Kelvin Goertzen is being sworn in as Manitoba’s 23rd premier today, taking over from Brian Pallister, who resigned the position at 8:01 a.m. Sept. 1.
Goertzen inherited the role after being chosen as interim leader by the Progressive Conservative caucus Aug. 31.
“There was healthy dialogue and discussion at this meeting on the future of our caucus and a desired path froward for an interim leader,” said PC caucus chair Greg Nesbitt in a news release. “It was unanimously decided that Kelvin Goertzen is the best person to lead us through the interim period until a new leader is selected in the fall.”
The MLA for Steinbach since 2003, Goertzen has served as minister of legislative and public affairs and deputy premier since Jan. 5 of this year. Prior to that, he has served as minister of health, seniors and active living and minister of education.
Pallister said Aug. 30 he was stepping down so that the contest for the PC party leadership would be free of any perception of influence from the office of the premier.
“I leave office immensely proud of the bold new directions and transformations our government took to fix the finances, repair our services and rebuild the economy of Manitoba,” Pallister said in a written statement. “The greatest honour of my life has been serving as Manitoba’s 22nd premier.”
Pallister announced Aug. 10 that he would be stepping down as premier and PC leader and not seeking re-election to the Manitoba legislature. Pallister’s career in provincial politics began in 1992, when he won a byelection in Portage La Prairie, and he was named to then-premier Gary Filmon’s cabinet after getting re-elected in 1995.
He jumped to federal politics in 1997, losing his first election before being elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative/Canadian Alliance candidate in 2000. Pallister was re-elected in 2004 and 2006 before announcing his intention to step down in 2008. He became PC leader in 2012 and Manitoba premier in 2016 when the PCs defeated the incumbent NDP government. He maintained the position when his party won a majority of seats in the September 2019 election.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy group representing 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations, said Pallister’s resignation was a welcome development.
“We are pleased to know that Brian Pallister’s term as premier of Manitoba has come to an end today,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a written statement Sept. 1. “On behalf of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, I extend our appreciation to Mr. Pallister for resigning from his position. This is a positive step forward for the province. It is in the best interests of Indigenous people that we never have to experience a premier like Brian Pallister in our future and for the future generations to come. We look forward to working with a premier who is fully committed to truth and reconciliation and working with First Nations.”