Manitoba Liberals' first ever Canadian-Pakistani leader

Published October 28, 2013
Rana Bokhari, the youngest person to ever lead the Manitoba Liberals, will lead the party into the next provincial election in the spring of 2016.
Rana Bokhari, the youngest person to ever lead the Manitoba Liberals, will lead the party into the next provincial election in the spring of 2016.

WINNIPEG: A Canadian lawyer and politician of Pakistani descent scored a first-ballot victory at Saturday’s Liberal leadership convention in western Canada’s prairie province of Manitoba.

Rana Bokhari, 36, is first-generation Canadian who was born in Winnipeg and grew up on a farm in Anola, Eastern Manitoba, where her Pakistani immigrant parents operated the largest poultry farm in the province.

Bokhari won 431 votes to take the party's top job on the first ballot at a leadership convention in Winnipeg. The minimum number of votes needed to win on the first round of voting was 430.

With the win she has became Manitoba’s first ever Canadian-Pakistani provincial leader. She will lead Manitoba’s third party into the next provincial election, expected in the spring of 2016. She succeeds Jon Gerrard, who had been leader for the past 15 years.

In her speech to Liberal members, Bokhari proclaimed, “This is growing season for our Party. This is growing season for our Province. There's a lot of work to be done but I'm up for the challenge." Amid loud cheers of support, she continued,

If we offer something new and something different, if we offer a new kind of politics, if we offer the hope and possibility that families like mine know is the soul of this province, then together we can change Manitoba.

Back in the days, the Bokhari family’s farming venture ended abruptly.

“We had to sell out in 2000,” says Rana. “We were forced out, so it wasn’t our choice.”

The family returned to Pakistan in 2002, not returning to Canada until 2006. Those years in Pakistan were to forever alter Rana’s view of the world and her role in it.

Rana holds two degrees from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba in Criminology and Psychology. During her studies, Rana became more politically aware and deeply involved in community affairs.

Bokhari has a successful track record of serving community by helping to organise numerous fundraising events. She also responded to a long-held need to be of service to others by initiating successful campaigns to raise awareness and funds in response to floods in Pakistan and the Phillipines, famine in East Africa, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

It's the first time in 15 years that the Manitoba Liberals have selected a new leader. This election makes Bokhari the youngest person to ever lead Manitoba Liberals, as well as the first Manitoban of South-Asian decent to lead a political party in Manitoba.

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