Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Unite, offer alternative: Bokhari

'Set aside any internal politics' and woo centrists, leader tells Grits

  • Print
Provincial Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari speaks at the Liberal annual general meeting in Winnipeg Saturday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Provincial Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari speaks at the Liberal annual general meeting in Winnipeg Saturday. Photo Store

Rana Bokhari says Manitoba Liberals must bury their differences and build a "truly progressive and fiscally responsible alternative" to the NDP and Progressive Conservatives.

In a speech to the party's annual general meeting Saturday evening, the novice Liberal leader portrayed the Grits as the true centrists.

"It is commonly said that elections are won by gravitating to the centre and we have all seen that around election time as our opponents try to become Liberals," she told a banquet crowd of 200. "They try to occupy the centre. Well, my friends, we don't have to gravitate or try to occupy the centre. We are the centre."

But she said a party that's known for its internal bickering must stand united.

"We must set aside any internal politics that we Liberals are unfortunately so well-known for and instead push forward together -- because this is a party that is strongest not in spite of our differences but because of our diversity."

Bokhari, a political neophyte, surprised some observers by winning the party leadership last October over two more established party members. She has since set about to modernize the party and rebuild it from the ground up.

A small faction within the party has accused her of attempting to centralize power and failing to pay enough attention to the grassroots. However, Bokhari appeared to have emerged from the two-day convention in a stronger position than before.

Elections for board-of-director positions at the convention -- as well as regionally in the past month -- brought 13 new faces to the 25-member board.

"We have a party that's motivated and united and there was never any doubt about that," Bokhari told reporters after the meeting.

Bokhari promised to hold a series of grassroots meetings across the province in the coming months to help the party build its policy platform for the next general election, expected in two years.

Apart from a promise to stake the middle ground in promoting financial accountability and social responsibility, Bokhari offered few specific policy ideas Saturday night.

However, she did promise to "work to eliminate the regressive payroll tax" charged to larger businesses, and she promoted greater investment in "urgent care facilities" to take the pressure off hospital emergency rooms.

She also criticized the NDP for mismanaging Manitoba Hydro and setting it down a "dangerous path of continuous rate increases" that will squeeze the middle class.

Earlier in the day, a potential showdown between Bokhari loyalists and some disgruntled members was averted when proposed constitutional amendments that would have reduced the size of the board of directors and cut the number of board meetings in a year to six from eight were withdrawn in a motion by one of her key advisers.

Another constitutional amendment, supported by Bokhari, that would have forbidden Manitoba Liberals from doing anything to bring an elected party official or nominated candidate "into disrepute" was voted down by the rank and file in a testy session riddled with disputes over procedure.

The motion had the backing of more than half the members in attendance, but failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority to pass.

Corey Shefman, a Winnipeg lawyer and newly elected party director who brought the motion, said there were several instances during the 2011 provincial election in which party members spoke "very poorly about our candidates and our chances of election."

During the campaign, a then-party board member mused that the Liberals could be wiped off the political map and the "writing may be on the wall" for then-leader Jon Gerrard. Two former Liberal MPs also made headlines for publicly supporting NDP incumbents over the party's own candidates.

However, others at Saturday's meeting opposed the motion arguing it was unenforceable and violated free speech.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2014 A5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 110621 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 -  Doug Chorney, president Keystone Agricultural Producers flight over South Western Manitoba to check on the condition of farming fields. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
my2011poy
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google