The NDP sailed to victory Tuesday night with a solid win that cements leader Wab Kinew as Manitoba’s first First Nations premier and also nets the party enough seats to form a majority government.
“This is a great victory for all of us in Manitoba,” Kinew said to thunderous applause at NDP campaign headquarters Tuesday night, after leading his party to a win in Fort Rouge.
“We can do amazing things when we stand together as one province.”
Kinew’s win makes Manitoba the first Canadian province to elect a First Nations premier.
He thanked Heather Stefanson for her service as premier.
The PC leader will step down as party leader, she said as she conceded her party’s defeat to the NDP.
WATCH | Kinew applauds ‘great victory for all of us in Manitoba’:
Kinew applauds great victory for all Manitobans
Featured VideoWab Kinew and the NDP will be forming the next government in Manitoba. Amidst chanting inside the Fort Garry Hotel, Kinew was quick to double down on his party’s promises to fix health care and make life more affordable for Manitobans.
Stefanson became Manitoba’s first woman premier when she took the job after Brian Pallister stepped down in fall 2021.
“Mr. Kinew and I don’t always agree on everything, but like me, I know that he loves this province and he loves the people of Manitoba,” Stefanson said.
“Wab, I hope that your win tonight inspires a future generation of Indigenous youth to get involved in our democratic process — not just here in Manitoba but right across the country.”
As Wednesday morning, Stefanson led in her Tuxedo riding by 259 votes with some votes remaining to be calculated.
After the Kirkfield Park byelection last year, the PCs held 36 seats to the NDP’s 18, and the Liberals had three — one seat short of official party status.
On Wednesday morning, the NDP had won 30 seats, the PCs 19 and the Liberals one, with seven races still too tight to call.
In the December 2022 Kirkfield Park byelection, former city councillor Kevin Klein came out on top for the PCs — but on Tuesday night, NDP opponent Logan Oxenham wrested Kirkfield Park away from Klein, who was a cabinet minister.
WATCH | Stefanson congratulates Kinew, says she’ll step down:
Stefanson stepping down as PC leader
Featured VideoManitoba PC Leader Heather Stefanson announced she would resign as the leader of the party following a loss to the NDP in the provincial election on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
The PCs managed to hang on to a chunk of conservative strongholds outside of Winnipeg on Tuesday, including Ron Schuler’s win in Springfield-Ritchot and Kelvin Goertzen’s in Steinbach.
But the party suffered a severe blow when PC cabinet ministers Audrey Gordon (Southdale), Rochelle Squires (Riel), Janice Morley-Lecomte (Seine River) and James Teitsma (Radisson) lost their seats to NDP rivals.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont also conceded defeat to NDP candidate Robert Loiselle in St. Boniface.
“Ultimately the people have decided, and sometimes you get caught in a wave, and sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do,” Lamont said. “I know we changed hearts and minds in this election, but I also know that’s not always enough.”
Lamont stepped down as leader as the party was “basically wiped out,” he said, reduced from three seats to one, which went to Cindy Lamoureux in Tyndall Park.
Longtime Liberal MLA for River Heights Jon Gerrard was taken down by the NDP’s Mike Moroz. Gerrard was first elected in 1999.
Incumbent Mark Wasyliw won his seat for the NDP in Fort Garry, which was the first projection of the night.
“This feels really great.… All the indications we were getting from people were positive,” Wasyliw said. “I think we need to heal Manitoba … think health care has become a symbol of that.”
A number of MLAs who held critic files while the NDP were the Official Opposition were re-elected, including Adrien Sala (St. James), Lisa Naylor (Wolseley), Nahanni Fontaine (St. Johns), Nello Altomare (Transcona), Matt Wiebe (Concordia), Bernadette Smith (Point Douglas) and Uzoma Asagwara (Union Station).
But new faces also helped vault the party ahead, like Winnipeg school board trustee Jennifer Chen, who seized Fort Richmond from the PCs. Rachelle Schott (Kildonan-River East) and Oxenham, who lost to Klein the first time they faced off in the Kirkfield Park byelection last year, are two other rookies who propelled the NDP to a win.
Outside Winnipeg, Tom Lindsey (Flin Flon), Eric Redhead (Thompson), Ian Bushie (Keewatinook) and Amanda Lathlin (The Pas-Kameesak) pocketed four northern seats for the NDP, while Glen Simard picked up Brandon East.
A record 200,790 Manitobans — nearly a quarter of all eligible voters — cast ballots in advance polls, Elections Manitoba said.
In 2019, about 112,814 advance votes were cast — the next-highest number on record. That election saw a 55 per cent turnout.
The PCs rose to power in 2016 under then-premier Brian Pallister.
Stefanson won a hotly contested PC leadership campaign against rival Shelly Glover in fall 2021 after Pallister resigned. She announced Tuesday she would step down as party leader, but didn’t say when.
The New Democrats emerged victorious after a weeks-long barrage of attack ads from the PCs.
The PCs ratcheted up their ads in the past few weeks in what some political scientists speculated was a sign of desperation in the waning days of the campaign.
Kinew and his team largely stuck to health-care pledges — including a promise to reopen three Winnipeg emergency rooms shuttered during Brian Pallister’s time as PC leader. The first to be restored will be Victoria Hospital, followed by Seven Oaks General Hospital and Concordia.
Kinew also pledged to build a new ER in Eriksdale, Man.
WATCH | Kinew gives his mother a big birthday gift:
Kinew leads impromptu surprise song for his mom
Featured VideoWab Kinew had just led the Manitoba NDP to a majority government. But his night wasn’t complete without coaxing his supporters to sing Happy Birthday to his mom, Kathi.
It’ll take two terms, or up to eight years, for the NDP to fully restore ERs, the party said.
He criticized the PCs for campaigning on their decision not to search a landfill for the remains of two First Nations women police allege were killed by a serial killer.
Upon winning Tuesday, Kinew called the PC campaign one with a “divisive message.” He thanked voters for showing the rest of the world that the “people of Manitoba are good people.”
“I want to express our tremendous gratitude for this awesome responsibility that you have bestowed upon us,” he said.
Kinew ended his address to supporters by introducing his mother on stage and leading the crowd in singing her happy birthday.
WATCH | Orange wave leads to Manitoba NDP majority:
Orange wave leads to Manitoba NDP majority, CBC projects
Featured VideoWab Kinew and the NDP will form the next majority government in Manitoba. The premier-designate held his own seat in Fort Rouge and will lead the province for the next four years.