This year's Manitoba election brings higher number of diverse candidates

The 2019 election is one for the record books, with the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats running the largest number of Indigenous candidates in recent history.

NDP, Tories have more Indigenous candidates than in past decade of elections

Jasmine Brar (PC candidate for Burrows), Lisa Naylor (NDP candidate for Wolseley), Sarb Gill (Liberal candidate for Burrows) and Ron Evans (PC candidate for The Pas-Kameesak) are just four of the diverse candidates running in this election. (CBC News Graphics)

The 2019 election is one for the record books, with the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats running the largest number of Indigenous candidates in recent history.

Both parties and the Manitoba Liberals have slates made up of more than 10 per cent Indigenous candidates. 

The NDP have 10 candidates, roughly 17 per cent of its slate. The Tories are running seven Indigenous candidates, which is roughly 12 per cent of its 57 candidates.

"It reflects an increasing awareness of the importance of Indigenous issues and Indigenous themes," said Royce Koop, head of political studies at the University of Manitoba. 

"For the Tories, when you have a diverse set of candidates it kind of short circuits the idea that they are not tuned into the interests and concerns of these communities."

In ridings such as Keewatinook, where over 90 per cent of the population is Indigenous, all three candidates are Indigenous (the Green Party is not running a candidate). The race is open after Liberal MLA Judy Klassen didn't seek re-election so she could run for the federal Liberals.

The NDP says it is the most Indigenous candidates the party has ever run. The Tories could not confirm the figure, but it is at least the most on a PC slate in the last four elections.    

Colleen Mayer won St. Vital in 2016 and is Metis.

The Manitoba Liberals are running seven Indigenous candidates. The Green Party said it doesn't track the demographics of candidates. 

In 2016, the NDP ran seven Indigenous candidates, the Tories ran five and the Liberals ran 15. 

Nominations closed Monday

Monday marked the deadline to officially nominate candidates for the Sept. 10 election. The PCs, the NDP and the Manitoba Liberals are all running a full slate of 57 candidates. The Green Party has 43 candidates.

The Communist Party of Canada-Manitoba registered five candidates, Manitoba First will have six candidates, and seven candidates are running under the Manitoba Forward banner. There are three independent candidates. 

Among the candidates for the 57 seats, the NDP is running 24 female candidates, the Tories are running 22 and the Liberals are running 19. 

Chris Adams, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Manitoba, says the growth in diversity is part of continuing trend by all parties to bring in more diverse candidates. He calls it a great move for democracy.

"Generally speaking, when you come from a certain group of people in our society and a certain socioeconomic class, you have a different empathy for the people you grew up with," he said. 

Manitoba Liberal candidate Donovan Martin said the black community is increasingly becoming engaged in politics, which will serve the community well in getting their issues addressed. (Ian Froese/CBC)

However, both Adams and Koop say it is more important to look at the number of candidates victorious on election night, rather than the number that are nominated. 

"They tend to be the sacrificial lambs, so the real test is going to be election night," said Koop.

However, that tide is changing, says Adams.

"Not only do we have more diversity in the slate of winnable ridings, but they are running in winnable ridings," Adams said.

For example, he noted how the Tories ran Colleen Mayer, who is Metis, in St. Vital in 2016. Audrey Gordon, who was born in Jamaica, is running in Southdale — a suburban riding held by the PCs.

Mintu Sandhu is running in The Maples for the NDP

The NDP are running a gay woman and a queer candidate in areas that are historically NDP strongholds: Uzoma Asagwara in Union Station (a new riding made up of historically NDP ridings) and Lisa Naylor in Wolseley. Asagwara is also a first-generation Canadian whose parents are Nigerian.

Two Indo-Canadian women are running for the Tories: Jasmine Brar in Burrows — which is a race with no incumbents — and Aman Sandhu in The Maples, a seat the Tories lost by less than 130 votes in 2016.

The Liberals are running two Indo-Canadian men in Burrows (Sarb Gill) and The Maples (Deep Brar).

As noted in a previous CBC article, Gordon and Asagwara are among a number of candidates who could become the first black MLA in Manitoba history.

The Liberals are running 14 people of colour, the NDP are running 18, and Tories are running six.

The Tories are also running their first openly gay candidate, Megan Hoskins. There are seven candidates for the Liberals that identify as LGBT and eight New Democrats.

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  • A previous version of this story said the NDP are running two openly gay women in areas historically known as NDP strongholds. In fact, the party is running a gay woman and a queer candidate in those ridings.
    Sep 10, 2019 1:41 PM CT


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