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Pallister smothers dissent, Fletcher tossed

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By: Graham Lane
Published by the Winnipeg Sun, July 6, 2017

Brian Pallister has often talked about the importance of the PC Party operating as a team. He uses examples drawn from his past experiences with sports and political teams.

Teams are composed of individuals. The best leaders recognize that good results come from teams comprised of members having different skills, past experiences and viewpoints. Great team leaders seek to develop the differing strengths of their members, welcoming their talents and differing views.

Not so with Mr. Pallister. His team is analogous to the “Big Man” team — where there is but one leader and that leader calls all the “shots.” The focus of such “teams” is on the leader — not the team. Big Man teams seldom succeed in the long run, they focus on the leader’s wants at the expense of the team. Unfortunately, this is what is now happening with the PC Party of Manitoba — caucus members with ability having to subjugate their own skills and views to those of the Big Man.

Last week, the PC Caucus voted, allegedly unanimously, to expel Steven Fletcher. Mr. Fletcher, an experienced politician at both the federal (cabinet minister) and provincial level, is the most active back-bencher that this province has seen.

While his colleagues are out days and evenings engaging with constituents and interest groups, Mr. Fletcher’s lack of mobility (he is a quadriplegic) makes it very difficult for him to easily attend glad-handing events. Instead, we have a super-active back-bencher, having drafted and submitted nine private members bills and working on another 30. He invites ideas. Recently, his single-handed opposed the creation of a needless new Crown Corporation — Efficiency Manitoba.

All of these bills and his other actions are fully in line with modern conservative values. There is nothing rebellious in the views he expresses. And, he was not caught up in a sex scandal (as he says, to his own regret). He has publicly supported the premier at public and private events.

Yes, Mr, Fletcher is a different kind of team player — one who should be welcomed and fostered not tossed because he doesn’t fully agree with 100% of the Big Man politics of Brian Pallister.

The foundation of our democracy is based on the Socratic Method — that is, the search for what is best through open discussion and debate. Sadly, the only public discussion we see from the PC party is from one man — Mr. Pallister.

By expelling Mr. Fletcher from the PC Caucus, Brian Pallister sent a clear message to other MLAs, potential candidates, and all PC members at large: if you want a cabinet position or board appointment, toe the party line, which in this case is a party of one.

Thoughtful Manitobans are appreciative of having a government trying to right many of the wrongs left by the NDP — but in any organization, ideas do matter — and discussion and debate are critical. Sadly, Mr. Pallister is again proving his insecurities are to be feared — debate is to be stymied, only one PC voice matters.

PC party members should ask themselves three questions: did you make the right choice in allowing Mr. Pallister to lead the party? Is he the best we could have as premier? Should discussions proceed towards replacing him before the next election?

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