Manitoba’s next general election may be 10 months away, but Premier Heather Stefanson is already asking voters to grant a third term to her Progressive Conservatives.
Stefanson used her second state of the province address to make a re-election case, telling a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce audience that voters will make a choice in October 2023 between a Progressive Conservative party that will make Manitobans safer, improve health care and mitigate the rising cost of living — and an NDP that won’t.
“There is a choice to be made, folks, and I’m confident Manitobans will make right choice next year,” Stefanson told an audience of 985 people at RBC Convention Centre over the lunch hour Thursday.
Stefanson used her 24-minute address to highlight what she described as her government’s accomplishments since it first took power under former premier Brian Pallister in 2016.
Those included the reduction of Manitoba’s pandemic-exacerbated surgical backlog and finding money to allow the City of Winnipeg to extend water and sewer pipes to the southernmost section of CentrePort.
Stefanson acknowledged afterward her speech was a little more partisan than usual for a state of the province address.
“I think it’s time to show Manitobans the difference between the opposition NDP and ourselves,” Stefanson said.
Don’t deserve 3rd term: NDP
NDP leader Wab Kinew said he was not impressed.
“The speech we heard today acknowledged there’s a crisis in health care, with crime, with the cost of living — and all this has happened under Brian Pallister and Premier Stefanson’s watch,” Kinew said. “So my view is if you can’t get it done in two terms, you don’t deserve a third.”
Stefanson also suggested the PCs have been forced to deal with more crises since they came to power in 2016 than other Manitoban governments have been forced to contend with.
She described them “some of the worst challenges in history,” including the pandemic, flooding and the “unjust war in Ukraine.”
Stefanson did not make any new policy announcements. She had no choice but to avoid disclosing anything new because of the blackout on government announcements in place due to the provincial byelection in Kirkfield Park, a constituency in western Winnipeg.
That byelection, which will choose a successor to departed PC MLA Scott Fielding, takes place on Tuesday.
Stefanson did acknowledge the killing of four Indigenous women by a suspected serial killer.
“We have all been shaken to the core by the heinous crimes against Indigenous women in Manitoba,” she said. “We all have to do more as a community to ensure that these horrific acts of violence stop happening in our communities.”
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