Steinbach-area ag consultant becomes new leader of Manitoba Green Party

The Green Party of Manitoba has a new leader for the first time since 2008.

Steinbach-area farmer and agricultural consultant Janine Gibson is the winner of an online party leadership vote, the Greens announced on Sunday.

She takes over from James Beddome, a Winnipeg lawyer who had led the party since 2008.

Voting took place online from March 13 to 26 using a ranked-pairs ballot. The party said Gibson won a majority of votes in head-to-head matchups with each of the other candidates: Nicolas Geddert, Dennis Bayomi and Donovan McIntosh.

A total of 89 people voted overall, which represents 54 per cent of the party membership, the party said.

The Greens have never won a seat in Manitoba. The closest the party came to getting a representative into the Manitoba Legislature was in 2016, when Green candidate Dave Nickarz finished second to the NDP’s Rob Altemeyer by 392 votes in the Winnipeg constituency of Wolseley.

University of Manitoba political studies professor Royce Koop said Gibson faces daunting odds of leading the Greens to win a seat.

“If a leader can contribute to a breakthrough for the party then that would be that would be fantastic, but the level of difficulty in doing so is extremely high,” Koop said Sunday in an interview, noting the party has a limited organization and a small membership.

“Winning even a single seat in the legislature is extremely difficult and in order to do that, you have to be pretty charismatic. You have to have particular talent and experience as the leader.”

Prior to winning the Green Party leadership, Gibson ran unsuccessfully in seven federal and three provincial elections.