New Democratic Party of Manitoba

Last updated
New Democratic Party of Manitoba
Active provincial party
Leader Wab Kinew
PresidentLonnie Patterson
Founded1961, predecessor Co-operative Commonwealth Federation founded in 1932
Preceded by Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Manitoba)
Headquarters294 Portage Avenue
Suite 803
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 0B9
Youth wing Manitoba Young New Democrats
Ideology Social democracy [1]
Political position Centre-left
National affiliation New Democratic Party
Colours Orange
Seats in Legislature
18 / 57

The New Democratic Party of Manitoba (French : Nouveau Parti démocratique du Manitoba) is a social-democratic political party in Manitoba, Canada. [2] It is the provincial wing of the federal New Democratic Party, and is a successor to the Manitoba Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. It is currently the opposition party in Manitoba.


Formation and early years

In the federal election of 1958, the national Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was reduced to only eight seats in the House of Commons of Canada. The CCF's leadership restructured the party during the next three years, and in 1961 it merged with the Canadian Labour Congress to create the New Democratic Party (NDP).

Most provincial wings of the CCF also transformed themselves into "New Democratic Party" organisations before the year was over, with Saskatchewan as the only exception. There was very little opposition to the change in Manitoba, and the Manitoba NDP was formally constituted on November 4, 1961. Future Manitoba NDP leader Howard Pawley was one of the few CCF members to oppose the change. Outgoing CCF leader Russell Paulley easily won the new party's leadership, defeating two minor figures who offered little in the way of policy alternatives.

The NDP did not initially achieve an electoral breakthrough in Manitoba, falling from eleven seats to seven in the provincial election of 1962. They recovered to ten seats in the 1966 election, but were still unable to seriously challenge Dufferin Roblin's Progressive Conservative government.

Party leadership contest in 1968

Many in the NDP considered Paulley's leadership a liability, especially after the 1966 election. Paulley was known as an old-style labour politician, and could not appeal to the broader constituency base that the party needed for an electoral breakthrough. In 1968, he was challenged for the party leadership by Sidney Green, a labour lawyer from north-end Winnipeg.

The 1968 leadership challenge was unusual, in that many of Paulley's supporters wanted him to resign the following year, so that he could be replaced by federal Member of Parliament (MP) Edward Schreyer. Some also regarded the challenge as reflecting ideological divisions in the party, with Green depicted as a candidate of the radical left. Green's supporters tended to be from the party's youth wing, while Paulley was supported by the party establishment and organized labour.

Paulley won the challenge 213 votes to 168, and resigned the following year. Edward Schreyer entered the contest to replace him, and defeated Green by 506 votes to 177.

Provincial election of 1969

The NDP won 28 of 57 seats in the 1969 election, and formed a minority government after gaining the support of maverick Manitoba Liberal Party Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Laurent Desjardins. Although the party had been expected to increase its parliamentary presence, its sudden victory was a surprise to most political observers.

The question of leadership was important to the NDP's victory. After Dufferin Roblin resigned as Premier in 1967, the Progressive Conservatives chose Walter Weir as his replacement. While Roblin was a Red Tory, Weir was from the party's rural conservative wing, and alienated many urban and centre-left voters who had previously supported the Tories. The Liberals, for their part, chose Robert Bend as their leader shortly before the election. Like Weir, Bend was a rural populist who had difficulty appealing to urban voters. He campaigned on a "cowboy/rodeo" theme that seemed anachronistic to most voters in 1969.

Schreyer, by contrast, was a centrist within the NDP. He was not ideologically committed to democratic socialism, and was in many respects more similar to Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau than to the province's traditional NDP leadership. He was also the first of Manitoba's social-democratic leaders who was not from an Anglo-Saxon and Protestant background. A German-Austrian Catholic from rural Manitoba, he appealed to constituencies that were not previously inclined to support the NDP.

In power

During the years of NDP government, major tax and social reforms were carried out, a major hydroelectricity development project was launched in the north of Manitoba, while the province spent heavily on public housing. [3] Schreyer's first administration introduced several important changes to the province. It amalgamated the city of Winnipeg, introduced public auto insurance, and significantly reduced Medicare premiums. Schreyer's cabinet was divided on providing provincial funding for denominational schools (with Green and others opposing any such funding), but resolved the issue by a compromise. The government also continued energy development projects in northern Manitoba.

Schreyer's government was re-elected with a parliamentary majority in the 1973 provincial election. His second ministry was less ambitious on policy matters than was his first, though the government did introduce a new tax on mining resources. In the 1977 election, Schreyer's New Democrats were upset by the Tories under Sterling Lyon.

