Manitoba PCs to choose new leader — and next premier — on Oct. 30

Manitoba's Progressive Conservative Party will choose a new leader — and the next premier of this province — on Oct. 30, the party's executive council decided Monday evening.

Would-be successors to Brian Pallister must pony up $25K to run, sign up by Sept. 15

The PCs will choose a successor to Premier Brian Pallister, seen here Monday in Brandon, on Oct. 30. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Manitoba's Progressive Conservative Party will choose a new leader — and the next premier of this province — on Oct. 30, the party's executive council decided Monday evening.

PC members who want to succeed Brian Pallister as premier have to pony up $25,000 to enter the race, sign up by Sept. 15 and sign up at least 1,000 members by Sept. 30, the party said in a statement.

The new leader and premier will be chosen through a one-member, one-vote election. There will not be any delegates to determine the result.

Voting will be conducted by mail and the ballots will be counted in Winnipeg on Oct. 30, the party said.

"Executive council expressed its gratitude to Brian Pallister for his contributions as our leader for the last nine years," leadership election committee chair George Orle said in the statement. 

"They wish to conduct the election quickly and in a fair and open manner so that we can focus on leading Manitoba's pandemic recovery."

University of Manitoba political scientist Royce Koop said the rules for the race favour Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson, the only PC member to declare her candidacy so far.

Stefanson has already secured two thirds of the Tory caucus as supporters.

"The timelines are tight and the obstacles to running are quite high," Koop said. "The fee is quite high for a provincial leadership race.

"The thought is likely that the party can attract viable candidates willing to pay, but a high fee will keep people with little hope of winning out of the race."

Koop said Stefanson won't have trouble raising money to pay the fee and support in caucus means she can more easily sign up members in most ridings.

"Other candidates will have to move quickly to put together the machinery necessary to make those inroads with members," he said.

Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson is the only candidate to declare a run for leader of the Progressive Conservative party. (Darrin Morash/CBC)

Stefanson's campaign declined to address the implication of the leadership-race rules.

"Heather is looking forward to touring the province, meeting with party members and Manitobans and hearing directly from them on their priorities and challenges," campaign spokesperson Jordan Sisson said Monday.

Two party members who have mused about running now say they are considering their options.

Former Conservative MP Shelly Glover said she will meet with family, friends and supporters tomorrow to discuss whether she will run.

"I am very disappointed in the rushed timeline, especially since we are in the middle of a federal election, end of summer holidays, a fourth wave of COVID, preparations for the challenge of return to schools and our poor farmers are still struggling to save their crops and farms," Glover said via text on Monday.

"The provincial party and the caucus know very well that Manitobans are  focused on these things right now, which suggests to me that they really aren't interested in new ideas or the participation of members. This is a missed opportunity. 

"Many old and potential new party members have said they were looking forward to a healthy race with an opportunity to meet candidates and hear their visions for change and renewal but sadly, they have been robbed of that."

Winnipeg Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James) said he too is deciding whether to run.

"Obviously, these rules do present some organizational and financial challenges in a very short window, however we're going to take a few days with friends and family to make our final decision," he said in a statement.

Families Minister and Riel PC MLA Rochelle Squires, who has also mused about running for leader, declined immediate comment. 

Political scientist Koop said the quick timeline for the race also gives the new leader some time to establish themselves.

"Now that Pallister has indicated he'll go, they likely want to move faster rather than slower to provide the new premier with as much time as possible to put their own stamp on the government in time for the next election," he said.

The next provincial election is slated for 2023.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.