Changes loom for parties after Manitoba election

It's the day after the Manitoba election, and politicians are planning for changes.
Greg Selinger addresses supporters during his victory speech on Tuesday. (CBC)

It's the day after the Manitoba election, and politicians are planning for changes.

Premier-elect Greg Selinger said on Wednesday there will be a "tweaking" of his cabinet to replace some ministers who retired, followed by a throne speech and brief legislature session in late November.

The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, have to plan a leadership convention to replace Hugh McFadyen, who announced on election night he is quitting as party leader.

Election 2011 results

  • NDP: 37 seats
  • PC: 19 seats
  • Liberal: 1 seat

Percentage of vote

  • NDP: 46
  • PC: 43.86
  • Liberal: 7.53
  • Green: 2.52
  • Independent: 0.05

McFadyen, who was re-elected to his Fort Whyte seat in Winnipeg, said he is stepping down because he failed to deliver for the party.

"It's far short of what we had hoped for; it's far short of what we had expected," he said following the results on Tuesday. "It's a disappointing night for all of us in terms of the outcome."

The Tory seat count remains the exact same as it was going into the election, at 19. The NDP, who finished with 37, gained one seat that had belonged to the Liberals before it was vacated in November 2010.

However, that could still change — if just by one seat. Elections Manitoba is looking at a recount in the Kirkfield Park constituency in Winnipeg, which was narrowly won by the NDP with a 29-vote advantage.

Liberal leader faces bills, uncertain future

And Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, who retained the party's lone seat in the legislature, is going to spend a few days thinking about his future.

"I was certainly hoping for more than one seat so the victory in a sense is a bit bittersweet," he said.

In a victory speech Gerrard urged Liberals not to be disheartened, and assured them the party has a future. On Wednesday he said he is aware that questions persist about his leadership abilities.

He plans to have more to say about that in the days ahead.

"I'm talking with Liberals at the moment and we'll see. Right now, I'm also focusing on some other matters because there's not an immediate rush in terms of the leadership situation," he said.

Selinger criticized

While NDP leader Greg Selinger was being praised by party supporters for leading the NDP to a fourth-consecutive majority government, he was being criticized across social media platforms for starting a victory speech before PC leader Hugh McFadyen finished his address.

As a result of the competing speeches, many TV networks dropped McFadyen to focus on the winning party's leader.

Selinger admitted there is a protocol when it comes to who speaks when on election night, but the start of the McFadyen speech kept being pushed back, he said.

"Everybody had held on as long as possible, well over an additional half an hour, 40 minutes, and so the process started moving forward and I was asked to go in and address the crowd which had been waiting for quite a long period of time," he said.

One of those "other matters" will be to find a way to pay off the election bills.

The Liberals are not entitled to a 50 per cent rebate on campaign costs because the party didn't secure the 10 per cent of vote share needed to qualify.

Gerrard said he is putting together a fundraising team to pay the debts.

"We need to make sure we've got a united Liberal party moving forward. That's part of what I'm doing at the moment," he said.

"And part of what I'm doing is making sure that we're looking after all the debts and expenses from the campaign."

He wouldn't say how much the party owes because the bills are still being added up.

Urban-rural split

The election results show a clear split between urban and rural voters.

Selinger said he has spent a lot of time in rural areas, speaking with reeves and mayors, and has good relationships with them.

"The election's over now. That period of intense competition is past and now it's about representing all Manitobans and ensuring we do that," he said.

"The minute you engage in something greater than yourself, a lot of those differences diminish and you get something done."

Searching for a new leader

Selinger said he is ready to roll up his sleeves and get back to his job and already has his to-do list.

"We will make health care even better. We will educate our young people. We will build Manitoba Hydro and move on the economy," he said. "Those are kinds of changes Manitobans have asked for and I'm very honoured to have the chance to move on them."

He wished McFadyen would reconsider his decision to step down, but wished him luck.

"We lose elections, we win elections. I really wish people would take more time but if that's his final decision then I want to honour his contribution and the years he gave to public office, and I know his life will be very positive for him as he goes forward," Selinger said.

PC leader Hugh McFadyen said he is stepping down because he failed to deliver for the party on Tuesday's election. ((CBC))

Longtime PC MLA Bonnie Mitchelson said she's shocked and sorry to see McFadyen step down, calling the 44-year-old an energetic, young leader who could still lead the party to great heights.

"I'm disappointed …and I feel really badly that we didn't do better provincewide," she said.

New PC MLA Reg Helwer in Brandon West said McFadyen's news didn't come as a shock to him.

"We knew that there was a possibility that that might happen if we lost and I guess it's his choice. It's obviously a very challenging position," he said.

Political scientist Paul Thomas said the Tories will likely search for leadership candidates from Winnipeg but expects a candidate from rural Manitoba will also likely step forward.

"There will likely be a rural candidate, although there is no one there who looks leadership-like at the moment that I would single out. And then there's likely to be someone from outside the current caucus," he said.

PC Party president Mike Richards said the executive will begin the search process as soon as possible.

With files from The Canadian Press