WINNIPEG — Manitoba Liberals will focus on election readiness as the party holds its annual general meeting in Winnipeg this weekend.
In an interview, provincial Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari played down recent reports of internal bickering within the party, saying the number of disgruntled members is “very, very small.”
She also fended off accusations that the law firm that employed her before she took over as Liberal leader in October charged exorbitant rates to residential school survivors.
“I am confident that Liberals are going to come out of this weekend more motivated, confident to reach out to their neighbours, to their friends — inviting them to support a new progressive alternative for Manitoba,” said Bokhari, as party delegates gathered for the AGM Friday.
Bokhari does not yet hold a seat in the Manitoba legislature, nor has she yet indicated where she will run.
The provincial Liberals, however, have climbed considerably in the polls since she assumed the top job. According to a recent Free Press/Probe Research poll, the Grits have the support of 23 per cent of decided voters in Manitoba, compared with less than eight per cent on election day.
Both the federal and provincial wings of the Liberal party are holding their AGMs at the same time. The next federal election is expected in October 2015, with the provincial election scheduled for the following spring.
The provincial Liberal AGM kicked off Friday night with a business meeting and a reception. Today, there will be sessions on “building a platform from the ground up,” “fundraising 101,” “politics at the local level,” and “winning outside the Perimeter.”
Bokhari won’t formally address the meeting until its concluding event Saturday evening, when she will share top billing at the party dinner with Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux.
The party is also putting off discussion of an election platform until later this year when a committee will travel the province seeking local input.
Bokhari said she is committed to laying a solid foundation for the party before it deliberates policy issues. She said Liberal grassroots organizing is taking place in some regions for the first time in several years.
» Winnipeg Free Press