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This article was published 5/4/2016 (1992 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG - The Manitoba Liberal Party's communications director on Tuesday openly asked members to unite and not to criticize leader Rana Bokhari as she campaigns for the provincial election.
In an email to party members that was also sent to reporters, Mike Brown asked members to stay away from media requests for negative comments about Bokhari and acknowledged that some negative feelings exist.
"Please do not be part of that story. If we learned anything from 2011, it's that abandoning the leader leads to poor showings on election day for everyone," the email read.
It is the latest sign of turmoil in the party, which had one legislature seat when the April 19 election was called, but which has also risen in opinion polls and has been hoping for a breakthrough on election day.
However, a poll released Monday suggested support had dropped to 15 per cent from 20 per cent to put the Liberals back in third place.
Over the last week, the Liberals have lost seven candidates for a variety of reasons, including a decade-old assault charge, improper paperwork and missing a filing deadline.
Bokhari has also sparred openly with the media and has faced criticism over her fiscal platform, which included a plan for longer deficits. She admitted Monday she had been through a "rough week."
Brown's email referred to internal criticism in 2011. That year, in the final weeks of the campaign, Liberal candidate Harry Wolbert said the party was in danger of not winning any legislature seats and then-leader Jon Gerrard had to bear some of the blame.
Brown said he sent the email to reporters as well because he wanted to be transparent about what was happening.
Bokhari did not hold any news conferences Tuesday. The Liberals had a campaign announcement — a promise to improve online campsite reservations — but it was made by Ian McCausland, the Liberal candidate in the Assiniboia constituency in west Winnipeg.
McCausland said he held the event because he's a scout leader and passionate about camping. He said future news conferences might also be held by candidates instead of by Bokhari.
"These decisions are going to be made, obviously, on a day-by-day basis. I mean, it's a very dynamic and interesting campaign," he said.
McCausland said a Liberal government would stop the current practice of opening bookings for all campsites on one day every spring — something that has led to long wait times. Instead, reservations would be staggered and bookings for any particular day would be available six months beforehand.