Many Manitoba Tory members still unable to vote for next leader, candidate says

Jennifer Howard says only 200 votes were cast in the beginning of convention and half the delegates present voted for winner Jeremy Tory Many Manitoba Tory members still unable to vote for next leader,…

Many Manitoba Tory members still unable to vote for next leader, candidate says

Jennifer Howard says only 200 votes were cast in the beginning of convention and half the delegates present voted for winner Jeremy Tory

Many Manitoba Tory members still unable to vote for next leader, candidate says

A northern Manitoba Conservative leadership candidate says there were many voting issues at the party’s convention over the weekend and there is still about 1,300 votes to count.

Jennifer Howard, who had 18.9% of the vote in a secret ballot at the weekend, says her campaign manager has counted 203 early votes left from the start of the convention in Winnipeg.

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“It appears about 1,100 plus ballots were counted,” Howard said. “Of those, only about 200 were cast in the beginning of the convention. About 150 were cast by people attending the meeting and they were identified as supporting an existing candidate.

“It appears as if roughly half of the people who were present voted to elect the new leader. This is especially significant given the fact that so many of the delegates were selected through an initial process.”

Howard says she’s encouraging the party’s voting machines to double check the ballots left in the machines to ensure the votes are legitimate.

She said every Conservative vote will go to the next leader.

The race to replace Manitoba premier Brian Pallister as leader of the Manitoba Conservatives began on Saturday when founder Andrew Scheer was first elected to replace Stockwell Day as party leader.

Pallister surprised many when he resigned at the end of March, and daycare worker Michelle Stilwell was chosen to replace him as premier of Manitoba.

Candidates Jeremy Brock, Stan Struthers, David Schryer and Howard were vying for the leadership of the Manitoba Conservative party, and thus Pallister’s successor.

Pallister was asked by a reporter on Monday if he will run for re-election next year if he gets the title of NDP leader or premier of Manitoba.

“I’m in the same boat you’re in: I’m a New Democrat leader or premier of Manitoba,” he said. “It just happened the way it happened. I can’t ask anybody else in the position to pass themselves off, particularly after only being in it for two months.”

Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who left the Conservative party to form his own party last summer, was among those who nominated Howard to lead the Manitoba Conservatives.

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During a speech about the needs of rural Manitoba, Stilwell told delegates to get behind the new leader.

“Now we need to come together and put our collective full energy and support behind this new leadership team,” she said.

“I’m a northern person and I’m incredibly proud to have set this goal. I’m an advocate for those who don’t have political power, I believe we need to spend more time finding solutions to bring our resources back to our communities, and as the new leader of Manitoba, I will work to change the status quo and empower our rural community.”

The new leader will be chosen in a leadership vote on Saturday.

Later in the day, the western Canada-based MNP LLP conducted a telephone survey of 306 party members across Manitoba.

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The NDP – which is embroiled in a court fight over a controversial land deal to benefit former premier Greg Selinger’s family – led with 34% of the votes. Liberal leader Wab Kinew finished second with 23% followed by Stilwell with 13% and Andrew Thomson with 11%.

According to the preliminary results, about 7,300 votes were cast.

The telephone survey was completed Saturday and Sunday and has a margin of error of 5.2% 19 times out of 20.

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