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Stefanson no longer leader of Manitoba PCs, interim leader to be named soon

Heather Stefanson is no longer leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

The former premier made the announcement over the weekend saying she was stepping down Monday. She said the role was an honour of a lifetime.

“Looking forward, I’m excited to watch how our party continues to grow as our members select a new leader and hold this NDP government’s feet to the fire,” Stefanson said in a statement.

Stefanson was first elected as an MLA in 2000 and was the first woman to be premier in Manitoba.

“She’s got a lot to be very proud of,” said Brent Pooles, the PC Party President.

Caucus is expected to name a new interim leader this week who will have to guide the party during question period and navigate two ethics complaints about the silica sand controversy.

“It’s not just a caretaker interim leader. It’ll be somebody who people have to trust in caucus and can handle the media,” said Chris Adams, an adjunct professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba.

The party also voted on rule changes for the leadership selection process, moving away from one member one vote, to a weighted points system for constituencies. This after Stefanson narrowly defeated Shelly Glover in the 2021 leadership contest.

“You have to be very careful of making sure that one area of the province is not given a greater say over the other area of the province so it’s a balanced system,” said Pooles.

Adams said there are already some names to watch – former PC MLA Kevin Klein, current MLAs Obby Khan and Ron Schuler and former Conservative MP Candice Bergen who was campaign co-chair of Stefanson’s recent election run.

“I think they need someone who can straddle between the rural side of the party and the urban,” said Adams.

While no date has been set and no one has declared they want they job, the leadership election is expected to take place later this year in the fall.

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