Manitoba voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, Oct. 3, initiating a wave of change in the provincial legislature. The Manitoba NDP, under the leadership of Fort Rouge MLA Wab Kinew, rode an orange wave to victory, ousting the Progressive Conservative (PC) incumbents and winning a majority.
Kinew makes history as the first First Nations person in Canadian history to be elected a provincial premier. He is also Manitoba’s first Indigenous premier since Métis leader John Norquay left office in 1887.
The NDP have captured a confirmed 30 seats in the legislature, one more than the minimum 29 required to form a majority government, and are leading in a further four ridings which still haven’t been called at press time. The PCs won 19 confirmed seats and lead in a further three still too close to call, including former premier Heather Stefanson’s riding of Tuxedo. Some of the ridings still yet to be called include Dauphin, Waverley, Lagimodière and McPhillips, in which the NDP are currently leading, and Brandon West, Tuxedo and Selkirk, in which the PCs currently enjoy a lead.
Of the 30 confirmed NDP seats, 10 were in ridings previously held by the PCs (Assiniboia, Brandon East, Fort Richmond, Kildonan- River East, Kirkfield Park, Radisson, Riel, Rossmere, Seine River and Southdale). The four yet-to-be-called seats with NDP leads (Dauphin, Lagimodiere, McPhillips and Waverley) were also previous PC seats. The PCs are the incumbents in all three of the uncalled ridings in which they are currently leading.
The results are a rebuke to Stefanson’s PCs, who ran a campaign many saw as divisive. The party ran ads smearing rival NDP candidates, pandered to wedge issues and used language interpreted by some as racist and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ dog whistles. The party, under Stefanson and predecessor Brian Pallister, governed the province with rigid austerity, gutting the provincial healthcare system and leaving it woefully unprepared for the eventual COVID-19 pandemic.
Rebuilding the healthcare system was a key part of the NDP’s campaign messaging, pledging to reopen emergency rooms that were shuttered by the PCs, and adding more beds to the hospitals that still remain open. The NDP have also pledged to search the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, who are thought to be victims of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki. The PCs campaigned on a promise that they would never search the landfill for the slain Indigenous women.
The night was also a major loss for the Manitoba Liberal Party, who held on to only one seat (Cindy Lamoureux in Tyndall Park). Party leader Dougald Lamont, who lost his St. Boniface seat, gave an emotional speech as he conceded to the NDP’s Robert Loiselle and stepped down as party leader. Another major loss for the Liberals was River Heights, held since 1999 by Jon Gerrard, which went to NDP challenger Mike Moroz.
In addition to pledging to search the landfill and refund healthcare, Kinew has also said he will balance the budget, freeze Hydro rates for one year and create a $700 renters’ tax credit.
Published in Volume 78, Number 05 of The Uniter (October 5, 2023)