Rana Bokhari staying on as Manitoba Liberal leader

Manitoba Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said on Thursday she will not be stepping down as leader of the party.

'Today was just about celebrating the MLAs,' says Bokhari

Manitoba Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari tells CBC she won't be leaving the party's helm. 0:57

Rana Bokhari is not stepping down as leader of the Manitoba Liberals.

In fact, she said, she never considered quitting.

"Now is not the time to disrupt anything, we've got to keep moving forward," Bokhari said after a meeting held in the Manitoba Liberal provincial office Thursday evening. 

Bokhari led the Liberals to triple their seats in the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday — from one to three sitting Liberal MLAs but she faced some significant disappointments on election day as well.

Bokhari was unable to win a seat for herself in Fort Rouge, losing to the NDP's Wab Kinew. And the Liberals fell short of capturing four seats in the legislature, meaning they are unable to meet the threshold for official party status and the perks that come with it.

Nevertheless Bokhari said Liberals were "celebrating" on Thursday.

"It's the first time in I don't know how long, we've had more than one person in the legislature, which is really great," Bokhari said.

Manitoba Liberal Party president Paul Hesse and newly elected Liberal MLAs Judy Klassen, Cindy Lamoureux and incumbent Jon Gerrard, attended Thursday's meeting as well.

Bokhari and Hesse were seen hugging after she announced her plans to stay on as leader.

Earlier on Thursday, Manitoba Liberal Party campaign manager, Andy Drummond, said he hoped Bokhari would step down immediately after the party failed to reach official party status.

Bokhari brushed off the criticisms.

"It's easy to stand on the outside and throw stones ... unless they are choosing to actually help us move forward there's no place for them here," she said of her critics.

Bokhari leadership future will be decided at the Liberal's annual general meeting next year.

For now her focus is to keep candidates and volunteers engaged with the Liberal Party, she said.

"Manitobans deserve that third voice and I feel this election showed that," said Bokhari.

with files from Courtney Rutherford