Liberal leader Rana Bokhari has learned some lessons. Well, perhaps she hasn’t really. But she should have. Bokhari took over the reigns of a party with no funding, one sitting MLA and little hope of rebuilding and she managed to get the party into position to at least become a strong third party in the Manitoba legislature and perhaps even hold the balance of power in a minority government. To this day she believes she was at a disadvantage but she’d be wrong. It’s true the Liberals were shy on funds compared to the NDP and the Tories. In reality the stage was set for Bokhari and the Manitoba Liberals. They were better positioned to make a move than any time since the heady days of Sharon Carstairs. The Liberal brand was strong, thanks to the election of a popular new Prime Minister in Justin Trudeau. The governing NDP was on its way out. Manitobans had had enough after nearly 17 years of NDP rule but for many the prospect of a Brian Pallister lead Conservative government had little appeal. So, enter the Liberals. People were looking for a reason to vote for Bokhari and her team. They practically begged her to give them that reason. Instead she gave them every reason to not support her and it’s a testament to the discontentment with the NDP that the Liberals managed to pull out three seats and a 100% increase in their share of the popular vote.
But the amateurish way in which the campaign was run, coupled with Bokhari’s awkward handling of interviews, debates and policy led people to the only reasonable choice they could make-not Liberal. Even on election night she continued to display the signs a a leader not ready for prime time. She refused to observe the time honoured practice of delivering a concession speech. It’s the rough equivalant of not shaking hands after a playoff series. It’s bad form. Then, after losing her seat she announced defiantly she would stay on as leader, even publicly targeting NDP leader Greg Selinger’s seat should a by election be held .Only days later, though, she announced (on a Saturday night) that she would step down as leader. But, she’ll stay on as interim leader til a new one can be found.
This ham handed style of leadership has proved beyond a doubt that Bokhari is not fit for the blood sport of politics. It’s a brtual occupation that takes no prisoners. Rana Bokhari is a casualty in this battleground. We’ll never know if she might have grown into the job. She may spend the rest of her life wondering the very same thing but we know for certain that right now, today (to borrow a hackneyed phrase from poklitics) she’s just not ready