Manitoba NDP Leader and Premier-designate Wab Kinew holds a strong majority, winning 34 of 57 ridings, and is set to become the first First Nations provincial Premier in Canadian history.
The 2023 Manitoba General Election was an historic moment not just for Manitoba but for Canada. Manitoba NDP Leader and Premier-designate Wab Kinew will become the first First Nations provincial Premier in Canadian history.
With 55% voter turnout, Elections Manitoba confirmed that the Manitoba NDP won a strong majority, winning 34 of 57 electoral districts. Four seats were won by very tight margins, but none will trigger an automatic recount. The decisive victory included a near-complete sweep of all but two ridings in Winnipeg and picking up two rural targets in Brandon East and Dauphin.
On election night, Kinew gave an inspiring victory speech where he thanked Manitobans, acknowledged the hard work ahead, and offered an optimistic message for people seeking a second chance in life and to Indigenous young people who can now see themselves represented in the province’s highest office.
In the following days, Kinew continued to reinforce the NDP campaign promises of fixing health care and making life more affordable. He also made a direct appeal to rural Manitobans, asking that they keep an open mind for the next election should the NDP deliver on their campaign promises.
Kinew quickly announced his senior leadership and transition teams. Mark Rosner will serve as Chief of Staff and co-lead the transition with Campaign Director and well-known NDP strategist Brian Topp. Emily Coutts will serve as Principal Secretary, and Rebecca Widdicombe will become Deputy Chief of Staff. The transition advisory team includes key figures from labour, Indigenous leadership, and healthcare.
Premier Heather Stefanson met with Premier-elect Kinew one-on-one to discuss the transition of power; the date for the official swearing-in ceremony is yet to be set but is expected within the month of October.
After 7 years in government, a long period of low polling numbers, and controversial campaign tactics, the Manitoba PCs will now serve as the Official Opposition with 22 seats, down from 36 in 2019.
Heather Stefanson won her historically safe seat in Winnipeg’s Tuxedo constituency by a mere 263 votes above NDP candidate Larissa Ashdown. Stefanson resigned as leader on election night. The PC party has since announced plans for a leadership race in 12-18 months, during which time Stefanson will continue as interim leader. She has not yet announced whether she plans to resign her seat before the next general election.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougal Lamont lost his seat in St. Boniface, where he has served as MLA since 2018, to NDP candidate Robert Loiselle. He resigned as leader on election night. In addition, former Manitoba Liberal Leader and MP Dr. John Gerrard, who has served as MLA for River Heights since 1999, lost his seat to NDP candidate Mike Moroz. The Manitoba Liberals have only one seat remaining in Tyndall Park, where Cindy Lamoureux will continue to serve as MLA.
New Faces on Broadway: Manitoba NDP
The big winner of the night, of course, is the New Democrats, with 16 newly elected MLAs. Although there are many to name, we have highlighted a few notable wins and newly elected NDP members below:
In south Winnipeg, the NDP was able to flip several bell-weather seats, including Southdale, where NDP first-time candidate Renee Cable was able to defeat former PC Health Minister Audrey Gordon. The NDP election victory came largely due to Manitobans’ anger about the PC government’s approach to healthcare, and Gordon was invisible throughout the campaign.
In Winnipeg’s Kirkfield Park constituency, Logan Oxenham defeated Tory Cabinet Minister and former city councillor Kevin Kline. Kline had narrowly defeated Oxenham in a December 2022 by-election, and both parties knew this would be a tough race. Logan was previously a correctional officer and will be the first transgender MLA in Manitoba’s history.
Outside Winnipeg, the NDP targeted the Dauphin seat, recruiting former NDP Cabinet Minister and local Reeve Ron Kostyshyn as a well-known and well-liked candidate. Kostyshyn will be one of only two MLAs in the NDP caucus who previously served in government, the other being Concordia MLA Matt Wiebe.
What Comes Next?
The NDP Cabinet is likely to be one of the most diverse in the province’s history, reflecting the true diversity and strength of Canada’s keystone province.
Wab Kinew has been clear that, once his team is sworn in and Cabinet appointed, his first priorities will be recruiting healthcare workers and acting on affordability measures like cutting the provincial gas tax, which is likely to require legislative changes.
He has also reiterated his commitment to work with all levels of government to search Prairie Green Landfill for the remains of Indigenous women Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, and an unknown woman known as Buffalo Woman.
Counsel will provide further updates in the coming weeks.
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