'Now is the time for a new leader': Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister not seeking re-election
Brian Pallister will not be seeking re-election as Premier of Manitoba in the next election, but will remain in office for now.
Pallister made the announcement Tuesday afternoon following a Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba Caucus meeting in Brandon.
"I believe that now is the time for a new leader and a premier to take our province forward," Pallister said. "Accordingly, a new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba will lead our party into the next election."
Pallister won the party leadership in 2012, and was first elected as the 22nd premier of Manitoba in 2016. He was re-elected as premier in 2019.
"By stepping aside at the midpoint in our second mandate, I believe this will provide sufficient time not only for party members to choose a new leader, but for Manitobans to get to know that new leader and premier," Pallister said.
The premier did not say when he would be stepping aside, and did not respond to questions from reporters during the announcement.
PALLISTER REMAINS AS PREMIER FOR NOW, PARTY TO SELECT NEW LEADER
Pallister's press secretary told CTV News he remains as premier, but has asked the PC Party to initiate the process of selecting a new leader.
In a statement posted to Twitter minutes after Pallister's announcement, PC Party President Tom Wiebe said he had been notified earlier in the day.
"In the coming days, I will convene a meeting of our party executive council to determine rules for a leadership election," Wiebe said in the statement. "As per our party constitution, the leadership election will be by all party members on a one member, one vote basis."
The next provincial election is slated for 2023.
OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS PALLISTER LEAVES LEGACY OF COVID FAILURE AND RACISM
Manitoba Leader Wab Kinew criticized Pallister's decision to step aside in a pandemic, but said he feels Pallister's departure was prompted by his controversial comments.
"Let's be honest, the premier's statement today was spin. We all know it was his offensive statements that are the reason that he is announcing the fact that he is leaving now," he said.
"His legacy will be a failure on COVID and racism towards Indigenous people."
PALLISTER TOUTS 'SCANDAL-FREE' TIME IN OFFICE
During his announcement Tuesday, Pallister touted his time in office saying, "We ran a clean government with real integrity that was scandal free."
However, the past few weeks have been riddled with controversy within Pallister's cabinet.
In early July, Pallister said the settlers who came to Canada didn't come to destroy, but to build communities, businesses and churches.
The comments sparked backlash from Indigenous leaders in the province. Shortly after his comments, Pallister's Indigenous Relations Minister Eileen Clarke resigned.
But controversy continued in the PC cabinet when Clarke's replacement Alan Lagimodiere, just hours after being sworn in, said the residential school system, "was designed to take Indigenous children and give them the kind of skills and abilities."
Lagimodiere later apologized for his comments.
Nearly one month after making the comments, Pallister issued an apology, saying his comments created a 'misunderstanding.'
MKO LOOKS FORWARD TO WORKING WITH NEW LEADER
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Acting Grand Chief Shirley Ducharme said the organization was pleased to hear Pallister will not be seeking re-election.
"We look forward to working with a leader who is fully committed to truth and reconciliation and working with First Nations in a good way," Ducharme said in a statement.
LIBERALS EYE PALLISTER'S RIDING, SAY HE IS A SPECTRE THAT WILL HAUNT THE PC PARTY
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the news is not surprising, and said this is a turning point for the province.
"We'll see whether the PC Party is able at all to shake loose of Mr. Pallister's legacy," Lamont said. "I think he is a spectre that will continue to haunt the PCs for the next few years."
He said the Liberal Party is now eyeing up Pallister's riding of Fort Whyte as a potential Liberal seat if a provincial by-election is called.
CHOOSING NEW LEADER WILL TAKE TIME, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR SAYS
Kelly Saunders, a Brandon University political science professor, said whomever the party chooses as its new leader will become the next Premier.
“We do need a Premier, right. That is the parliamentary system,” Saunders said.
“The party will need to pick a new leader — that is going to take some time. Are we talking three months down the road? Six months down the road? A year down the road? This is all going to take some time to unfold.”
Saunders wasn’t surprised by Pallister’s decision because of previous comments he’s made about his political future. But Saunders pointed out, Pallister had been planning to stay on as premier through the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re not out of the pandemic yet and the timing, I think, is a little coincidental just coming on the heels of some of the very troubling comments that he made on issues related to reconciliation,” she said.
Saunders suggested Pallister may have been facing pressure to step aside now to salvage the party’s fortunes.
Pallister said Manitoba is well positioned to recover from the pandemic.
He said that’s why now is the right time for him personally and for his family to leave public life after nearly 30 years.
“It’s not easy to make the decision to leave, but the question has been answered,” Pallister said. “I don’t think there’s a better time than now for me to step aside.”
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