Manitoba

Jubilant Pallister claims 2nd straight PC majority — albeit a smaller one

Brian Pallister will keep his job as premier of Manitoba after voters handed his Progressive Conservative party another majority government in Tuesday's election.

NDP makes gains, Liberals lose official party status

Brian Pallister and his wife Esther celebrate after the Manitoba PCs won a second consecutive majority government. (James Turner/CBC)

Premier Brian Pallister declared Manitobans have given him and his Progressive Conservative Party the green light to move forward with their agenda after voters handed them a second significant majority government.

"We inherited a massive responsibility. Some would call it a mess," Pallister said in a victory speech to supporters after Tuesday's provincial election. "Manitobans worked with us, all hands on deck. Manitobans have repaired Manitoba's foundation."

Despite their win, the PCs won fewer seats than they had at the end of the last legislative session, while the NDP made significant gains. 

The PC party won in 36 ridings, including Pallister's seat in Fort Whyte.

After addressing a jubilant crowd at the Canad Inns Polo Park, Pallister basked in the glow of winning back-to-back majorities, while also acknowledging some of his government's shortcomings and promising to do better.

"We need to improve in terms of strategies, in terms of communicating with front-line workers, what is going on, why it's going on and how it'll to work … and I accept that," Pallister told reporters.

"But I also think it would be wrong to suggest that getting close to half the popular support in back-to-back elections was anything resembling a rebuke."

Only three years into his first term, Pallister called the election more than a year before the fixed election date of Oct. 6, 2020. This gave an advantage to the PCs, who were ahead in the polls and flush with cash, while the other parties were left trying to catch up.

Watch: PC Leader Brian Pallister praises supporters

PC Leader praises province's past - but says his team is also looking to the future. 1:32

The NDP won 18 seats, which is six more than they had when the legislature was dissolved. 

NDP Leader Wab Kinew won his seat in Fort Rouge, blocking Green Party Leader James Beddome, who also ran in that constituency.

Beaming during a speech to supporters, Kinew said he had called Pallister and conceded that the PCs had won the election, although he sounded a celebratory note.

"I don't think we were defeated tonight," he said, noting the NDP had increased their number of seats in the legislature.

"The seats that we took back made it very clear that Manitobans wants us, the New Democrats, to not only be the conscience of Manitoba, not only be the opposition of Manitoba, but be the progressive voice of Manitoba."

Watch: NDP Leader Wab Kinew says NDP is 'progressive voice'

Wab Kinew says the NDP is still a 'progressive voice' for Manitobans 0:37

The Green Party of Manitoba lost its best chance at gaining their first seat in the legislature, as David Nickarz lost the race for the Wolseley constituency. He came close to winning the seat in the 2016 election, but the NDP's Lisa Naylor holds the seat now.

The quiet summer election appears to have kept a significant number of eligible voters away from the polls. With 97 per cent of polls reporting voter turnout was estimated at around 53 per cent, down from 57.4 per cent in the 2016 election.

With a second term secured, the PCs are likely to continue pursuing first-term policy priorities like slashing the province's deficit and overhauling the health-care system. They'll also likely embark on a major revamp of the province's education system once a government-ordered review is complete. 

Attention also turns to how much of this second term Pallister will serve. Political observers have speculated his retirement could come before the next election, after the budget has been balanced, although Pallister has said he will serve out his term.

Liberals lose official status

The Manitoba Liberals, meanwhile, lost official party status. The party didn't claim the minimum four seats required.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont gets a hug from a supporter. The party did not win enough seats to retain official party status. (Alana Cole/CBC)

The Liberals faced an uphill battle to hold on to official status, which the party regained last year for the first time since 1995. They won the northern riding of Keewatinook in 2016, narrowly beating the NDP's Eric Robinson, but MLA Judy Klassen then jumped to the federal Liberals to run for the seat in Churchill-Keewatinook Aski.

The Liberals ran Jason Harper in an attempt to fill Klassen's seat, but the NDP's Ian Bushie took it.

St. Boniface remains a Liberal seat after leader Dougald Lamont held on to the constituency. Lamont won the seat in a byelection last July, which marked a tipping point for the Liberals, bringing them into official party status. Lamont wrested the riding away from the NDP, which had claimed the riding for many years under former leader Greg Selinger.

Longtime River Heights MLA Jon Gerrard won his seat again for the Liberals.

Liberal Cindy Lamoureux, meanwhile, won the seat in Tyndall Park after she chose not to run in her old constituency of Burrows when its borders were redrawn. She defeated NDP incumbent Ted Marcelino.

"We ran a campaign we can be proud of and we can hold our heads high," Lamont told supporters Tuesday night as results rolled in. "You can put in the best work of your life, and sometimes that's not enough. That's life, and that's politics."

Local races made history

The 2019 election will be remembered for increasing the diversity of Manitoba's representatives.

Three black MLAs won seats in the legislature, where no black person had served before. 

Uzoma Asagwara in Union Station and Jamie Moses in St. Vital won their seats for the NDP, while Audrey Gordon won the Southdale constituency for the PCs. 

Uzoma Asagwara made history as one of the first black MLAs elected to the Manitoba legislature. (Ahmar Khan/CBC)

"Our elected officials in our Manitoba Legislature should absolutely reflect the constituencies … and communities that are in Manitoba," Asagwara told CBC News as results came in Tuesday night.

"So making sure that our elected officials look like the communities we serve [is] fundamental in making sure that all voices and all communities are served well in Manitoba."

Among the winners are 12 out of 13 former PC cabinet ministers. Moses defeated former Crown Services Minister Colleen Mayer.

Other winners for the PCs are Josh Guenter in Borderland, defeating disgraced former PC MLA Cliff Graydon, who was expelled from the PC caucus over sexual harassment allegations. 

The NDP reclaimed their hold on the province's north. In addition to retaking Keewatinook, Danielle Adams won in Thompson, defeating incumbent PC candidate Kelly Bindle, who narrowly beat longtime NDP MLA Steve Ashton in 2016.

About the Author

Cameron MacLean

Web Writer

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, Man. where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.

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