WINNIPEG — Rana Bokhari is the new leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.
The Winnipeg lawyer, 36, barely squeaked by with enough votes to clinch the leadership on Saturday, collecting 431. A total of 430 votes is needed to win.
The party held their Leadership Convention at the Fort Garry Hotel to replace former leader Jon Gerrard. Fellow candidates Dougald Lamont (285 votes) and Bob Axworthy (131 votes) came in second and third, respectively.
Close to 300 Liberals had registered to cast ballots at the convention, with around 665 voting in advance earlier this week. Poll results were delayed several times, likely given the small margin of Bokhari’s victory.
“Together, we have work to do. We need to expand our membership, by reaching out to those who have lost faith in our politics,” Bokhari said during a speech before results were announced. “We need to ask them to stand with us, to fight with us, to build a movement not just to change our government, but to change our province, too.”
Bokhari campaigned for three months to win over the support of the existing base while also signing up more than 600 new party members.
The party’s profile in the province has been a blip on the political map, with only a single seat of representation in the Manitoba legislature up until recently. Bokhari hopes to reinvigorate support for the Grits and raise support for the party ahead of the next provincial election in 2015.