Manitoba's Liberals fighting back against internal critics

Manitoba's Liberal Party is on the defensive as it tries to quell internal dissent.

Sparks fly as party's AGM is held in Winnipeg this weekend

Liberal leader Rana Bokhari, the party's president, and its executive director have been the subject of 'borderline slanderous' emails from some one within the party, said executive director Jeff Kovalik-Plouffe Saturday. (CBC)

Manitoba's Liberal Party is on the defensive as it tries to quell dissent with some of its own.

It's an issue which has burst into the public as the party's annual general meeting is held in Winnipeg this weekend. 

The party's executive director, Jeff Kovalik-Plouffe, said the party's lawyer is looking into how someone obtained a confidential list of people involved in past campaigns, as well as current membership lists.

Kovalik-Plouffe said someone who would have had access to the list through proper means at some point is now using it to send anonymous emails "against the party."

He said the emails contained comments that were "borderline slanderous" against him, the president of the party, Robert Young, and the party's new leader, Rana Bokhari. 

Bokhari brushed off the internal dissent.

"You know it's just not a concern for us moving forward," said Bokhari. "The majority of this membership is excited to be a part of this party … they are behind the leader, and I think that this entire weekend was absolute evidence of that."

"There's been a couple of people who've been quite outspoken in their disdain for the leader and some of the new people she's brought in to fill board of directors positions," Kovalik-Plouffe said. "But they are an extreme minority. Unfortunately, they have been acting quite loud."

Manitoba's Liberal Party is holding its AGM in Winnipeg this weekend, amid internal dissent critical of party leadership. (Louis-Philippe Leblanc/CBC)

He said the critics want to derail the AGM publicly. 

"There is someone or some people who are trying to do some internal damage," he said. "But I believe that the public will see this AGM and our party for what it is. And that is a united front." 

The party said Liberals who have received some of the anonymous emails are also concerned. 

"We have received at least 50 emails back from people saying, 'You need to find these people. We will do anything to help you. This is not good for the party,''' he said. 

He said he doesn't believe the internal issue will hurt the Liberals in the next provincial election, which will take place either in the fall of 2015 or the spring of 2016, depending on the timing of the next federal election. 

Kovalik-Plouffe said the party has not ruled out asking police to investigate.