The longstanding and ongoing debate about public and private auto insurance surfaced during the Manitoba election in May, when Gordon Steeves, now a Tory political candidate, suggested the private sector should be providing auto insurance in the province.
Steeves made his remarks in a May 2011 Shaw TV interview, a short excerpt of which aired on YouTube.
In the YouTube video, Steeves says: "For me, this comes down to a very basic philosophical question, ‘Is auto insurance a service that government needs to provide, or could this service be provided by the private sector?' The obvious answer to me is, ‘Yes it could.'"
In an Op/Ed piece published in the Winnipeg Sun on Aug. 30, writer Tom Brodbeck says the Manitoba Tories have since distanced themselves from the comments Steeves made in May.
As reported by Brodbeck, the Tories say Steeves' remarks were his own and do not reflect the policy of the party. They add Steeves made his remarks before he was nominated as a Tory candidate.
"Gord's comments do not reflect the party policy at all," Greg Burch, spokesman for Tory leader Hugh McFadyen, is quoted as saying in the Sun. "We will not be privatizing any Crown corporation."
Still, that hasn't stopped the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) from responding in late August with a public campaign to explain why public insurance is "the smart choice for Manitoba families and communities."