WINNIPEG – For the first time since 1999, the Manitoba Liberal Party will not be running a full slate of candidates in a provincial election.
The Liberals were scrambling to submit their final few nominations with Elections Manitoba before Tuesday’s deadline, and one candidate, Jessica Karlsen in the rural seat of Agassiz, was rejected because of problems with her nomination forms.
Some of the people who signed her nomination wrote down post office box numbers instead of their home addresses, contrary to rules clearly spelled out in Elections Manitoba candidate guidelines.
“The candidate wasn’t aware of that and wasn’t able to get back and get enough signatures in time to get the nomination sorted,” Liberal spokesman Mike Brown said.
Elections Manitoba said submissions from two other Liberal candidates were still being reviewed, hours after the 1 p.m. deadline passed.
The governing New Democrats and opposition Progressive Conservatives have both managed to field candidates in all 57 constituencies. The Green party has 32 candidates and the upstart Manitoba Party has 17.
The April 19 election date is fixed under provincial law and all parties had more than a year’s notice. Still, Brown said, getting all candidates in place by Tuesday’s deadline was a challenge.
“Some of those that expressed interest (early) either had other commitments or things that sort of pushed them away at the last minute. So part of the challenge was that we thought we had people in places and then lost them.”
The Liberals, who hold just one legislature seat, have faced uphill battles over the years in terms of fundraising, attracting candidates and organizing for elections.
After the 2011 election, Liberal executive director Dennis Trochim pleaded guilty to forging nomination signatures in order to get Liberal candidates in place in two constituencies.
Court was told Trochim cracked under pressure because he was the official agent for 12 candidates and could not keep up with the workload. He was fined $3,500 for an offence under the Elections Act and was fired by the Liberals.
Brown said it’s unfortunate that the Liberals don’t have a full slate this time around.
“If you want to apply for government, you want to apply in all the locales in the province. We lost one on a technicality … so that’s disappointing, but we soldier on.”