Schreyer resigned as party leader in 1979, after being appointed Governor-General of Canada. Howard Pawley was chosen as interim leader over Sidney Green and Saul Mark Cherniack in a caucus vote, and later defeated Muriel Smith and Russell Doern to win the party's leadership at a delegated convention. Green left the NDP soon thereafter, claiming "the trade union movement and militant feminists" had taken control of the party. In 1981, Green formed the Progressive Party of Manitoba, joined by New Democratic MLAs Ben Hanuschak and Bud Boyce.

Despite these defections, Pawley's New Democrats were able to win a majority government in the 1981 election. Pawley's government introduced progressive labour legislation, and entrenched French language services in Manitoba's parliamentary and legal systems. Doern, who had served as a cabinet minister in Schreyer's government, left the NDP in 1984 on the language issue.

Declining popularity in the late 1980s

The New Democrats were re-elected with a narrow majority in the 1986 election. Over the next two years, the party suffered a significant decline in its popularity. Auto insurance premiums rose significantly during this period, and the government's support for the Meech Lake Accord also alienated some voters. Future party leader Gary Doer has claimed that an internal party poll put the NDP at only 6% popular support in early 1988.[ citation needed ]

Early in 1988, Jim Walding, a disgruntled NDP backbencher, voted with the opposition against his government's budget. This defection brought about the government's defeat in the house, and forced a new election before the NDP could recover its support base. Pawley immediately resigned as party leader, though he continued to lead a caretaker administration as Premier.

Gary Doer narrowly defeated Len Harapiak on the third ballot of the leadership convention which followed. Doer declined to be sworn in as Premier after the convention.

The Pawley government's achievements included the construction of the Limestone hydro project in northern Manitoba, and the enactment of the Manitoba Human Rights Code which included, for the first time in Manitoba, protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Electoral defeat and years in opposition (1988–1999)

The NDP was defeated in the 1988 election, winning only 12 seats out of 57. Gary Filmon's Tories won 25 seats, and the Liberal Party under Sharon Carstairs won 20 seats to supplant the NDP as the official opposition. Most of the NDP's seats were in north-end Winnipeg and the north of the province. Doer was not personally blamed for his party's poor performance, and remained as leader.

Filmon called another provincial election in 1990 to seek a majority mandate. He was successful, but Doer brought the NDP back to official opposition status with 20 seats, benefiting from a strong personal showing at the leaders' debate.

The NDP began the 1995 election well behind the Tories and Liberals, but received a last-minute surge in popular support and came very close to forming government. The party won 23 seats, with the Liberals falling to only three.

Filmon's Tories lost much of their popular support between 1995 and 1999, due to increased unemployment, the privatization of Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) and a vote-manipulation scandal in the 1995 election. Voters were also unnerved by Filmon's announcement that his government would undertake a further shift to the right if reelected. With the Liberals suffering from internal divisions, the NDP were able to present themselves as the only viable alternative. The 1999 election was considered too close to call until election day, but the NDP benefited from a decline in Liberal support and won 32 seats to form a majority government. Doer was sworn in as Premier after eleven years in opposition.

Return to government (1999–2016)

Doer government

The Doer government did not introduce as many radical initiatives as the Schreyer and Pawley governments, though it retained the NDP's traditional support for organized labour. Manitoba has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada as of 2004, and Doer's government remained generally popular with the electorate.

In the 2003 election, the NDP were re-elected with 35 seats and almost 50% of the popular vote, an impressive result in a three-party system. Doer was re-elected in his east-end Winnipeg riding of Concordia with over 75% of the popular vote, and the NDP also made inroads into traditional Tory bastions in south-end Winnipeg.

Doer became the only NDP premier in Manitoba history to capture a third majority when his party was re-elected during the 2007 provincial election. It won more seats than it had before: 36. Again, support was gathered from the south and western areas of Winnipeg which were traditionally thought to be safe for the Progressive Conservatives.

