Kevin Friesen is the leader of the Keystone Party
By Diego Flammini
A farmer from Manitou, Man. is leading a new political party in the province.
Grain farmer Kevin Friesen is the first ever leader of the Keystone Party of Manitoba.
“It is our mission to create a stronger, united Manitoba by respecting the culture and diversity of individuals through an accountable, sustainable Government, engaging the people of our province,” the party’s website states.
Keystone registered with Elections Manitoba in June after working for almost a year collecting the required 2,500 signatures.
Party organizers created the Keystone Party out of frustration with COVID-19.
Lockdowns, vaccination requirements and other measures divided communities.
Keystone vows to help repair those relationships, Friesen said.
“We must rise above this division and get back to who we are, back to who we were, back to being Manitobans,” he said during a kickoff event in July, the Winnipeg Sun reported. “Now, we used to be called friendly Manitoba. But our government has literally turned some of us on each other.”
The party is for those who feel the other political parties aren’t serving the needs of Manitobans, Friesen said.
"For too long, we have let our elected representatives assimilate to a predetermined agenda that does not serve the membership. It just serves the whims of the leader. That archaic model will end,” he said at the kickoff, CBC reported.
In the Keystone Party, individual constituency associations will choose candidates. And those candidates will report to the associations, not to a party leader.
“Constituency Associations are the powerhouse of the Keystone Party of Manitoba, where members can make recommendations to influence the political and operational divisions of the Party,” Keystone’s constitution says.
Following general elections, elected Keystone MLAs will form a “Caucus of equals,” where each member will have an equal voice and vote.
Part of the responsibility of the caucus will be to elect one of their own to act as leader, and to decide among themselves who will fit minister or critic portfolio duties.
Typically, a party whip’s responsibility is to ensure members vote in line with the party platform.
The Keystone’s whip, however, will be responsible for ensuring members are present for important votes and briefing them on daily business. But he or she won’t instruct members on how to vote.
With Keystone’s registration, Manitobans have seven parties to choose from during provincial elections.
Manitoba’s next general election is scheduled for October 2023.
Keystone’s goal is to have a candidate in each of the province’s 57 ridings.
The party must win four to have official party status.