Ken Waddell announces he will seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

Today, I am formally announcing that I am seeking the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

Manitoba stands at a crossroads today. I want to be part of leading Manitoba forward. We have to make a decision about our future. We have to answer a key question: Do we continue on the road to mediocrity of NDP socialism and huge public debt? Or, do we empower Manitobans to achieve a level of freedom and prosperity that only a Progressive Conservative government can bring.

Manitoba is drowning in debt and burdened by bureaucracy. The only real job growth in Manitoba has been in public sector jobs. In spite of huge government expenditures and several deficit budgets our people, young and old are leaving Manitoba. Our economy is stagnating.

If we could describe our present government in one word it’s mediocrity.

Our farm economy is in turmoil and our government’s answer to that is to pretend they are supporting the cattle slaughter industry. What they actually doing is ignoring both new and existing slaughter plants and to blame everything else on the federal government.

Some weeks ago our Minister of Agriculture gave a so-called keynote speech at Ag Days and the major announcement in that speech was some superficial tinkering with crop insurance rates for frost damaged crops. The only major farm initiative to come forward lately, the Water Stewardship Act, in its present form will cripple farming, food production and food processing in Manitoba. At the same time, the Act will do nothing to improve water quality. It may as well be re-titled the Manitoba Farm Family Extinction Act

Our health care system is ranked 10th out of 10 by the Conference Board of Canada and we are spending 42 per cent of our budget to be in 10th place. A PC government can do better than that and I want to be the leader of that government

We have good candidates who have already announced their intention to run for leader. I could support either of the candidates that have declared so far. But in politics, just as in the Olympic speed skating, you need many competitors to make a race. When the race is over, the winner is be congratulated and supported by their team-mate competitors. That’s the way it should be.

I obviously bring a rural and farm based experience to this race. But in addition to my agricultural industry experience, I have developed a business, community, provincial and national perspective that can be of great value in leading our party.

Should I win the leadership, the next obvious question is where would I run for a seat in the legislature?

We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it but let me just explain that my home riding, Ste.Rose constituency, I anticipate, will be held for many years to come by my longtime friend Mr. Glen Cummings. However, in Western Manitoba, there are four seats held by NDP MLAs who I would be more than willing to help out with their retirement plans.

I look forward to the next few weeks.

In this very democratic, one-member-one vote method of electing a leader, anything can happen. Any one who buys a membership in PC Manitoba will get a ballot. In fact, the easiest way to get a membership is to go to www.pcmanitoba.com and sign up on-line or call 1-800-663-8679. People don’t have to go to a convention to vote for the leader. There will be ballot boxes in each constituency on convention day April 29. The plan is to have mail-in ballots as well. It will be an exciting race now that we have several candidates.

People will have several opportunities to hear the candidates including the Spring Dinners in Winnipeg on March 16 and here in Brandon on March 21.

There will be several regional all-candidate meetings scheduled as well.

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