Under Doer, the NDP ran a moderate government that introduced a succession of balanced budgets. Doer's first budget, delivered in 2000, removed 15,000 low-income Manitobans from the tax rolls and introduced $150 million in tax breaks over three years while projecting a $10 million surplus. [4] His 2003 budget, the last of his first term, reduced provincial taxes by $82.7 million and increased spending by about 5%, mostly in health and education. [5]

Despite a series of economic setbacks, the government was able to post a balanced budget in 2004 through increased taxes and drug premiums as well as civil service reduction through attrition. Tobacco and liquor taxes were increased and the provincial sales tax expanded to cover more services, [6] although Doer rejected a panel recommendation to increase the sales tax by 1%. [7]

The government was able introduce a more expansive budget in 2005 after an infusion of federal revenues, reducing personal and property taxes, increasing spending by 3.5%, and putting $314 million into a "rainy day" fund. [8] Doer's 2006 and 2007 budgets introduced further tax cuts, and the 2007 budget offered increased education spending and a new child benefit to assist low-income families. [9]

At the Manitoba NDP's March 2009 convention, Doer announced that Manitoba would continue its commitment to education, training and research despite a global economic downturn and a slowing economy. He argued that the province was still recovering from the Filmon government's spending cuts during the economic downtown of the 1990s, and that his policies would allow Manitoba to emerge from the recession in a strong, competitive position. [10] His government introduced a balanced budget with economic stimulus programs a few weeks later, even as the global recession forced other provincial governments across Canada into deficit. [11]

Selinger government

After leading the party for over two decades, Doer retired as Premier and leader of the NDP on 27 August 2009 and was named Canadian Ambassador to the United States the next day. [12] [13] Following Doer's retirement Greg Selinger became leader of the party at the leadership convention in October 2009. [12] Despite gloomy predictions, Selinger led the NDP to its fourth straight majority government in the October 2011 general election, surpassing Doer's record and winning 37 seats.

In April 2013, the Selinger government did not fulfill an earlier promise not to increase the provincial sales tax. It instead implemented a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax from 7% to 8%, which resulted in a precipitous decline in popular support for the government and, ultimately, a caucus revolt against Selinger's leadership culminating in the resignation of five cabinet ministers. [14] [15] Due, in part, to the unpopularity of the tax increase, the NDP fell far behind the Opposition Progressive Conservatives in public opinion polls. In the fall of 2014, several cabinet ministers privately asked Selinger to resign in hopes that the party would recover under a new leader. However, Selinger declined. In September 2014, during a caucus retreat, several MLAs openly told Selinger that he needed to resign. However, he refused again. [15] A month later, at the end of October Jennifer Howard, (Fort Rouge), minister of finance, Stan Struthers, (Dauphin), minister of municipal government, Theresa Oswald, (Seine River), minister for jobs and the economy, Andrew Swan, (Minto), minister of justice and Erin Selby, (Southdale), minister of health. [16] and several senior party officials went public with their call for Selinger's resignation. [15] On November 3, the five ministers resigned from cabinet due to their opposition to Selinger's continued leadership. They did, however, remain in the NDP caucus as backbench MLAs. Selinger responded on November 9 by asking the party executive to hold a leadership election during the party's annual convention scheduled for March 6–8, 2015, stating his intention to be a candidate. [17] The party executive subsequently agreed. Theresa Oswald, one of the five rebel ex-ministers, challenged Selinger for the leadership and so did Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Steve Ashton who had not protested against Selinger but who resigned from cabinet to enter leadership contest. [18] At the March 8, 2015 leadership election, Ashton was eliminated on the first ballot and Selinger prevailed on the second ballot with 50.93% of ballots cast, defeating Oswald by 33 votes. [19]

The Selinger government's popularity never recovered from the 2013 decision to raise the PST. It was heavily defeated at the April 19, 2016 provincial election, dropping to only 14 seats, the party's worst showing since 1988. The Progressive Conservatives under Brian Pallister were elected to a majority government. Selinger announced his intention to resign as party leader in his concession speech. [20] [21] Logan MLA Flor Marcelino was named interim leader on May 7, 2016. [22]

Opposition (2016-present)

Wab Kinew

Prominent Indigenous broadcaster and first term MLA Wab Kinew was elected as permanent leader at the 2017 leadership convention, winning over 70% of the votes cast and defeating former cabinet minister Steve Ashton.

Kinew led the Manitoba NDP into the 2019 provincial election, which was called early by incumbent Premier Brian Pallister, to avoid any conflict with the celebrations planned in 2020 for the 150th anniversary of Manitoba joining Confederation. While the party increased its share of the popular vote and gained 6 seats in Winnipeg and the Northern Regions of the province, the PCs were re-elected to a majority government. The new 18-member NDP caucus was sworn in on September 27, 2019 and the new positions in the shadow cabinet were announced later that day.


