Liberals nominate party Leader Dougald Lamont to run in St. Boniface byelection

The Manitoba Liberals has nominated party Leader Dougald Lamont to run in the coming St. Boniface byelection.

Lamont previously ran in 2003 and lost in St. Boniface to Greg Selinger

Former Manitoba Liberal party leader Sharon Carstairs (1984-93) holds up current leader Dougald Lamont's hand as the Liberals nominated Lamont to run in the St. Boniface byelection. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

The Manitoba Liberals have nominated party Leader Dougald Lamont to run in the upcoming St. Boniface byelection.

Lamont, 48, was elected party leader last fall, despite not holding a seat in the legislature, and will seek to fill a vacancy left in the French community by long-time MLA and former premier, Greg Selinger.

Lamont ran in St. Boniface and lost to Selinger in 2003. He announced last month he would seek the Liberal nomination in St. Boniface.

"It's an incredible community filled with energy, with pride an incredible heritage and culture and equally bright future," Lamont said. "It was 30 years ago tonight, in 1988, that Sharon Carstairs led the Manitoba Liberal Party from one seat to 20 to become the first female leader of the Opposition."

I have met too many people across this province who feel abandoned.- Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont

Former senator Sharon Carstairs served as leader of the provincial Liberals from 1984-93.

At the event, she recalled memories of Liberal MLA Neil Gaudry, who held the seat in St. Boniface for 11 years before he died in 1999.

"Neil gave such wonderful service to us for 11 years in the legislature until his most untimely death, and I am convinced that Dougald will honour that legacy in exactly the same way," she said.

Selinger was elected after Gaudry's death during a byelection and remained MLA for the francophone community until last month when he resigned.

He quit provincial politics in March under pressure from NDP Leader Wab Kinew after allegations against former NDP MLA Stan Struthers surfaced. Several women came forward with allegations Struthers inappropriately touched them while he was in office.

The former cabinet minister has apologized for his conduct

Some of the incidents are alleged to have taken place while Selinger was NDP party leader. Selinger apologized and later agreed to resign.

Carstairs characterized budget cuts under the Pallister government as "ruthlessness" that has been matched by the "ruthlessness" in how the NDP treated Selinger in his final days days.

Lamont, who has worked on past Liberal election campaigns, said the 2020 provincial election is an important opportunity for Liberal voters to turn out at the polls.

He said most Manitobans haven't had a pay raise in a generation.

"That cuts across all lines: age, gender, Indigenous, non-Indigenous, newcomer, whatever your faith, whatever your political belief. That's why we need change. For my children and for yours," he said.

He criticized the Tories and NDP for failing to raise a provincial housing allowance for people under social assistance.

"I have met too many people across this province who feel abandoned," Lamont said.

He emphasized a need to protect Hydro as a public utility, improve the education and health systems and reduce the number of kids in the care of Child and Family Services.

The province has not released a date for the coming St. Boniface byelection.