2007 Manitoba General Election

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Jun 1, 2007

On May 22, 2007, Manitobans re-elected the New Democratic Party and Premier Gary Doer to a majority government. The election held historical significance, as it was the first time the New Democrats had won three consecutive majorities, and only the second time in Manitoba history that such a feat had been accomplished. This article provides an overview of the 2007 Manitoba General Election, including information on the electoral process, recent provincial election history, policies and leaders of the majority political parties, and the results of the vote.

Voting in the 2007 Manitoba Election

What you need to know to vote in the election

Recent Manitoba Election History

Recent elections and pre-election party standings

Political Parties in the 2007 Manitoba Election

The policies and leaders of the major Manitoba political parties

2007 Manitoba Election Results

Manitona New Democratic Party wins a majority government

Sources and Links for More Information

List of article sources and links for more on this topic


Voting in the 2007 Manitoba Election

What you need to know to vote in the election

How the General Election Works in Manitoba

The purpose of a provincial general election is to provide residents of Manitoba with an opportunity to elect representatives to the provincial legislature, which is called the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba .

How exactly does a general election work? First, it is worth noting that the province is divided into electoral divisions or districts, which are geographically based and represent particular areas of the province. Each electoral division has one representative in the legislature, who is formally referred to as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).

During a general election, voters are presented with a list of candidates, all of who are vying to become MLA for a given electoral division. These candidates are generally associated with one of the recognized political parties. On the day of the election, voters in each electoral division cast a ballot in favour of their preferred candidate. The candidate that wins the most votes becomes the MLA for the electoral division.

The result of these electoral district elections determine, in turn, who will govern the province. Except in rare cases, the political party with the greatest number of elected MLAs will form the government (either as a majority or minority government). The leader of this governing party becomes the new Premier of Manitoba.

Who Can Vote in the Manitoba Election

A person is qualified to vote in a Manitoba provincial election if s/he is:

  • A minimum of 18 years of age on or before Election Day
  • A Canadian citizen
  • A resident of Manitoba for six months immediately before Election Day

(Source: Elections Manitoba, April 30 2007, http://www.electionsmanitoba.ca/main/voter/voter_intro.htm)

How to Vote in the Manitoba Election

To vote in the election, electors must be registered on the Voters List. An elector can enter his/her name on the Voters List at enumeration or have it added at the poll on Election Day. To add a name at the poll on Election Day, an elector must have the required identification and sign an oath of eligibility. Proper identification would include either one piece of government-issued identification (such as a driver’s licence) or two or more pieces of identification that, together, confirm the person’s identification.

On Election Day, voters attend their designated polling stations (polling station locations are available from the Returning Officer and the Elections Manitoba Web site). Regular polls are open from 8 am to 8 pm on Election Day. Once a voter’s identity has been established, the voter is given ballot paper, which s/he takes into a designated polling booth. The voter then selects his/her preferred electoral candidate by marking the ballot paper and depositing it into the ballot box.

For more information on how to vote in the election, including advance polling, voting at home and absentee voting, consult:


Recent Manitoba Election History

Recent elections and pre-election party standings

2003 Manitoba General Election

The last Manitoba general election was held in 2003; in that election, the Manitoba New Democratic Party (NDP), helmed by Gary Doer, won a majority government. This was the second consecutive majority government for the NDP. The Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party, led by Stuart Murray, formed the Official Opposition.

Results of 2003 Manitoba General Election

 

Seats

Votes (%)

Status

NDP

35

49.47

Majority government

Progressive Conservative Party

20

36.19

Official Opposition

Liberal Party

2

13.19

 

For more information on the 2003 Manitoba General Election:

Recent By-elections

Since the general election in 2003, several by-elections have been held in the Province. These by-elections have not impacted party statuses in the Legislature; in each case, the incumbent political party reclaimed the seat.

Results of Manitoba By-elections (2003-07)

Date

Riding

Previous Member (Party)

New Member (Party)

2004

Minto

MaryAnn Mihychuk (NDP)

Andrew Swan (NDP)

 

Turtle Mountain

Merv Tweed (PC)

Cliff Cullen (PC)

2005

Fort Whyte

John Loewan (PC)

Hugh McFadyen (PC)

Other Key Events in the Legislature

In 2006, Progressive Conservative MLA Stuart Murray, who represented the riding of Kirkfield Park, resigned his seat in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. Murray had been the leader of the Liberal Party, but announced his intent to leave provincial politics following an unfavourable leadership review in 2005. Murray’s seat remained vacant at the time of the legislature’s dissolution in 2007.

In April 2007, Progressive Conservative MLA Denis Rocan, who represented the riding of Carman, was ejected from the Liberal Party caucus. Rocan had broken from his party on the 2007 budget vote by supporting the NDP government’s budget. Rocan subsequently sat as an independent in the legislature.

