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Meet the candidates: five who could become premier

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Whoever takes over for Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister will have hugely unpopular shoes to fill.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/08/2021 (478 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whoever takes over for Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister will have hugely unpopular shoes to fill.

A Probe Research/Winnipeg Free Press poll in March found 62 per cent of Manitobans disapproved of Pallister’s performance as leader. In vote-rich Winnipeg, that disapproval rating jumped to 68 per cent.

In June, support for the governing party was plummeting, with the Tories trailing the NDP by nearly 20 percentage points. The gap was even wider in Winnipeg, where the NDP had 55 per cent support, compared to the Tories’ 22 per cent.

Here are a few possible leadership contenders:

Rochelle Squires — The Winnipeg MLA first elected in Riel in 2016 has held the municipal relations and families portfolios, getting to know rural leaders and the Tory base while making a name for herself most recently by signing a historic, $1.2-billion national child-care agreement with Ottawa. The NDP in Manitoba typically win elections if it has the support of the majority of women voters. Squires, who has shared her personal experiences as a young, single mom who benefited from the social safety net, is likely the biggest threat to the NDP in the 2023 election.

Eileen Clarke — The former minister of Indigenous and northern relations made national headlines when she resigned from cabinet in response to the premier’s remarks concerning Indigenous people and his refusal to listen to cabinet ministers. The MLA from Gladstone who was first elected in Agassiz in 2016 is the only member of the Tory caucus who has openly criticized the premier and followed up by taking action.

Kelvin Goertzen — First elected in 2003 in Steinbach, he’s now the minister of legislative and public affairs, government house leader and deputy premier. He has the most experience and would likely have the easiest time stepping into the role of premier, but hasn’t expressed any interest in the job.

Cameron Friesen — Since being elected in Morden-Winkler in 2011, he has served as finance, health and justice minister. He’s popular in rural Manitoba and proven he can manage his files. No matter how competent he is, it’s his name that will forever be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating second wave and his comments as health minister about personal care home deaths being “inevitable.”

Brian Bowman — The Winnipeg mayor will soon be out of a job, having already indicated he will not run for re-election in 2022. Although Bowman was a constant combatant with Pallister since the Tories got back into power, he does have both PC party credentials and instant name recognition for city voters. The question to be answered is whether Bowman, who traded punches with the last Tory leader, could somehow win over the party to be its next leader.

— with files from Dan Lett

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 10:36 AM CDT: Corrects typo

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