01/17/2018 10:18 EST | Updated 01/19/2018 21:03 EST

Manitoba Liberal Leader without a legislature seat to get salary from party

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Liberal Party has paid off its debt from the 2016 provincial election, and is going to start paying its new leader a salary of $50,000 a year.

Unlike other major party leaders, Dougald Lamont does not have a legislature seat and the public salary that comes with it.

Lamont, who was elected leader in October, says he is focused on rebuilding the party, raising more money and preparing for the next election in 2020.

Lamont's predecessor, Rana Bokhari, was also paid $50,000 a year from party coffers and did not have a legislature seat.

Lamont, 48, has never held elected office and has worked behind the scenes on policy and communications.

The Liberals have three of the 57 legislature seats and Lamont is hopeful the party can add to that in the future.

A big part of that effort is getting the party in fighting shape in case there are byelections in the near future, he said.

"Some of it is ... going back to the way things used to be done. It is just passing the hat, or it is just donations — $5 or $10 at a time," Lamont said in an interview.

Lamont plans to spend the next few weeks travelling Manitoba, and hopes to visit all 57 constituencies by the end of the year.

The Liberals have been trying to find ways to replace a per-vote subsidy that used to be available to political parties until the Tory government eliminated it in 2016.

The subsidy was based on how many votes each party received in the two most recent elections. The Liberals used to collect $63,000 a year from it — about a quarter of their annual budget.

The NDP used to get $195,000 a year from the subsidy. The Tories, in opposition at the time, never accepted it.