The gloves are off as the Manitoba election campaign enters its final week.
Frontrunner Brian Pallister of the Progressive Conservatives and NDP leader Greg Selinger are going back and forth ahead of the April 19th vote.
Selinger is pressuring Pallister to make his tax return public after he showed his to the media over the weekend. He’s also calling Pallister “homophobic”.
Selinger suggested Pallister doesn’t support gay rights because he and his party voted against an anti-bullying bill back in 2013. Part of the bill, which is now law, called for schools to allow for the creation of “gay-straight alliance” groups.
“It’s up to him. I think he’s homophobic. He has to answer for himself.”
Pallister responded to the allegations this afternoon, saying his record spoke for itself.
“I was advocating for same sex property rights for gay couples in the 80s, so I don’t think I need anything but my record to stand by my attitude towards tolerance,” said Pallister. “My record speaks for itself. Loud and clear.”
The NDP released a statement after those comments, saying Pallister has a record of opposing equal rights for the LGBTTQ community. They say he voted against measures to protect LGBTTQ rights in the House of Commons, including voting to reaffirm the Canadian Alliance definition of marriage and petitioning the house against same-sex marriage.
The NDP have also pointed to a 2005 comment where Pallister calls same sex marriage a “social experiment.”
Meantime, Pallister is still refusing to make his tax return public, saying he believes in people’s right to privacy and the election should be about how the government treats Manitobans money, not how much the leaders make.
He is admitting he has one offshore account, in Costa Rica. He says it’s to pay bills for a vacation home he and his wife purchased years ago. Pallister says the current balance is about $2300 Canadian Dollars.
“We keep that account there so we can pay for fixing up the property and pay our taxes and utility bills down there.”
Pallister said he “deplores” the use of so called tax havens and fought against them with he was an MP in Ottawa. He said tax rates for houses in Costa Rica are actually higher than in Canada.
“Esther (his wife) have felt blessed in our lives to have the chance to work hard. I started a company out of my car in 1980. We’ve built it up over three decades. We’ve saved. We put aside to save for a vacation home…..I want a province where people who come from a background I come from can find success, where they can invest and achieve their dreams. So I’m not here today to apologize,” he said.
Liberal leader Rana Bokhari has also released her tax return.
A new 680 CJOB/Global News poll shows the Progressive Conservatives with 49% support amongst decided voters. That’s compared to 24% for the NDP and 22% for the Liberals. The polls shows about 30% of respondents are undecided.