When the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba elects a new leader later this year, do not expect Kelvin Goertzen's name on that ballot.
Goertzen has made it clear that he will not be running for the Conservative leadership position.
News of a leadership change came about on Tuesday when Premier Brian Pallister announced that he will not be seeking re-election and that he will step down prior to the next election, in order for a new leader to take his seat. Since then, there has been much speculation as to whether the Steinbach MLA and Deputy Premier of our province, Kelvin Goertzen might eye that seat. Goertzen has laid to rest any such thoughts.
"For me, the last eighteen months, like for a lot of people, it's been a real challenge for my family, for my wife, for my son and I think that has to be my primary focus," Goertzen says. "Beyond that, I think my role is more at this stage of my career, helping the party through this interim period and this transition."
Goertzen says this will be a significant transition. He notes, it is not only a new party leader being elected, but this party leader will become the Premier of our province. And, he says that places a lot more pressure on this vote, than some of the other leadership changes he has been part of in years past.
"In the past when I have been involved in leadership changes, we were picking the leader of the party, but that person became the leader of the official opposition, which itself is an important role," Goertzen says. "But, different of course than selecting someone who is going to immediately become the next Premier."
As Deputy Premier, Goertzen says he will be responsible for ensuring the transition is a smooth one.
"I've gone through transitions with party leaderships before and it's really important that there are people who have been around for a while who can help with that transition," says Goertzen. "And so I think that is more my role, primarily to be there to support my family, but then also to support the party and the government in that transition."
Meanwhile, Goertzen says the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult on the Premier, and his decision does not come as a complete surprise.
"I don't think anybody should question the incredible difficulty and strain that this has placed on people and I've seen that in Brian and in his family," notes Goertzen. "And so I wasn't expecting necessarily the decision to come at this point, but I wasn't entirely surprised either because I know how difficult it's been."