The Manitoba election official began on September 5th, and what was once considered an assured victory for the New Democratic Party is now a genuine race.
PC Leader Heather Stefanon’s numbers have risen in recent months, and the latest publicly available polling shows a tightening race between the PCs and the NDP. Mainstreet Research published findings from late July which showed the PCs at 36 percent among all voters, and the NDP at 32. Among decided and undecided voters combined, the PCs were at 40 percent, with the NDP at 36.
The battleground in every provincial election is the City of Winnipeg, where the PCs made historic gains in 2016 and to a slightly lesser extent in 2019 under former Premier Brian Pallister. The NDP has been polling at a significantly higher percentage than the PCs over several polling periods. To maintain government, the PCs will need to focus in particular on suburban, currently-held ridings.
This election, regardless of which major party wins, will usher in a historic outcome. Should the NDP form government, Wab Kinew would become the first Indigenous premier of a Canadian province. If the PCs prevail, Heather Stefanson would become the first woman to be elected premier in Manitoba history. (While she is already the province’s first female premier, she has not yet secured a mandate of her own, having won the leadership of the governing party in 2021.)
The Manitoba Liberals, led by St. Boniface MLA Dougald Lamont, held three seats in the Legislature in the previous term, one short of being a recognized political party. The Liberals have struggled to gain a foothold in Manitoba, having only once formed official opposition under former leader Sharon Carstairs in the 1980s.
Capital Hill Group is monitoring the campaign pledges of all parties, and since Tuesday, the major parties have announced the following:
The NDP announced a plan to open five new Neighborhood Illness and Injury clinics, with extended hours.
The PCs are promising to cut the tax rate on the lowest provincial income tax bracket in half over the next four years, representing a 1.35% tax reduction annually. The PCs also pledge to liminate the Land Transfer Tax for first-time home buyers.
The Liberal Party has already released its platform with commitments ranging from covering mental health & regulated psychotherapy under Medicare, to ending strategic voting by implementing ranked ballots, and a $300 green fund to fight climate change.
The leaders, in their own words:
“There is a lot of instability in the world, but here’s something you can count on: a re-elected PC government guarantees that, each year, your taxes will go down. Manitobans can also rest assured that these savings will not come at the expense of the services they need, want, and deserve.” ~ PC Leader Heather Stefanson
“One of my fundamental political beliefs is that the economic horse pulls the social cart, meaning yep, we’ve got great ideas on health care and education and community initiatives. But in order for any of those things to happen, the economy has to be strong.” ~ NDP Leader Wab Kinew
“I think what the Manitoba NDP is doing, it’s actually harmful to progressive movements everywhere, Liberals included, because they’re putting the NDP seal of approval on right-wing policies that just don’t work.” ~ Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont