Manitoba’s three main provincial party leaders kept the gloves on in the final debate before Tuesday’s election.
Greg Selinger, Brian Pallister and Rana Bokhari fielded questions from Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce members, one another and moderator, 680 CJOB’s Richard Cloutier.
The focus was mainly on business. The 8 per cent PST often came up in the 90 minute discussion. Other topics included: child poverty, indigenous relations, infrastructure and education.
The PC Leader did offer up a bold statement regarding Canada’s largest union saying that the Canadian Union of Public Employees had too much leverage with the government.
“I do not believe in a province that is run by CUPE and that is been what’s been going on for far too long here in Manitoba; it has to stop,” Pallister said.
Both Bokhari and Selinger were quick to criticize the comment. Bokhari called it “insulting” while Selinger said the comments were “very unhelpful”.
“Mr. Pallister always looks for one person or one group that he can punish and make a victim and he demonstrated that again today,” Selinger said.
As for answering the questions put to them, the leaders decided to stick to the talking points.
“I’m hoping throughout the time here that our candidates here will answer the questions directed to them,” said Cloutier to the delight of the audience.
Pallister was asked about cutting teachers if his party forms a government after April 19th. Pallister could not give a conclusive answer.
“I don’t know how deep the hole is we’re going to be receiving here if we are so honoured as to move to be the government of Manitoba,” Pallister said.
“My commitment to education is well known and well understood by most.”
As for the Liberal leader, she came away with the best jab of the afternoon, targeting Pallister for mentioning his mother throughout the campaign.
“I know you’re going to talk about how your mom was a teacher, your dad was a teacher and everyone you know was a teacher,” Bokhari said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Overall, the debate saw no clear winner.
Manitobans go to the polls on April 19th; advances polls are opened through the weekend.