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NDP Begins Transition to Government

A team of 11 people has been assembled to assist the transition of Premiership as Wab Kinew and the Manitoba NDP are set to become the majority government. The team will advise the new Premier through the process of forming a government.  

Among those on the transition team are the outgoing mayor of Morden Manitoba, Brandon Burley, Medical Director of Research at the Health Sciences Centre, Dr. Eric Jacobsohn, Executive Director of the Islamic Social Services Association Shahina Siddiqui, and Churchill Mayor Mike Spence. 

“I will commit to you again today that we are going to work hard every single day to repay the debt of gratitude that we feel for this opportunity by fixing your health care and making life more affordable for your family,” Kinew said at the Manitoba Legislature. 

Kinew has promised no increase in PST while in office as such an increase will directly impact middle and lower-income Manitobans. 

In the months prior to the election, Kinew said his government will make smarter investments. With the many things Kinew has promised, such as balancing the budget, the tipping point of NDP success will depend on fiscal responsibility. 

The greatest point of emphasis among NDP promises is to invest in health care. Regarding emergency rooms, the NDP has promised to reopen emergency departments at Concordia, Seven Oaks, and Victoria hospitals. This is expected to take as much as eight years, costing approximately $150 million per hospital, and relies on each facility having adequate staffing. 

At an estimated cost of $500 million over four years, the NDP has promised to hire 400 physicians and 300 nurses while axing the current mandated overtime required of nurses. They have also promised to hire 200 paramedics by the end of their first term. They have also promised to ban surge pricing by Manitoba Hydro to save Manitobans money and a “broad middle-class tax cut,” the introduction of $10 a day year-round childcare, and universal access to free prescription birth control. 

Among Kinew’s promises is the construction of more affordable housing as well as creating legislation around rent control and an increase of renter’s tax credit to $700. The NDP promises to “end chronic homelessness by connecting Manitobans with mental health and housing supports,” according to the Manitoba NDP website. 

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham released a statement last week congratulating Kinew on the victory. He shared his optimism about what can be achieved through the collaboration of the provincial and municipal governments. Kinew agreed wholly, saying, “I think partnering with other leaders, such as Mayor Gillingham, is going to be very important so that Winnipeg’s downtown, which is Manitoba’s downtown, is a place that everyone enjoys.” 

Searching Prairie Green Landfill 

Kinew has specifically mentioned making an effort to search Prairie Green Landfill. 

“I think the first task before us is to go through the transition and be sworn in as a new government, and then this will be one of those items that we’ll want to tackle in the very early days of our administration.” 

Kinew referred to the ads run by the incumbent Progressive Conservatives, which ran in the Saturday edition of the Free Press 10 days before the election. The advertisement promoted the decision by Heather Stefanson to refuse to search the Prairie Green Landfill. 

“What I’m proud of is that Manitobans rejected that message of division, and you embraced a message of positivity,” Kinew said of the ad. 

Calls from across the province continue, “Search the landfill.” Kinew has yet to say specifically what he plans to do, but he has assured Manitobans he will take action on conducting a search. NDP MLA Leah Gazen has called for a landfill search to happen immediately. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anadasangaree announced last week that the Federal Government is providing $740,000 to Long Plain First Nation to determine if a safe and successful search is plausible. 

“I’m going to encourage the government [The Federal Liberal Party] not to stall. There was a feasibility study that’s already been done that said it was feasible. It’s time to move into action and stop delaying,” Gazen said. 

This most recent sum given by the Federal Government is in addition to $500,000 given to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to conduct a feasibility study published on July 24, 2023. The study determined the safety precautions which should be undertaken to conduct the search safely.  

The Stefanson Government continually touted the safety of those involved in the search as the reason a search could not be conducted. 

In a conversation had in July with Jorden Myran -sister of Marcades Myran whose remains are suspected to be in the Prairie Green Landfill- Heather Stefanson met with families of the deceased. Stefanson received the Feasibility Study the morning she met with the families. Despite having not read the study, Stefanson stood by her decision that day and every day since. 

As for the Federal Government, specifics on what they plan to do to help the Manitoba Government search the landfill remain to be determined.  

“This is the next natural step in this process,” Anadasangaree said of the money provided to Long Plain First Nation. “It’s important that we get that information required in order for us to assess where we go from here, and this is where I am looking forward to the Province of Manitoba being at the table.” 

“The Federal Government has human rights obligations,” Gazen said. “International rights obligations that they’re failing to uphold by not searching the landfill.” 

Wab Kinew has mentioned in interviews that he looks forward to working with the federal government to ensure the landfill search does happen. He has not stated a sum of money his government will be willing to spend, nor has he stated the manner in which the search will be done. While the presumed cost of a full excavation of the suspected area at Prairie Green landfill determined by the feasibility study done by the AMC is $184 million, Kinew has stated that alternative solutions will be explored. 

National Reactions 

Canada’s first Indigenous Attorney General called the NDP victory a momentous step on the path to reconciliation. Jody Wilson-Raybould said in an interview that she expects the new government in Manitoba to bring an Indigenous perspective and a multicultured worldview to the top job in the province. Wilson-Raybould has even gone so far as to say this perspective by the Manitoba government will be different than that seen at the federal level, which she has described as being performative. 

Many of the newly elected MLAs representing the NDP are culturally diverse. 20 of the 34 NDP candidates elected to the Legislative Assembly are Indigenous or people of colour. Of those 34 elected members, 14 are women or gender-diverse. Logan Oxenham, MLA for Kirkfield Park for the NDP, is the first openly transgender person to be elected as an MLA. Oxenham has talked openly about how important representation is in politics, especially considering the modern discourse pertaining to transgender people. 

Oxenham has previously worked as a correction officer and as a youth counsellor. He received the Manitoba 150 medal for the work he has done advocating for transgender Manitobans. 

– Matthew Harrison, U Multicultural

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