Manitoba Liberal wants leader Rana Bokhari to resign at post-election meeting

A longtime Manitoba Liberal Party campaign manager wants leader Rana Bokhari to resign when she reports to her party's board of directors Thursday evening, after coming in third in the Fort Rouge constituency in the 2016 provincial election.

Liberal Party president expects 'frank' discussion after failure to get 4 seats and official party status

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari lost her bid for a seat in Manitoba's legislature Tuesday night, losing to the NDP's Wab Kinew. (CBC)

A longtime Manitoba Liberal Party campaign manager wants leader Rana Bokhari to resign when she reports to her party's board of directors Thursday evening, after coming in third in the Fort Rouge constituency in the 2016 provincial election.

The Liberals also failed to gain official party status, winning only three seats. In Manitoba, a party needs to win four seats to become an official party and get all the associated perks. 

"I would be exceptionally disappointed if that were to happen," said Andy Drummond, who was the campaign manager for the Liberal candidate in The Maples, if Bokhari chooses not to step down as leader immediately. 

The Liberal Party has no mechanism to force a leader out, but under the party's constitution there will be an automatic leadership review at the next annual general meeting, which is scheduled for spring 2017.

"I don't think it would be good for the party in any way, shape or form," Drummond said about Bokhari remaining at the helm. 

There's probably going to be a frank discussion about how the election went- Paul Hesse, president of the Manitoba Liberal Party 

Drummond blames Bokhari for not performing better in the election and said he was surprised she didn't resign Tuesday evening. 

"I think you have to lay it at the feet of the leader," he said about the party's failure to take more seats. 

The Liberal campaign manager also said he was disappointed she didn't give a concession speech after her loss, which is customary on election night and usually includes congratulations to the winner and thanks to supporters. 

"There was no tone or tenure for what should follow for the provincial party, and that's not quite leadership," Drummond said. "You have to face the music at the end." 

He would like to see one of the three Liberals elected to the legislature become the leader. Former Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard was re-elected in River Heights Tuesday evening. Cindy Lamoureux (Burrows) and Judy Klassen (Kewatinook) both beat out NDP cabinet ministers to become MLAs.

"The leader should come from inside the legislature, and now we're lucky enough to have three seats," Drummond said.

Mike Brown, the Manitoba Liberal Party's director of communications, said he was unaware there was a meeting of the board Tuesday night, but party president Paul Hesse confirmed the meeting will be at the party's provincial office at 7 p.m.

'Lessons learned'

"There's probably going to be a frank discussion about how the election went," said Hesse. "We elected two new MLAs, two great new MLAs, so we're excited about that, but there were plenty of lessons learned from the election as well." 

He pointed to the failure to run candidates in every constituency as something they want to make sure doesn't happen again. However, he would not comment on who was at fault, nor what he thought Bokhari should do. 

Corey Shefman, campaign director for the Manitoba Liberal Party, will make a presentation to the board of directors at the meeting. 

"The fact that we doubled our vote count and tripled our seats will probably be talked about," Shefman said. "It's no small feat to go from one seat to three."

Shefman would not comment on what he would like to see happen with the Liberal leader, but applauded Bokhari's efforts both as a candidate in Fort Rouge and as the leader of the party. 

"While the other party leaders were in safe ridings, the fact is that Rana chose to run in a riding where she felt she could represent the people the best, but because it was a tougher riding and because she had responsibilities outside of the riding, she was at a disadvantage," Shefman said. 

The Liberals fought the election with substantially less financial resources than the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives, he pointed out.

About the Author

Chris Glover

CBC News Reporter

Chris spent half a decade as a political reporter for CBC Winnipeg, but now that he's returned to his hometown of Toronto, he's excitedly sinking his teeth in all sorts of stories. Discovering new neighbourhoods isn't a 9 to 5 job and after years away, he has a lot to catch up on. When he's not running around the city with a camera, you can find him on the island soaking up the sun or riding the trails along the Don River.