Manitoba Election 2023

The 2023 Manitoba election is fast approaching — and by all accounts we’re in for a two-horse race between Heather Stefanson’s Progressive Conservatives and Wab Kinew’s New Democratic Party.

Stefanson has led the province for two years following the resignation of former PC Leader Brian Pallister, making this vote the first chance Manitobans have to decide whether she’s done enough to warrant handing her a four-year mandate.

We’ll be keeping a close watch as the race unfolds, so sign up for our free, weekly newsletter where we’ll be sure to flag the latest in our ongoing coverage of this election (and other stories we’re proud of, to boot).

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Sign up for our weekly newsletter so you don’t miss out on stories about the future of Manitoba’s climate — from the campaign trail and beyond — and the natural world in Canada.

Manitoba election 2023: the basics

The Manitoba election date will be Oct. 3. Leadership hopefuls have started laying out their promises for Manitoba’s future.

So far, the NDP has taken a commanding lead in Winnipeg, according to polls, while the Conservatives lead rural constituencies. Pundits speculate swing ridings in the Winnipeg suburbs will hold the deciding votes in the 2023 Manitoba election.

It’s clear the state of health care along with a growing cost-of living-crisis and concern over public safety dominate debate. Any talk about the cost of living will bring with it debate over energy policy, carbon pricing and how best to grow the province’s economy.

The energy debate and what else to look out for

Former premier Pallister took a bold swing in his final months in office in 2021, mounting a legal challenge against the federally imposed carbon price by arguing the predominantly hydro-powered grid and a “made-in-Manitoba” climate action plan should exempt the province from federal pollution targets. The federal courts disagreed. When she took office weeks later, Stefanson said the province wouldn’t appeal the ruling and promised to take a more collegial approach with the federal government.

Her first 2023 Manitoba election campaign announcement reneged that promise: the PCs have pledged to “stop at nothing” to cut the tax — even if it lands them back in court.

Stefanson blames rising energy rates on the cost of carbon pollution, but has pitched an energy roadmap that relies even more on natural gas as demands on the power grid rise. Manitoba generates more carbon pollution now than it did 30 years ago.

Manitoba’s NDP has taken a different approach to the controversial carbon price, hinting it would negotiate a better deal with Ottawa while temporarily suspending the 14-cent provincial gas tax and freezing Manitoba Hydro electricity rates.

But cutting energy bills and reducing carbon pollution will take more than clever negotiation. Parties have yet to introduce concrete plans to improve energy efficiency, diversify the power grid and bring Manitoba in line with federal targets on conservation and pollution.

Other environment-related issues on voters’ minds range from the debate over a proposed silica sand mine (billed as crucial to a green-energy future) to getting Peguis First Nation residents home after a months-long flood evacuation to ensuring Manitobans are safe as climate change pushes temperatures to new extremes.

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