Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/3/2012 (3483 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
FORMER Manitoba deputy premier Jim Downey issued a challenge to the province's Progressive Conservative MLAs on Monday -- wake up, step up and start leading.
Downey said the race so far to replace outgoing leader Hugh McFadyen has been uninspiring and more sitting Tory MLAs have to get involved as candidates.
To date, only former Conservative MP Brian Pallister has expressed a desire for the job.
Downey said when he served in government, in the PC cabinets of both Gary Filmon and Sterling Lyon, there was a stable of MLAs who were eager to be leader -- until Filmon resigned in 2000.
"I would think this caucus would be more aggressive," Downey said. "The members historically would be right up to their armpits in this. There was always a list of people who wanted the job."
Instead, it's just the opposite.
The Tory leadership race has been more focused on people who don't want the job and the rumour mill of possible contenders, including former Filmon cabinet minister Darren Praznik and Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Doug Dobrowolski. Neither returned phone messages.
Lawyer Brian Bowman, Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson and restaurateur Jerry Cianflone have each bowed out of the race, leaving only Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen as a possible candidate. Goertzen has said he'll announce his intentions soon.
Pallister has yet to announce his bid, but party insiders say he already has the support of about one-third of party members and is now making sure he has enough financial backing to sustain a campaign.
Insiders added the other two-thirds of the party are waiting for someone else to throw their hat into the ring.
"When is the rest of the party going to wake up?" one said, adding the fear is if Pallister becomes leader, the PCs will swerve further to the right than is palatable to voters in south Winnipeg, where the party desperately needs to gain ground over the NDP.
McFadyen announced his resignation on election night after the PCs only won 19 of 57 seats. The party later decided to hold a leadership convention Oct. 27 rather a proposed date in June.
Former city councillor and Seine River PC candidate Gord Steeves, who also ruled out a leadership bid, said he's surprised no one has publicly announced their intentions yet to lead the party.
"I don't get a sense that there's a lot happening," he said. "It's been exceedingly quiet."
Downey said leadership candidates should start announcing before April 17 when the NDP brings in its next budget, a budget than contains a record summary deficit of $1.12 billion.
"Somebody has to become a fiscal manager with some responsibility," Downey said.
Downey also said he's heard little feedback since he said in November the PCs should consider rebranding itself the Manitoba Party.
"I don't see much public discussion," he said. "They obviously are happy with the way things are. I still think it's an idea worth merit at least in debate."