After governing for 17 years, the NDP government in Manitoba was defeated by the Progressive Conservatives. The Tories more than doubled their seat total from 19 to 40 on the strength of 53 per cent in the popular vote, as the NDP fell to just 14 seats. The provincial Liberals won three seats, tripling their previous total.
The NDP was unpopular following an increase in the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax and a cabinet revolt against premier Greg Selinger. The Conservatives ran a vanilla campaign under former MP Brian Pallister who promised to competently manage the provincial finances.
Campaign Life Coalition qualified only a handful of candidates as pro-life as the Liberals and NDP were committed to abortion-on-demand and many provincial PCs sought to avoid controversy on social issues. In its Manitoba election report on its website, CLC reports that “Many candidates in the NDP, Liberal and Green parties were quite open with CLC, and proud of, their support for child-killing via abortion and of their opposition to parental rights in education. Therefore, we were able to rate them as ‘pro-abortion’ or ‘anti-parental rights’.” Because so many Tory and Manitoba Party candidates did not respond to CLC’s questionnaire, “their position on life and family issues has been marked ‘unknown’ on our Candidate Rating web pages, even though some of them may in fact, turn out to be supportable.”
CLC Manitoba president Maria Slykerman encourage Manitoba residents to meet with their MLAs immediately to let them know voters care about life and family issues, including abortion funding, conscience rights to health care workers, and parental rights in education.
Life issues were generally ignored in the election campaign, but homosexuality came up several times. Premier Selinger vowed to appoint a minister responsible for LGBTQ issues, which would be a first in Canada. Despite the fact that PC leader Brian Pallister said “I’m not averse to” taking part in a Gay Pride parade if it did not conflict with his schedule, Selinger condemned the Tory as “homophobic.” In 2005, Pallister called same-sex “marriage” a social experiment but has since said his views have “evolved” to accept the law as it stands. He told reporters during the campaign, “the fact is the decision’s been made. The fact is what we all want to see is loving relationships supporting – when desired – children, and we want to see strong families.”
Among the four CLC-rated pro-life candidates, only two won, Tory MLAs Jon Reyes in the south Winnipeg riding of St. Norbert and Kelvin Goertzen in Steinbach northeast of the city. Goertzen, an MLA since 2003, is expected to hold a senior portfolio in the Pallister government.