NDP MLAs vow to rebuild party and find 'passionate' leader

After a devastating loss to Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives in April’s provincial election, the Manitoba New Democrats must now begin to rebuild their battered party.

Newly elected New Democrat MLA’s were sworn in at the legislature Monday, after choosing interim leader over t

The NDP MLA's were sworn in to their roles on Monday. Interim party leader, Flor Marcelino, lead the diminished NDP into the ceremony. The NDP are down to 14 MLA's from 35 last election. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

After a devastating loss to Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives in April's provincial election, the Manitoba New Democrats say they must now begin to rebuild their battered party.

On Monday, 13 of the 14 elected NDP MLAs took the oath of office. Jim Maloway was the lone exception as a recount is underway in Elmwood after 101 votes separated him from second-place and Progressive Conservative candidate Sarah Langevin. 

The PCs said Monday they have dropped their request for a recount in The Maples.

Looking for a new leader 

The swearing-in ceremony marks the beginning of a rebuilding process and the quest to find a new leader.

"All of us, in caucus, want a leader who is passionate and committed to serving all Manitobans," said Flor Marcelino, the party's interim leader.
The interim leader of the NDP party, Flor Marcelino, was sworn in as an MLA Monday, along with the rest of her caucus. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

On Saturday the party announced Marcelino, MLA for  Logan, would lead the party until a new leader can be chosen. Marcelino would not give a timeline on when that would be, only that she hopes it's not longer than a couple of years.

She says right now she is focused on the party's new role as the official opposition.

"[To] do the best that we can as an opposition to the new government and also rebuild our party."

Marcelino used the words hope, optimism, and unity in her address to the caucus. Marcelino admitted unity is still elusive after a very public leadership revolt in 2015 fractured the party.

"Just like any family, there are differences and sometimes a falling out. But we are a strong family and we can get over our differences because we have great commonality," said Marcelino.

She says she's not interested in the job of leader on a permanent basis.

NDP needs 'generational change'

Possible candidates for leader may be one of the NDP's up and coming stars like newly-elected Wab Kinew or returning MLA Kevin Chief.
Newcomer Wab Kinew says he's focused on learning his new role as MLA, and not yet thinking about who the new leader might be. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Kinew says his first priority is serving his constituency of Fort Rouge and getting the hang of his new role.

"Right now I'm thinking about learning how to be an MLA and that's consuming all my time," he said.

Returning MLA for Fort Garry-Riverview, James Allum, says he's excited to see who might step forward for the leadership bid. Allum would not speculate who might or whether he would himself.

He says Marcelino's interim role reflects the type of change Manitobans want to see from the NDP.

"I think we need generational change in the NDP, I think that's what Manitobans told us. Flor represents a different face of Manitoba in the 21st century and I believe others are going to step forward for the leadership who will also represent the face of Manitoba in the 21st century," said Allum.
Returning MLA, James Allum, says he hopes to see generational change within the party. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Allum says it's important to focus on the future of the party and let go of the past.

"I don't think looking in the rearview mirror makes any sense. We're looking forward and [we're] delighted to be back in the legislature," he said.