Manitoba New Democrats have voted strongly in favour of their leader, Wab Kinew.
Delegates to the party’s convention, held online, have voted 93 per cent in favour of not opening up the top post to a leadership race.
Kinew needed only 50 per cent of the vote to survive the leadership review, which is mandatory after each election under the party’s constitution.
Kinew took over the helm in 2017 and increased the NDP’s seat count in the legislature during the 2019 election.
Recent opinion polls have suggested that the NDP is growing in popularity, especially in Winnipeg where most legislature seats are based.
Kinew says he appreciates the support and is preparing for a tough fight in the 2023 election.
“We’re in a very solid position. I think the fundraising we put up in 2020 and at the end of the year really shows the progress we’ve made towards rebuilding the NDP — and just reconnecting with people in Manitoba.”
It’s a strong start to what will be an uphill climb for the party in the years ahead.
The NDP currently hold 18 seats in the legislative assembly, but that’s doubled by the governing Progressive Conservatives’ 36.
It’s a challenge Kinew says he’s looking forward to, and he believes his supporters are too.
“We were able to put away a quarter of a million dollars into our election fund for the next provincial election, which means we are already in a stronger position for the next election than we were for the last one.”
The party also stashed away $100,000 for any contingency scenarios, like a by-election.
Kinew says those figures are in part thanks to a large influx of first-time donors that helped make up a unique donor base that was three times the size of what the party has seen in recent years.
“I think that’s because the pandemic has weighed on people,” Kinew muses. “While I don’t believe anyone thinks the pandemic was preventable, I think there are a lot of Manitobans who feel like the government failed to prepare, and as a result, this thing was more damaging to the province than it might have been.”
Kinew hopes to woo potential voters who may be dissatisfied with the way the Progressive Conservative government has handled itself over the past year.
“It shows Manitobans that we’re on their side, and they’re now willing to not just answer a poll question saying they might support us — but also donate to help us prepare for that next election.”
-With files from the Canadian Press