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Heather Stefanson will become Manitoba’s 24th Premier.
Shelly Glover, his only opponent in the CP leadership race, is not ready to concede defeat.
The province’s ruling Progressive Conservatives picked Stefanson as their new leader on Saturday in a 51% vote, showing membership support was practically split in half.
Stefanson, who received 8,405 votes, edged Glover with just 363 votes. Glover received 8,042.
“I am ready to take on the many challenges we face. We will face these challenges together, ”Stefanson said in his victory speech at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg.
“A strong PC party is vital for a strong Manitoba and together I know we will emerge from this race more united than ever by focusing on securing a third consecutive majority government in 2023.”
Glover did not officially concede, citing insufficient information to do so.
When asked by a reporter what position she would like in Stefanson’s government, Glover replied, “Prime Minister. “
Stefanson, an MP for Tuxedo who served as health minister under former prime minister Brian Pallister, will face the immediate challenge of convincing some skeptical party members that the campaign results are in fact the members’ will.
The end of the two-month campaign was strewn with a flood of complaints about missing and late ballots and criticism.
“I think we should not trust a political organization that does not know how to put a stamp on an envelope and put that envelope in the mailbox to manage our health system,” said NDP leader Wab Kinew on CBC.
A call from Glover, a former police officer and MP for Saint-Boniface, for a delay in delivering results was rejected by the party leadership.
Stefanson expressed his complete confidence in the process.
George Orle, chairman of the party’s leadership elections committee, vouched for the integrity of the vote and denied that it was an “incompetent and disorganized campaign that deprived people of their rights “.
“Anything about the missing or undelivered envelopes is false,” said Orle, who assured members that security firm Paladin oversaw the delivery of the ballots.
“Each ballot had to be verified for the PIN code, it had to be verified for the ID. Only then was it placed in its sealed envelope in our ballot box.
“We have reached around 96% of deliveries,” said Orle.
“Every envelope that came back as undeliverable came out to us again,” Orle said. “We replaced over 1,000 ballots that we confirmed had not been received. We did it appropriately.
On Saturday, the management team scurried across Manitoba carrying ballot boxes to pick up ballots at drop-off points.
Orle blamed COVID-19 and an increase in membership for delivery issues.
After the unpopular Pallister resigned in September, people returned to the party.
Membership grew from 5,500 to over 25,000 in three weeks.
“We admit that we were not able to circulate all the ballots to everyone who might have been entitled to them,” Orle said, explaining that some members were not in the database.
“We have around 17,000 returned ballots,” said Orle, adding that a 65% ratio is “something to be proud of”.
Of the 16,465 ballots cast, 82 were canceled and 17 were considered contested.
Meanwhile, Stephanson will also face the formidable task of convincing disgruntled Manitobans that she is not an extension of Pallister whose scorned health policies and crippling COVID mandates she willingly implemented.
If all goes well, Stefanson will replace Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Goertzen in a swearing-in ceremony, the date of which will be announced.
Slobodian is the Manitoba Senior Columnist for the Western Standard