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Dougald Lamont wins Liberal leadership

New Liberal leader Dougald Lamont speaks with media following his win.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

New Liberal leader Dougald Lamont speaks with media following his win.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2017 (389 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Manitoba Liberals have elected Dougald Lamont as their new leader.

Lamont defeated MLA Cindy Lamoureux 296-288 on the second ballot late Saturday night, coming from behind to overcome the powerful Lamoureux family political organization.

A 48-year-old media digital communications specialist and lecturer at the University of Winnipeg, Lamont has a long family history in the Liberal Party, but has never held office.

"I do want to take a seat before 2020," Lamont told reporters. A resident of Fort Rouge, a seat held by NDP leader Wab Kinew, Lamont said he expects seats to open up for by-elections, especially if some MLAs decide to run federally in 2019.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2017 (389 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Manitoba Liberals have elected Dougald Lamont as their new leader.

Lamont defeated MLA Cindy Lamoureux 296-288 on the second ballot late Saturday night, coming from behind to overcome the powerful Lamoureux family political organization.

A 48-year-old media digital communications specialist and lecturer at the University of Winnipeg, Lamont has a long family history in the Liberal Party, but has never held office.

"I do want to take a seat before 2020," Lamont told reporters. A resident of Fort Rouge, a seat held by NDP leader Wab Kinew, Lamont said he expects seats to open up for by-elections, especially if some MLAs decide to run federally in 2019.

Meanwhile, he will meet with the three-member Liberal caucus and expects to be in the legislature regularly to scrum after question period.

Lamoureux led by a wide margin after the first ballot, with 363 votes to Lamont's 301, and then was endorsed by MLA Jon Gerrard, who was dropped off the ballot after getting only 230 votes. Gerrard immediately endorsed the 25-year-old MLA from Burrows, whose father Kevin Lamoureux is a veteran Liberal MP with one of the strongest organizations in Manitoba politics.

But 310 fewer Liberals stayed around for vote the second time.

Lamont said that his campaign worked extra hard to identify his supporters and make sure they stayed. "We talked to people, we prepared them to be sure they'd stick around," he said.

Like his opponents, Lamont emphasized that the Liberals need to rebuild, to raise money, and to organize all 57 ridings. But money alone won't win elections, said Lamont.

He'll be discussing policy with the party, but identified three major planks in his platform Saturday night: creating private sector jobs through creation of a Manitoba business development bank, dismantling regional health authorities and returning health care decisions to local communities, and significantly reducing the number of children in care.

"We have a CFS (Child and Family Services) to prison pipeline," Lamont declared.

The convention ran several hours behind schedule all day. There were technical glitches Saturday morning, and then people lined up for hours to register.

Officials had anticipated a maximum of 900 delegates, but about 1,200 registered. They could not immediately explain how only 894 ended up voting on the first ballot, or how the voting broke down by candidate and areas of the province.

The Liberals blamed technical glitches and an overwhelming response from Liberal members for a delay of 140 minutes in officially opening the convention.

Convention co-chair Sandy Chahal assured delegates that all three candidates had "squeaky-clean pasts".

Very little policy talk made it onto the convention floor, but there was attitude a-plenty: promises galore that this time around, in the 2020 election, the Liberals will be well-organized, strongly financed and with strong local riding associations nominating all 57 candidates by year's end, under the watchful eye of an election readiness team. And that Manitobans will be clear by 2020 that the Liberals are the only alternative to the other parties.

A party that so lacked money that it charged voters $15 admission Saturday, and all spectators $5 each at all-candidates' debates, will make fundraising a major priority —- though none of the candidates spelled out how that can be done.

"Everyone matters —- sometimes we forget it," said Lamont. "There's more to politics than accounting."

There's more to serving people than can "be captured in a report from KPMG," he said.

Lamont said that the Tories and NDP "govern for everyone who elected them, and abandon everyone else. It's easy to divide people, it's hard to bring people together."

The convention was scheduled to open at noon, but by 1 p.m., there were hundreds of people still lined up waiting to register. The convention officially opened at 2:20 p.m.

"We had a technical glitch at the very beginning...it was a software glitch," said party president Paul Brault. That forced Liberals to shut down registration to protect the integrity of the system, he said.

As well, Brault said, "We have an overwhelming response over anything we ever anticipated."

The Liberals currently do not have official party status, with only three MLAs, including Kewatinook MLA Judy Klassen. She had initially run for the leadership, before dropping out to back Lamoureux.

A Probe Research poll conducted for The Free Press has given the Liberals 24 per cent support across Manitoba and 30 per cent in Winnipeg.

Lamont's only try for elected office came in the 2003 provincial election when he was defeated in St. Boniface by Greg Selinger. He came second in the 2013 Liberal leadership race to Rana Bokhari.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 6:44 PM CDT: Updates

9:40 PM: Updates

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