Former Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson may step down as leader of the Progressive Conservatives sooner than expected.
Stefanson said Wednesday she may leave the Progressive Conservative helm once the party works out the procedures for electing her successor. Party officials are scheduled to discuss leadership rules next month, and are then to present them to grassroots members at the party’s annual general meeting, expected in the new year.
“My commitment was to look at ensuring that we have a smooth transition through that process, so that’s what I’m committed to,” Stefanson told reporters.
Stefanson was asked whether she might step down in January or February if the annual general meeting is held by then.
“Possibly. We’ll see. We’ll determine at the time.”
Stefanson’s comments are in contrast to a press release issued by the Progressive Conservative party three days after the Oct. 3 election. The election saw the NDP sweep to power and end seven years of Tory rule.
The party said Stefanson would stay on until her successor is chosen at a leadership convention that could be 12 to 18 months away.
The party is taking its time to examine the leadership rules after a controversial race in 2021 that saw Stefanson edge out Shelly Glover by a narrow margin. There was a late surge in party membership and many people complained they did not receive mail-in ballots in time to vote.
Stefanson also left the door open Wednesday to resigning her legislature seat. Stefanson was re-elected in her Tuxedo constituency in southwest Winnipeg.
Stefanson has kept a low profile since the election loss. She took two weeks to vacation with family, she said, and has also been working to prepare her caucus for its new role in Opposition.
The legislature is scheduled to reconvene next week for a three-week sitting. Among other measures, the new NDP government has promised legislation to temporarily suspend the provincial fuel tax and recognize Louis Riel as the honorary first premier of Manitoba.
“We’re going to be looking to deliver on those commitments that we made during the campaign,” NDP caucus chair Mike Moyes said.
The NDP has a solid majority with 34 of the 57 legislature seats. The party is confident it will be able to get bills passed, Moyes added.
Stefanson said the Tories can’t commit to supporting the bills until they see details.
She also said the Tories will focus on holding the NDP to account for promises made during the election campaign.
“We will all be working diligently on behalf of Manitobans to ensure that they follow through on the commitments that they have made to Manitobans.”