Winnipeg mayor: PM is more accessible than Manitoba premier


The closed door of Brian Pallister is being denounced once again, with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman saying he finds it easier to meet with the prime minister of Canada than the premier of his own province.


“I’ve made many efforts to meet with the premier and will continue to do so. I’ve reached out on many occasions,” Bowman said.

Since Pallister’s Progressive Conservative party was elected in May 2016, Bowman has had just “a couple meetings” with him.

Instead, the premier’s minister for municipal relations has been designated to correspond with Bowman, the mayor said.

Premier Brian Pallister has been criticized for his apparent reluctance to meet with the board of Manitoba Hydro, which cited that fact when it quit. (CBC)

“It’s more helpful when you can get that face-to-face dialogue,” Bowman said. “I represent a city that has 70 per cent of the population in Manitoba and 75 per cent of the province’s GDP.”

In comparison, Bowman said he speaks “quite regularly” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I’ve met a lot with the prime minister. He’s been very available for dialogue and I do appreciate that.”

While Bowman has chatted with Trudeau as part of the regular gatherings of big city mayors, he noted “we have had one-on-one meetings on several occasions.”

Bowman said he met frequently with Pallister’s predecessor Greg Selinger, when the NDP was in power. But he said all leaders are different.

“Everyone is going to have their own style of government, I recognize that,” he said. “I try to be as accessible as possible but I don’t get to meet with everybody that wants to meet with me, either.”

Pallister was heavily criticized late last month when nine members of the 10-member board of directors for Manitoba Hydro resigned en mass. The only member who remained was Progressive Conservative MLA Cliff Graydon.

A statement from board chair Sandy Riley cited multiple points of disagreement with the province but primarily that the board couldn’t get an audience with the premier.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before. Certainly, I raised my eyebrows when I learned of the resignations,” Bowman said Tuesday.

“The individuals that were on the board, these are folks with incredible integrity. These are solid community builders.”