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Manitoba election candidates make final pitch to trucking

Posted: April 11, 2016 by Dave Nesseth

WINNIPEG, MB – Ahead of Manitoba’s April 19 election, three party leaders detoured from the campaign trial Friday for a last-minute policy pitch to the province’s trucking industry.

The Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) had invited the leaders to speak briefly prior to the association’s 84th annual general meeting at Winnipeg’s RBC Convention Centre.

A new Insightrix Research poll has PC Leader Brian Pallister well ahead in the election race with 49% support from the 800 Manitobans polled. The NDP and Liberal parties polled at 24% and 22%, respectively.

PC Deputy Leader Heather Stefanson spoke in place of Pallister, who was unable to attend. For her speech, Stefanson focused on the need to find ways to keep youth in Manitoba. She said that since 1999, more than 20,000 youth have left Manitoba seeking job opportunities in other provinces.

“We need to stop this exodus,” said Stefanson.  “These are the truck drivers of tomorrow.”

Stefanson celebrated the fact that five of Canada’s top 50 carriers are based in Manitoba, a province that also boasts about 425 for-hire trucking companies. It all adds up to the trucking industry generating some $2 billion each year towards the province’s GDP.

Premier Greg Selinger of the NDP told association members that CentrePort Canada, a massive tri-modal dry port, continues to this day to boost Manitoba’s business profile into exciting new territory. Six months after opening in late 2013, nearly 17,000 vehicles were using CentrePort each day, with truck usage 11 per cent higher than had been expected.

“With CentrePort, we’re a gateway to North America,” said Selinger.

The Premier spoke primarily about Manitoba’s ongoing infrastructure projects, and the importance of a few in particular, namely the completion of Ring Road and protecting Highway 75 against flooding.

“It’s not just enough to pave these highways. It’s important to do this work in the right way,” said Selinger, who says Manitoba currently has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. “If you folks are doing well, I know we’ll have jobs here,” he added.

Liberal candidate Rana Bokhari touched on some of the more psychological aspects of the trucking industry, noting that she wants to ensure both men and women on the road have access to quality mental health services.

“If drivers are feeling stressed, we want them to get the help they need,” said Bokhari. “There are so many changes coming with technology, and change causes stress.” 

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