WINNIPEG —; Taxes and healthcare were hot issues as Manitoba’s political party leaders debated one week before the election.
Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister who is ahead in the polls was the target of all other participating leaders, especially when it came to cutting costs.
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Pallister said he plans to cut waste in the health care sector, not front line services. He said he was open to ideas on how to improve healthcare and said the Selinger NDP had already started down the road of privatization.
Green Party Leader James Bedomme asked Pallister for a commitment to fight poverty in the province. Pallister agreed it was an important topic.
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“I want to work with anyone who wants to address the issues of poverty effectively,” Pallister said during the debate.
Political analyst Royce Koop said Pallister was the strongest candidate at the debate.
“They did not follow up aggressively, Mr. Pallister took advantage of the opportunities that were offered to him by the debate format more effectively than the other leaders,” Koop said.
Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari targeted Pallister for not calling in to a Manitoba Teachers Society debate last week. For the most part, the Liberal Leader let her two opponents take the stage.
“I wanted Manitobans to see how the two worked together. These are the kinds of things we see in the legislature,” Bokhari said in a scrum after the debate.
When pressed on whether Manitobans would see another hike like the 2013 PST increase during the debate, Selinger did not initially give a clear response. However he said afterward that there would not be another hike.
“We acknowledge we took them by surprise we do not have those conditions now, we do not have to raise the PST again,” Selinger said.
While under fire, Selinger stuck to his point that the hike was a difficult decision that needed to be made for flood protection and infrastructure.