a freer enterprise delivery of social services and do what is necessary to end homelessness. One start? We need about $10 million to


move the Main Street Project out of its cur- rent 1,500-square-foot former spice factory where about 150 toil or are served daily and into an appropriately-sized building where we could house all the folks who are today huddling under bridges as the snow falls and the temperature drops. 1. We can do it together. Let’s get it done.


January 2016


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