By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The losing candidate in the race for the leadership of Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives is challenging the results, calling for a redo of the vote and pushing to delay the swearing-in of the winner as premier.
Shelly Glover, a former MP, came up short with 49 per cent of the ballot count on Saturday in the race to replace former premier Brian Pallister, who stepped down in September. Glover’s lawyer has written to Manitoba’s lieutenant-governor and has said legal action is coming.
“From the information given to me, there would appear to be substantial irregularities affecting the result, in the counting of votes,” lawyer Dave Hill wrote in a one-page letter Monday to Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon.
“As a result, I will shortly be seeking an order of the Court of Queen’s Bench declaring that the election results are invalid and requiring a new vote. I would respectfully request that you defer the swearing-in of a new premier of Manitoba until the court has ruled on this matter.”
Hill and Glover declined interviews. Hill said he would have more to say once documents are filed with the court. Heather Stefanson is to be sworn-in Tuesday afternoon.
Glover’s campaign had complained throughout the leadership run that many party members did not receive their ballots in time to mail them back before Saturday’s count. The final result gave Stefanson a win by a margin of 363 votes — 51 per cent of the more than 16,000 ballots cast.
Party officials said some ballots that were mailed to members were returned by Canada Post as undeliverable and, in the final days, the party set up mobile locations in several communities where ballots could be picked up and dropped off.
George Orle, head of the Tory leadership election committee, told the weekend convention that a greater percentage of members voted this time around than in the last race in 2006.
“The party announced the results of the count this weekend and has nothing new to add at this time,” Tory spokesman Keith Stewart wrote in an email.
The lieutenant-governor is unlikely to agree to Glover’s request, said a longtime political analyst.
“The lieutenant-governor should really not allow herself to be dragged into this fight within the party because it’s not part of her defined role under our constitutional order,” said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba.
“She’s to have a conversation and gather information and decide that Heather Stefanson … commands majority support in the legislature, and there’s no reason to question why that would be the case. Stefanson had the overwhelming backing of cabinet and caucus.”
A court challenge is also unlikely to succeed, Thomas said, because courts generally allow political parties to settle disputes internally.
“I think they’ll dodge the question, too, and say … this isn’t covered by any constitutional convention. This is a matter within the control of the party.”