Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pallister's Palace: Why is this news?

Opposition Leader, Brian Pallister
For two days in a row I read online articles about Manitoba Opposition leader, Brian Pallister being criticized for his newly purchased a $2-million Winnipeg home.

Some media outlets have questioned how the wealthy PC leader can relate to the middle-class when he lives in the lap of luxury. A valid question perhaps, but not one that warrants two days worth of media coverage and a press conference.

It’s foolish. If anything, Pallister’s purchase warranted a brief at most. Even that is pushing it though.

While I understand all too well how challenging a slow news day can be, I don’t understand how this is news.

Bottom line: PC Leader Brian Pallister bought an expensive home. He’s well off, wealthy even. Good for him. He worked hard and was able to purchase this home. Is this relatable to most of us? Probably not, but neither are many aspects of his life I’m sure. 

At the risk of sounding simplistic or whimsical, I beg the question: How can we criticize somebody for working hard, earning money, and buying a home for their family; even if it is an extravagant $2-million mansion? Isn’t he, like the rest of us, entitled to spend his money the way he sees fit? Sure he’s a politician. Sure we, as citizens, are entitled to form opinions about him given the public role he has cast himself in. Sure, I’ll even give the article merit in the fact that some people will see this purchase as something that they can’t relate to, and it may very well affect their vote in the next election. 

What I can’t agree with however, is the fact that the media is criticizing his success. Many of us strive for success in various aspects of life. Owning an extravagant home is clearly one of those successes that the Pallister family has strived for and achieved. We should applaud that.

What I do find disappointing is that Pallister felt the need to publicly defend himself by calling a press conference to discuss his modest upbringing and explain the chain of events that led to his success and wealth. Though I can see why he would want to jump to his own defense, inviting the media to hear him explain himself when he’s done nothing wrong is just perpetuating the story. It’s a move that makes me wonder how he will handle the next election and the slurry of backlash he is likely to get from the opposing parties, especially if the next election is anything like the aggressive battle between Greg Selinger and Hugh McFadyen in 2011.

I should note that I am not PC. I have never voted for the Conservative Party, and I can’t see myself doing so in future. Perhaps that will change one day, but I doubt it. I just feel like there are far more important things happening in our community than this. With newsrooms running on scarce resources, I am frustrated with the attention this non-story got.

-End rant.


  1. Yah, I agree with whatever it was you said...

  2. On Dec 07th every major newspaper in Canada covered the big story of the day on their Front Page except the NDP Free Press which had Pallisters home purchase on their Front Page. The paper did not want to let us know that our Premier finished a distant last to the other 9 Premiers in the country.

  3. Agreed.

    And what's with Shannon Sampert's comments? " The only way to be successful is based on who you know?" sheesh!

  4. Here's some context for you, Shelley, the simple news brief press release rewrite that started it all, Dec. 6, 12:36 p.m.:


    "Winnipeg’s real estate board chalked up only the second $2-million house sale in its 109-year history last month, but couldn’t match November 2011’s record-setting overall sales performance."

    Someone at the Freep obviously went to the property registry to see who bought it -- because journalists are curious creatures and this is what they are paid to do, yes? -- only to discover, lo and behold, Pallister had bought the house in question, giving us Dec. 7, A2 coverage:


    Tying the second $2-million house sale in the 109-year-history of MLS to the fact it was recently purchased by the opposition leader of our province IS a story. This is how the news works. Did they not teach you this in CreComm?

    The first story the Freep ran was good enough and they likely would have left it at that while all the other media in town played catch up on the scoop. Though I see Elisha Dacey at the Metro likes to pretend she was above it all when her rag is usually chasing the other media all over town.

    (Side note: 751 comments on the Freep article speaks for itself. You can't pay for that kind of engagement.)

    Pallister holding a press conference three days after the original story broke to re-explain himself is, simply put, bad PR. THAT is what the bulk of your blog post should have focused on, and would have made for a more interesting, engaging, original read instead of a rant on your misguided understanding of how the news business works.

    Unfortunately, you buried the lede at the bottom of paragraph eight.


    1. Hey Anonymous, thanks for reading Metro! Glad to see you keep up. :)

  5. Hey anonymous "cart before horse": Let me clue you in to how the news business worked on this one.

    People involved in politics and media were yakking all over town for about 10 days, if not longer, about Pallister's house purchase; I got the picture and ad for the property on Nov. 29th. I heard about it weeks before that.

    The newspaper chased that story about Pallister, with the story about real estate as an afterthought.

  6. I'm disappointed in the passionate anonymous person's failure to attach his or her name to the December 11, 2012 6:10 PM post.

    I stand behind my blog post and my perhaps "misguided" view and understanding of how the news business works. (That said, I stand behind my opinions in full disclosure, not anonymously. I think there is merit and credibility in attaching your name to your opinions and arguments. Just saying...)

    I found Bruce Owen's initial story: 'PC leader defends $2-M home' to be overly critical of Pallister's purchase and I did not find it newsworthy. The follow-up (the news conference by Pallister, followed by the article written by the FreeP) was also, in my opinion, not news-worthy. Both sides, however, clearly thought it was.

    This is my opinion, and I am not changing it. Anon, you're entitled to your opinion too. Go with it, if that's how your feel...

    I did not (and will not) slam the Free Press or the writers involved in any of these stories; I very much enjoy reading that paper... I just didn't think this particular piece on Pallister's mansion was news.

    I hope you use your name if you respond. You are clearly passionate about this, and put effort into proving your point. Own it.

  7. Maciek, Gerald, Erik, Curtis.

  8. Yes Pallister bought himself a two million dollar home. Which proves he is capable of balancing his books, and he is a good businessman. Hopefully if he ever becomes premier of Manitoba, he can balance the province's books also. He will have a huge deficit to take care of after two decades of the NDP being in power spending money to the point inwhich we are reaching our own fiscal cliff. If people like Shelley keep voting NDP, Manitoba is going to end up like Greece.

  9. "While I understand all too well how challenging a slow news day can be, I don’t understand how this is news."

    Funny how in this province, with all its serious social problems and questionable leadership there could ever be such a thing as a "slow news day," eh?

    I don't get how Pallister's house is news either, for the record. My understanding, as Marty has suggested above, is this was a politically-motivated story aimed at embarrassing Pallister. Axes need grinding, you know.

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