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Manitoba NDP gains seats but Conservatives win another majority

by Greg Klein | September 10, 2019

Updated results (with seats at dissolution in parenthesis)

  • Progressive Conservatives: 36 seats, 46.75% of the popular vote (38)

  • New Democratic Party: 18 seats, 31.14% (12)

  • Liberals: 3 seats, 14.37% (4)

  • Independents: 0 seats, 0.19% (1)

Both parties vied for the pro-mining vote. But an 11th-hour New Democratic Party appeal to unite the non-right fizzled as Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives returned to power.

Among other issues, mining came to the fore as both PCs and NDs portrayed themselves as champions of the industry’s workers.

Manitoba NDP gains seats but Conservatives win another majority

On the hustings last July, NDP leader Wab Kinew slammed the incumbents “for ignoring northern Manitoba’s mining crisis and failing to take tangible action to protect northern workers and their families.”

Since Brian Pallister’s party took office in 2016, two-thirds of the province’s operating mines shut down, Kinew stated. “The closures mean that in 2018 there were 500 fewer workers working in the natural resource sector than in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.”

Kinew also charged that the PC government was withholding at least $1 million from the Mining Community Reserve Fund that should be available immediately for the unemployed and their communities.

Meanwhile a government Request for Proposals to develop a mineral readiness strategy for northern Manitoba “is too little, too late for the people of Thompson, Flin Flon and The Pas, who have watched good jobs disappear from their communities,” said Flin Flon NDP incumbent Tom Lindsey, who regained his seat.

The PCs countered by promising to provide a $20-million Manitoba Mineral Development Fund, create formal mining protocols with natives and support “all phases of mineral development in the north.”

Pallister said the NDP government that ruled up to 2016 made the province less attractive for mining. “We cannot afford to go backwards to the NDP whose leader, Wab Kinew, signed the Leap Manifesto, a document that pledges to shut down Manitoba’s mining industry…. We are committed to making Manitoba one of the most mining-friendly jurisdictions in the world and the top mining province or territory in Canada.”

Although next-door Saskatchewan took the world’s first place for government mining policies in a Fraser Institute survey released last February, Manitoba ranked ninth in Canada and 33rd globally.

Pallister, Kinew and Liberal leader Dougald Lamont all won re-election. The Green surge that has disrupted other parts of Canada, however, bypassed Manitoba. Getting 6.38% of the vote, just over 1% more than in 2016, the party elected no one. Kinew failed in his September 9 appeal asking Greens and Liberals to help him defeat the PCs, although his party gained four seats over the 2016 results and six over the dissolution numbers.

Pallister grew up on a farm and became a teacher before founding a Winnipeg financial services company that became Pallister Financial. Kinew moved as a child from Ontario’s Onigaming First Nation to Winnipeg and became a journalist, author, hip-hop artist, producer, media personality and university administrator. Lamont, a writer, editor and policy analyst, has taught Canadian literature and government-business relations at the university level.

Obviously confident of success, Pallister called the election despite the province’s fixed date schedule for October 6, 2020. Threatening Manitobans with fatigue, this election took place on the eve of the official federal campaign.

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