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Brian Pallister steps down as Manitoba Premier

“I believe that now is the time for a new leader” says Pallister.

By Maryam Razzaq

Manitoba Premier, Brian Pallister announced Tuesday that he will be stepping down from his role as leader of the Conservative Party.

Pallister has stated he will not be running for re-election in 2023 and has formally announced his resignation to allow his party to initiate the leadership process. The Premier has not clarified as to when he intends to leave the office.  

“By stepping aside at the midpoint in our second mandate, I believe this will provide sufficient time not only for party members to choose a new leader, but for Manitoba to get to know a new leader and a new premier as well, so we can keep moving this province forward together,” he shared during brief remarks on Tuesday. 

Pallister further stated, “I believe that now is the time for a new leader and a new premier to take our province forward.”

In the 1990s, Pallister served as a member of the Manitoba legislature, then as the Progressive Conservative party leader beginning in 2012. He led the PC party to a majority Government in the 2016 provincial election. Finally, under Pallister’s leadership, the PC party was re-elected in Fall of 2019.

“The honour of my life has been serving as our premier. Manitobans have gifted me with the great privilege of leading our province with the two largest back-to-back majority wins in over a century,” said Pallister through his official announcement.

Pallister has alluded for the past year that he might be leaving office before the next election, which is scheduled for October 2023, but that he was “committed to seeing the [COVID-19 pandemic] through.” Manitoba lifted many COVID-19 restrictions this past Saturday.

In the past several months, Pallister has been experiencing immense pressure to step down. Most recently, he made offensive statements around Indigenous history in Canada about how settlers came to Canada not to destroy, but to build communities, businesses and churches. As a result of his comments, Pallister’s Indigenous Relations Minister, Elieen Clarke resigned. Nearly a month later came Pallister’s apology.

With Pallister’s choice of a replacement for the Indigenous Relations Minister came more controversy. As Alan Lagimodiere was being sworn in, he said that the residential school system “was designed to take Indigenous children and give them he kinds of skills and abilities they would need to fit into society as it moved forward.”

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) issued a statement in response to the announcement made Tuesday by the Manitoba Premier. 

“On behalf of MKO, we are pleased to hear confirmation that Brian Pallister will not seek re-election for the position of Premier of Manitoba. We look forward to working with a leader who is fully committed to truth and reconciliation and working with First Nations in a good way,” shared acting MKO Grand Chief Shirley Ducharme.

With Pallister’s comments surrounding Indigenous communities being perceived as downplaying the harms of colonialism and criticism of his handling of the pandemic in Manitoba, his popularity among Manitoba decreased significantly. 

During a June 2021 Probe Research Omnibus Survey, it was found that Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives only had 29 per cent of decided voters, whereas the opposition party NDP has 47 per cent. 

The Progressive Conservative Party President, Tom Wiebe said that the executive council will be meeting in the days to come to discuss the leadership contest rules. The next leader will be determined by all party members through a one member, one vote basis, in accordance with the party’s constitution. 

“I would like to thank Premier Pallister for all he has done for Manitobans. Since becoming leader, he worked tirelessly to build our party and to unite us in our efforts,” said Wiebe in his statement.

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