Manitoba voters made history Tuesday night.
After seven years of Progressive Conservative governments under premiers Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson, Global News projects the Manitoba NDP will be back at the helm of a majority government.
Leader Wab Kinew, who is projected to be re-elected in his own riding of Fort Rouge, is set to become the first premier of First Nations descent in a Canadian province. He called the result a victory for all Manitobans.
A musician, broadcast journalist, and university administrator prior to his entry into politics, Kinew moved to Winnipeg as a child from Onigaming First Nation in Ontario.
Kinew was first elected as an MLA in 2016, and became NDP leader in 2017. His party’s result Tuesday night is a significant improvement over his first provincial election as leader, a dominant performance by his PC opposition that saw the NDP with only 25 per cent of seats in the legislature.
“My dear sweet Manitoba, look at what we have done here tonight,” Kinew said in his victory speech Tuesday.
“A lot of people in the big cities, they look down on us here in Manitoba. ‘Fly-over country’, they said. ‘Winterpeg, Man-it’s-cold-out,’ they said… but look at what little old Manitoba did tonight.
“Manitoba did something more progressive than any of those big cities ever did. We elected a strong team of New Democrats to fix healthcare and make your life more affordable.”
With Tuesday’s result, the premier-designate makes history, but so did his predecessor — Stefanson was the first woman to serve as premier in Manitoba.
Stefanson, who replaced former premier Brian Pallister after his resignation 2021, has held the Tuxedo riding for more than two decades. Results in that race are still coming in, but Stefanson announced she will be stepping down as PC leader.
When she spoke to supporters Tuesday night, Stefanson congratulated Kinew on his historic victory, and said it was an honour to serve as premier.
“I have been a candidate for seven elections and I respect the will of the voters… and today the voters have spoken,” she said.
“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 and I wish him all the best and will make every effort in a smooth transition in the premiership.”
In an emotional speech as results continued to roll in Tuesday night, Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont announced that he will be stepping down as leader of his party. Lamont, who had represented the St. Boniface riding, was defeated by the NDP’s Robert Loiselle.
“Ultimately the people have decided, and sometimes you get caught in a wave and doesn’t seem to matter what you do,” Lamont said, calling the campaign one of the hardest he’s ever taken part in, but also one of the best.
“I always knew this (result) was a possibility, but we had to hope beyond hope and keep working and do everything we could to run the best possible campaign.”
The Green Party of Manitoba, which has yet to win a seat in a provincial election, continued that track record Tuesday, with Leader Janine Gibson falling short of her bid for the Wolseley riding, which is projected to be retained by incumbent Lisa Naylor of the NDP.
Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham congratulated Kinew and the NDP on their victory in a release just after Stefanson conceded defeat. Gillingham said he’s eager to work with the new provincial government, and acknowledged Stefanson for her partnership on a number of projects over the past year.