By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Outgoing Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is to remain the leader of the Progressive Conservatives for at least a year while the party prepares for a leadership race.
Stefanson said Friday that she believes in the Progressive Conservative party as it evolves with the intention of forming government again in four years.
“We need to ensure the stability as we transition to a new leader, so that they can have a fresh start for the important work of the Official Opposition, and ultimately lead us to victory,” she said in a release.
The party wants to allow enough time for prospective candidates to “put their hat in the ring,” Stefanson added.
She narrowly hung onto her legislature seat in the Winnipeg riding of Tuxedo.
Unofficial results from Elections Manitoba show Stefanson nudged out NDP candidate Larissa Ashdown by 263 votes.
A leadership race is expected to take place within the next year and a half.
Brent Pooles, party president, said he is happy Stefanson is staying on temporarily and will be able to bring her expertise as the leader of the Official Opposition.
“Heather’s commitment to this party is commendable, and her steady hand will ensure that our party holds the NDP’s feet to the fire,” he said in the same release.
Stefanson became the first woman to lead the province after winning a party leadership race when former premier Brian Pallister retired in 2021.
The party is aiming to codify its leadership review at its next annual general assembly.
The Tories began to review their rules for leadership elections earlier this year. When Stefanson became leader, there was a late surge in party membership and many complained they did not receive mail-in ballots in time to vote.
Pooles said at the time the party may look at changing the rule that allows people to buy memberships as late as 30 days before the leadership vote. The party was hard-pressed in 2021 to process thousands of new members and have mail-in ballots sent out and returned within a month.
Meanwhile, Kinew announced Friday that he has brought on 11 people across the province to be part of his transition team to provide advice and assistance.
They include Eric Jacobsohn, an anesthesiologist and intensive-care physician who supported Kinew throughout the campaign, Joy Cramer, chief executive officer and the First Nations advocacy group Southern Chiefs’ Organization, and Mike Spence, the mayor of Churchill.
A date for when the NDP take office has yet to be set.