Manitoba Liberals hoping to change official party status rule

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Liberal Party is making a move to try to change the definition behind official party status in the legislature.

The Liberals said they want to modernize the 95-year-old rule, which states parties in Manitoba must have four seats to have official party status. The party said it will be introducing a bill that would change the rule to say, “Either four seats or two seats with 10 per cent of the popular vote in the previous election.”

According to a news release from the Liberals, political parties in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador only need two seats to earn status. It said Alberta has recognized parties with two seats in the past, and British Columbia recently recognized the Greens as an official party with only three seats.

The current rule states that the three Liberal MLAs must sit as independents, which limits the roles, budgets, and resources of the MLAs. The Liberals said this rule silences third parties.

In September’s election, the Liberals said they won 15 per cent of the popular vote, which is about half of the support the NDP garnered and under one-third of the support the PCs won.