If NDP Leader Wab Kinew sounded like he was doing a victory lap Tuesday night — after his party suffered a resounding defeat — it may be because of all the new faces that will join him on the Opposition benches in the legislature.
The 42nd Manitoba general election produced 13 first-time MLAs — 11 of them are New Democrats, an astonishing number for a party that got thumped at the polls.
Once the new MLAs are sworn in, the NDP caucus will have 18 members in the 57-seat legislature — four more than it had following the 2016 election, and six more than it had when the 2019 election was called.
Kelly Saunders, a Brandon University political scientist, said Kinew's enthusiasm Tuesday seemed genuine, and not just a politician putting on a brave face. She said the new blood on the NDP team gives Kinew's leadership new life.
"Those are individuals who are going to owe their loyalty to him. They were brought in as candidates under his leadership," Saunders said Wednesday.
With the election loss, Kinew will automatically face a leadership review under NDP rules, but he doesn't look like a man who's ready to walk away from the job, she said. "I think he really has a chance now to put his own mark on the party and to begin fresh in a way that simply was not possible for him since he's been leader."
Saunders said Kinew, to his credit, was able to maintain his dignity and composure through a barrage of Tory campaign attacks. In doing so, he sent a message to any doubters within his own party that, "when the chips are down, he can handle himself and conduct himself in a way that is leadership material."
Going into the election campaign, the NDP were down two seats from the 14 they won in 2016, due to Greg Selinger's resignation in 2018 and the suspension of Mohinder Saran (the Maples) from caucus in 2017 for alleged sexual harassment.
The NDP lost Selinger's St. Boniface seat to the Liberals in a 2019 byelection, while Saran sat as an independent. Saran did not seek re-election, but the NDP still won the Maples on Tuesday, with Mintu Sandhu emerging the victor.
As the election neared, four NDP MLAs announced they would not run: Rob Altemeyer (Wolseley), Andrew Swan (Minto), James Allum (Fort Garry—Riverview) and Flor Marcelino (Logan). The latter three saw their constituencies changed (and renamed) in the recent redrawing of electoral boundaries.
The new NDP caucus will consist of 11 men and seven women, falling short of Kinew's stated goal — when running for party leadership two years ago — of electing 50 per cent women. However, the New Democrats will have the highest percentage of women MLAs of any of the three parties represented in the legislature.
Eight of the Progressive Conservatives' 36-member caucus are women. One of the three Liberals elected is a woman (Cindy Lamoureux).
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.