Like its federal counterpart, the Manitoba NDP has historically had more long-term members than other registered parties in the province. It also has fewer short-term members who are signed up to influence nomination contests. [23]

Party leaders

† denotes interim or acting leader


#NameHighest PositionTenureNotes
1 Seymour Farmer Leader of the Opposition 1936–1947
2 Edwin Hansford Party Leader1947–1952
William "Scottie" Bryce Party Leader1952–1952Acting leader
3 Lloyd Stinson Party Leader1952–1960
4 Russell Paulley Party Leader1960–1961


#NameHighest PositionTenureNotes
1 Russell Paulley Party LeaderNovember 4, 1961 – June 7, 1969
2 Edward Schreyer PremierJune 7, 1969 – January 22, 1979First social democratic Premier of Manitoba, later appointed Governor General of Canada
3 Howard Pawley PremierJanuary 22, 1979 – March 30, 1988interim leader until Nov. 4, 1979
4 Gary Doer PremierMarch 30, 1988 – October 17, 2009Resigned to become Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.
5 Greg Selinger PremierOctober 17, 2009 – May 7, 2016
Flor Marcelino Leader of the OppositionMay 7, 2016 – September 16, 2017interim leader
6 Wab Kinew Leader of the OppositionSeptember 16, 2017 – present

Election results

1936 Seymour Farmer
7 / 55
Increase2.svg 7Increase2.svg 3rd12.0%Third Party
3 / 55
Decrease2.svg 4Steady2.svg 3rd17.0%Third Party
9 / 55
Increase2.svg 6Steady2.svg 3rd73,98833.8%Official Opposition
1949 Edwin Hansford
7 / 57
Decrease2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rd25.6%Third Party
1953 Lloyd Stinson
5 / 57
Decrease2.svg 2Steady2.svg 3rd44,33216.56%Third Party
11 / 57
Increase2.svg 6Steady2.svg 3rd20.0%Third Party
10 / 57
Decrease2.svg 1Steady2.svg 3rd68,14921.8%Third Party
1962 Russell Paulley
7 / 57
Decrease2.svg 3Steady2.svg 3rd47,30415.20%Third Party
11 / 57
Increase2.svg 4Steady2.svg 3rd130,10223.14%Third Party
1969 Edward Schreyer
28 / 57
Increase2.svg 17Increase2.svg 1st128,08038.27%Minority Government
31 / 57
Increase2.svg 3Steady2.svg 1st197,58542.31%Majority Government
23 / 57
Decrease2.svg 8Decrease2.svg 2nd188,12438.62%Official Opposition
1981 Howard Pawley
34 / 57
Increase2.svg 11Increase2.svg 1st228,78447.38%Majority Government
30 / 57
Decrease2.svg 4Steady2.svg 1st198,26141.50%Majority Government
1988 Gary Doer
12 / 57
Decrease2.svg 18Decrease2.svg 3rd126,95423.62%Third Party
20 / 57
Increase2.svg 8Increase2.svg 2nd141,32828.80%Official Opposition
23 / 57
Increase2.svg 3Steady2.svg 2nd165,48932.81%Official Opposition
32 / 57
Increase2.svg 9Increase2.svg 1st219,67944.51%Majority Government
35 / 57
Increase2.svg 3Steady2.svg 1st195,42549.47%Majority Government
36 / 57
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 1st200,83447.73%Majority Government
2011 Greg Selinger
37 / 57
Increase2.svg 1Steady2.svg 1st199,06946.16%Majority Government
14 / 57
Decrease2.svg 23Decrease2.svg 2nd112,56225.74%Official Opposition
2019 Wab Kinew
18 / 57
Increase2.svg 4Steady2.svg 2nd149,86831.38%Official Opposition

Current Manitoba New Democrat MLAs

Danielle Adams Thompson 2019
Nello Altomare Transcona 2019
Uzoma Asagwara Union Station 2019
Diljeet Brar Burrows 2019
Ian Bushie Keewatinook 2019
Nahanni Fontaine St. Johns 2016
Wab Kinew [lower-alpha 1] Fort Rouge 2016
Amanda Lathlin The Pas 2015
Tom Lindsey Flin Flon 2016
Jim Maloway [lower-alpha 2] Elmwood 1986
Malaya Marcelino Notre Dame 2019
Jamie Moses St. Vital 2019
Lisa Naylor Wolseley 2019
Adrien Sala St. James 2019
Mintu Sandhu The Maples 2019
Bernadette Smith Point Douglas 2017
Mark Wasyliw Fort Garry 2019
Matt Wiebe Concordia 2010

