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Manitoba Political Ad Goes Under Microscope for Fact-Check

February 12, 2016 1:05 PM | The Canadian Press

By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG – In the lead-up to the April 19 Manitoba election, The Canadian Press is running a series of stories called Ad-Curracy, in which we look at the facts behind claims made in political advertisements. This instalment focuses on an advertisement by the NDP, hosted on the party’s YouTube channel:

YouTube video

The ad:

The 15-second video depicts text messages between two unidentified people who are discussing Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister. One asks the other: “Didn’t he call women whiny, bitchy, feeble-minded and fight against a women’s (sic) right to choose?” The other responds: “I thought they were the ‘progressive’ conservatives.”

The claims:

Did Pallister call women whiny or bitchy?

The NDP source is a Globe and Mail article from December 2000, which reported that Pallister, then a Canadian Alliance MP, had sent a letter to Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark in which he said Clark’s party was becoming “a kind of whiny, bitchy Dalton Camp with PMS.” Camp was a male political strategist who had previously been a senior adviser to former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Did Pallister call women feeble-minded?

The NDP source is an exchange in the Manitoba legislature in 1996, when Pallister was the provincial minister of government services. In question period, New Democrat member Dianne McGifford asked whether Pallister would accommodate protesters who wanted to camp on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature. Pallister said: “This particular question, I believe, sets a new low in revealing the feeble-minded attempt of members opposite to garner attention for themselves at the expense of others.” He then went on to say the protesters were already approved to set up across the street from the legislature in Memorial Park.

Did Brian Pallister fight against a women’s right to choose?

The NDP point to a 1998 report from the Ottawa Citizen. Pallister, in a wide-ranging interview with the newspaper’s editorial board, “declined to provide details of his position on several topics such as abortion law — he’s against abortion, he says.”

A 1998 article from The Interim, a newsletter run by the Campaign Life Coalition, reported on the views of Pallister and others who were then running for leadership of the federal Progressive Conservatives. The article states that, in response to a questionnaire, Pallister did not say “whether he would actively support measures to protect children in the womb.” The article says Pallister believed that life begins at conception and “said he would work to ban experimentation on fetal tissue, to exclude abortion as an insured service under the Canada Health Act.”

The Campaign Life Coalition in 2008 counted Pallister as among 108 Conservative, Liberal and Independent MPs who opposed an Order of Canada award for Henry Morgentaler.

In a 2015 interview with The Canadian Press, Pallister said he personally supports abortion rights and would not impose any restrictions if he becomes premier. “No. No. No. That’s not on the radar and it’s not in our planning,” he said.

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