Manitoba’s new premier not moving forward with Bill 64 this fall

WINNIPEG — Newly appointed Manitoba Premier Kelvin Goertzen says five pieces of legislation – including the province’s controversial education bill – will not move forward in the fall.

During his first announcement as Premier of Manitoba on Wednesday,  Goertzen said the five bills from former premier Brian Pallister’s legislative agenda would not be moving forward this fall. 

Among the five pieces of legislation is Bill 64, which would reform education in the province and eliminate elected school boards if passed. Goertzen said a new leader has to be able to set their own agenda.

“I have no expectation that that bill will ever return in the future,” Goertzen said, adding there will be a brief sitting of the legislature this fall to remove the five bills and address some budgetary issues.

“It will not exist after we are done with this fall sitting.”

Bill 64 has run into widespread opposition and lawn signs denouncing it have sprung up across the province.

Another bill on the chopping block would crack down on protests that block highways and other infrastructure. A third would allow cabinet to bypass public regulatory hearings on electricity rates and set them unilaterally.

Another bill would remove the automatic right to binding arbitration in labour disputes. The fifth would allow for more private liquor sales.

Goertzen’s intentions are a victory for the Opposition New Democrats, who prevented the bills from coming to a vote in the spring.

“What we saw today is a clear indication from the … government in its current iteration that they bent to the will of Manitobans,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

Goertzen was named as the interim leader of the province’s PC Party and was sworn in as interim premier on Wednesday. Goertzen said it was a small private ceremony with his family at Government House.

“I know that the role that I have is primarily viewed as one of caretaker,” Goertzen said, adding a new premier will be selected in 60 days.

“But I also know that these are times that will still require significant decisions.”

Goertzen said Families Minister Rochelle Squires will serve as the deputy premier.

Pallister officially resigned as Premier Wednesday morning after announcing his intention to step down last month. He said he has decided to leave well before the Progressive Conservative leadership vote on Oct. 30, noting he wants to make sure the race doesn’t become divisive.

Goertzen will remain in the role of interim premier until a new leader is chosen next month.

-With files from Steve Lambert of The Canadian Press

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