See also


  1. Leader of the Official Opposition, 2017–present
  2. Out of the Legislature from 2008-2011

Related Research Articles

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  1. Christopher Adams (1 January 2008). Politics in Manitoba: Parties, Leaders, and Voters. Univ. of Manitoba Press. pp. 129–. ISBN   978-0-88755-355-4.
  2. Barry Ferguson; Robert Wardhaugh (2010). Manitoba Premiers of the 19th and 20th Centuries. University of Regina Press. pp. 401–. ISBN   978-0-88977-216-8.
  3. Journeys: A History of Canada by R. D. Francis, Richard Jones, Donald B. Smith, R. D. Francis, Richard Jones, and Donald B. Smith
  4. David Roberts, "Manitoba raises health-care spending", Globe and Mail, 11 May 2000, A2. The actual surplus for 2000-01 was $26 million. See David Roberts, "Manitoba budget promises more spending, faster tax cuts", Globe and Mail, 11 April 2001, A7. His second budget, in 2001, pursued a consciously middle-of-the-road path by increasing government spending on education, health and infrastructure, while also bringing forward tax cuts for corporations and individuals. See David Roberts, "Manitoba budget promises more spending, faster tax cuts", Globe and Mail, 11 April 2001, A7; Helen Fallding, "NDP plays it safe", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 April 2001, A1. The 2002 budget made use of $288 million from Manitoba Hydro over a period of three years, and increased taxes on cigarettes on maintain a balanced budget. See "Smokers suffer big tax hit to keep Manitoba in black", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 23 April 2002, A5; David Kuxhaus, "Tapping Hydro profits best approach, NDP says", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 April 2002, A13. Doer defended the Hydro decision as a bold move that allowed the province to balance its budget without dipping into the Fiscal Stabilization Fund. See "Manitoba legislature wraps up lengthy spring session", Canadian Press, 9 August 2002, 12:25.
  5. Daniel Lett, "Spending up, taxes down", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 April 2003, A1; Frances Russell, "NDP does just enough to survive", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 April 2003, A14. Manitoba later announced that it would post a deficit for the fiscal year ending in 2003, using a clause in the province's balanced-budget legislation that permits deficit spending to cover emergency expenses. Greg Selinger, Doer's finance minister, cited the damage caused to Manitoba's economy by forest fires, drought and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). See Mia Rabson, "Provincial government faces deficit", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 March 2004, A3.
  6. Michelle Macafee, "Manitoba increases taxes, drug premiums to balance 2004-05 budget", Canadian Press, 19 April 2004, 17:45.
  7. Leah Janzen, "Doer rejects tax plan", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 May 2004, A1.
  8. Mia Rabson, "Doer's bonanza budget", Winnipeg Free Press, 9 March 2005, A1.
  9. Steve Lambert, "Manitoba government plans small tax cuts and new law on drug-addicted kids", Canadian Press, 5 March 2006, 11:11; Steve Lambert, "Tax cuts, new spending promised", Globe and Mail, 5 April 2007, A10.
  10. Steve Lambert, "Recession requires more, not less, social spending: Doer, Layton", Canadian Press, 7 March 2009, 04:52pm.
  11. Doer accessed the province's "rainy day fund", and committed less money than in past years to paying down the province's debt. See Bruce Owen, "Manitoba tables balanced budget in face of recession", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 March 2009, Canwest News Service; "Manitoba announces surplus budget", National Post, 26 March 2009, A4.
  12. 1 2 "Selinger picked as Manitoba's next NDP premier". CBC News. 17 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  13. Kevin Engstrom (27 August 2009). "Premier Gary Doer resigns". Winnipeg Sun . Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  14. "Manitoba NDP leadership: Greg Selinger re-elected, remains premier". CBC News. March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  15. 1 2 3 "A timeline of the Manitoba NDP leadership crisis". Metro. March 8, 2015. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  16. "5 Manitoba ministers resign from Premier Greg Selinger's cabinet, citing 'grave concerns'".
  17. Lambert, Steve (November 9, 2014). "Manitoba premier Greg Selinger will face party leadership vote in March". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014.
  18. "BREAKING: Steve Ashton enters Manitoba NDP leadership race". Global News. December 22, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  19. "Greg Selinger remains leader of Manitoba NDP, province's premier". CBC News. March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  20. "'Heart-breaking night': Future of Manitoba NDP unclear after loss to PCs".
  21. "Defeated NDP candidate says he and others lost because of outgoing premier".
  22. "'Years of experience Manitoba NDP appoint Flor Marcelino as interim party leader".
  23. Ian Stewart, Just One Vote: Jim Walding's nomination to constitutional defeat (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press), 2009, p. 5.