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This article was published 27/7/2018 (482 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont was sworn in as MLA for St. Boniface on Friday, heralding the return of a three-party system of government in the Manitoba legislature.
The Liberals now have four seats in the legislative assembly, qualifying them for official party status and the perks and responsibilities that go with it.
"It’s the first time since 1988 that a new caucus has been created," he told reporters, referring to Sharon Carstairs’ 20-seat win that year, which saw the Liberals vault to official Opposition status.
"As it stands, everything (at the legislature) is designed for two parties. And all of that now has to change, even though it might be in subtle ways," Lamont said.
The Liberal caucus’s office staff will double to six members. The party will also play a far greater role during question period and have automatic membership on various legislative committees.
Lamont, 49, won the St. Boniface byelection July 17 by 855 votes over his nearest rival, NDP candidate Blandine Tona. The win represented a steal by the Grits from the New Democrats. The byelection filled the vacancy created by former NDP leader Greg Selinger’s resignation earlier this year. Party standings in the 57-seat legislature have the Progressive Conservatives with 39 seats, the NDP with 12 and the Liberals with four. There are two independents.
The new MLA said he chose July 27 for his swearing-in for sentimental reasons. His parents were married on that day 55 years ago. His grandfather, Liberal-Progressive John Lamont, was also elected on July 27, 1936, for the then-constituency of Iberville, just west of Winnipeg.
In a brief speech after the swearing-in ceremony, before close to 100 supporters and family members in an ornate reception room at the legislative building, Lamont said a prime focus of the party will be economic growth.
That includes higher incomes for "hundreds of thousands" of Manitoba workers who have not had a "real raise" in years, and closing the the gap between rich and poor, he said.
"Instead of recognizing this fundamental problem with our economy, the Pallister government and other governments keep pushing cuts," Lamont said. "We need to invest and work our way out of debt."
Only one of Lamont’s fellow caucus members — Cindy Lamoureux — attended the 30-minute event. Jon Gerrard was on vacation in Saskatchewan, while Judy Klassen was in her northern constituency, Lamont said.
The newly minted MLA, who was elected party leader in October, said he has no plans for a summer vacation himself.
He said apart from taking the odd long weekend, he will be busy organizing his constituency office and preparing for the fall sitting, which begins Oct. 3.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.