1. Wab Kinew
2. Leah Gazan
3. Uzoma Asagwara
Wabanakwut (Wab) Kinew’s ascendancy to the premiership of Manitoba is an achievement in itself, but the Anishinaabe community leader, broadcaster and musician has now won an even greater honour: recognition as Uniter readers’ favourite local politician of 2023.
Kinew’s performance in the Uniter 30 over the years mirrors his career in provincial politics. But much like this category’s recent heavy-hitters Uzoma Asagwara and Robert Falcon-Ouellette, Kinew’s path to the number-one spot began well before his name appeared on a ballot.
Many first came to know Kinew as a broadcast journalist. His career at CBC began in 2005, where his “blunt delivery” and knack for public speaking earned him host-producer roles on Live by the Drum, Canada Live and The 204.
He rose to national prominence as host of the 2012 documentary series 8th Fire, which argues for a re-evaluation of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and settler society and notes the economic benefits of greater Indigenous inclusion. Kinew holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Manitoba.
In 2011, the University of Winnipeg named Kinew as its first director of Indigenous inclusion, and he continued serving in its administration until he began pursuing his long-held political aspirations in 2016.
Kinew defeated then-Liberal leader Rana Bokhari in that year’s provincial election, becoming the MLA for Fort Rouge and Uniter readers’ second-favourite local politician.
In 2017, Kinew defeated Manitoba New Democratic Party stalwart Steve Ashton to win the party’s leadership, but this wasn’t enough to tip the scales for Uniter 30 voters, who continued awarding him second place through 2019.
He dropped out of the Uniter 30 running altogether in 2020, as the NDP’s support sagged. This drought would be short-lived. Kinew took third place in 2022, following a year of successfully capitalizing on then-premier Heather Stefanson’s increasing unpopularity, setting the stage for both of this year’s big wins.
The Uniter was not able to reach Kinew for comment as of press time.
Published in Volume 78, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2023)