Skip to main content

Manitoba Tory leader to step down Monday as delegates set rules for leadership race

Heather Stefanson

Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader and former premier Heather Stefanson has announced she will resign as party head on Monday.

Stefanson had already indicated her plan to resign after losing the Oct. 3 provincial election, but she set a departure date Saturday as Tory delegates met to set down rules for the next leadership race that will determine her successor.

"I believe, and I still believe, that we're going to be the best party to govern this province and I think we have an opportunity after this leadership (contest) of being back in government," Stefanson told reporters.

Stefanson became premier in 2021 after former premier Brian Pallister resigned. First elected to the legislature in 2000, she became the province's first female premier.

"The best part of that is that I know I won't be the last," she said.

Stefanson took over the Tory helm at a time when the party was low in opinion polls and had faced controversy over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and years of fiscal restraint.

She promised a more conciliatory approach and loosened the government purse strings, but Tory fortunes did not rebound.

On the campaign trail for the Oct. 3 election, the Tories ran ads highlighting the fact they had refused to search a landfill where the remains of two Indigenous women are believed to be, citing safety risks from toxic material. The ads were widely condemned by Indigenous leaders and others.

Stefanson said she will keep her legislature seat for the time being, and hinted she may open the seat if the party's next leader comes from outside caucus.

Tory delegates are debating a number of proposed changes to their leadership election rules, including moving away from the current one-member-one-vote system.

The Tories are looking to avoid a repeat of their last leadership race in 2021, when many people did not receive ballots in time to vote by mail.

Leadership contender Shelly Glover lost the race to Stefanson by a narrow margin and challenged the results in court, but a judge ruled Glover failed to show there were any irregularities that would have affected the outcome.

The party's executive is recommending a formula that would cap the influence of constituencies with large membership numbers, but some party members are against the idea. Top Stories

Stay Connected