Party Standings at the Time of Dissolution

When the election was called, in April 2007, the standings of each party in the Legislative Assembly were as follows.

Party Standings at Dissolution 2007

 

Seats

Status

NDP

35

Majority government

Progressive Conservative

18

Official Opposition

Liberal

2

 

Independent

1

 

Vacant

1

 

Progressive Conservatives Elects a New Leader

In April 2006, the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba held a leadership convention to replace former leader Stuart Murray. Murray had become leader of the Party in 2000, following the resignation of Gary Filmon. Under Murray, the Party fell to 20 seats in the 2003 general election, its lowest total since 1953.

In a leadership review in 2005, Murray received the support of only 45 percent of party members; he subsequently announced his intention to step down as leader and leave provincial politics. At the 2006 leadership convention, Hugh McFayden, a former advisor to PC Premier Gary Filmon, was elected the new leader of the Party, receiving two thirds of the first-ballot votes. 


Political Parties in the 2007 Manitoba Election

Policies and leaders of the major political parties

New Democratic Party of Manitoba

The New Democratic Party of Manitoba is a social democratic party and is also the provincial wing of the federal New Democratic Party. At the time the 2007 general election was called, the NDP was the governing party in the Manitoba Legislature.

Traditionally, the Party has enjoyed close ties with provincial labour movements in addition to being a strong supporter of government participation in the economy and society. The Party was first elected to government in 1969; it has governed Manitoba through the periods 1969-77, 1981-88, and 1999-2007 (pending the outcome of the 2007 general election).

Gary Doer is the leader of the Manitoba NDP going into the 2007 general election. He has led the Party since 1988, and has been Premier of Manitoba since 1999. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Doer previously worked as Superintendent of the Vaughan Street Detention Centre, and was president of the Manitoba Government Employees Union. He was first elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 1986, and served in the Cabinet of former NDP Premier Howard Pawley (1986-87).

In the 2007 general election, the Manitoba NDP is campaigning on seven key priorities, which include:

  • Health care: more health care professionals, equipment and capital improvements
  • Environment: building on hydro and clean-energy advantage; water protection
  • Education: more skills and education opportunities for young people
  • Public safety: more crime-fighting measures and positive opportunities for youth
  • Infrastructure: new roads and highways; completion of Floodway expansion in the Winnipeg area
  • Fiscal responsibility: education funding; balanced budgets; tax reductions
  • Public utilities: keeping Manitoba Hydro a public utility for the benefit of all Manitobans

For more information on the NDP’s 2007 election campaign platform:

 Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba

The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba is a right-of-centre provincial political party. At the calling of the 2007 general election, the PC Party was the official opposition in the Manitoba Legislature.

In the early 1900s, the PC Party was a brokerage political party (a brokerage political party is one that attempts to encompass different political interests, regardless of political ideology, in an attempt to gain political power). In 1975, following the selection of Sterling Lyon as leader, the PC Party took a clear conservative direction. The Lyon government of 1977-81 implemented a program of spending cuts and reduced taxes. Subsequent PC governments in the 1980s and 90s continued conservative policies of tax reductions, mandated balanced budgets, and limits on the power of public service unions.

Hugh McFadyen is the leader of the PC Party in the 2007 general election. Born in Selkirk, Manitoba, McFadyen previously worked as a lawyer and senior political advisor to former PC Premier Gary Filmon and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. McFadyen was first elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 2005, representing the riding of Fort Whyte. He was selected leader of the Party later that year, following the resignation of former leader Stuart Murray.

For more information on Hugh McFayden:

Key issues for PC Party in the 2007 general election include:

  • Public safety: The Party has made public safety and crime a central component of its campaign. Specific proposals include the construction of a new jail, adding new prosecutors and police officers, and stiffer mandatory sentences for Manitoba’s worse offenders.
  • Child care: The Party has pledged to maintain and enhance Manitoba’s current childcare program by increasing funding to create new childcare spaces while increasing wages for childcare workers.
  • Public utilities: The Party has committed to passing a Legacy Act to secure the continued public ownership of Manitoba Hydro for current and future generations.
  • Taxes: Several tax reduction initiatives have been proposed, including reducing the Provincial Sales Tax by one percent and abolishing a $2.00 cattle tax charged to provincial cattle farmers.

For more information on the PC Party 2007 election platform:

Liberal Party of Manitoba

The Liberal Party of Manitoba is a centrist political party that has participated in provincial politics since 1870. Traditionally, the Liberals have been a brokerage party, encompassing different political interests and elites in an attempt to gain political power. The Party had its greatest success in the early part of the province’s history, forming governments in the periods 1888-99, 1915-22, and 1932-58. Since 1958, however, the Party has struggled to gain electoral success. Its best showing was in 1988, when it won 20 seats and formed the Official Opposition. Heading into the 2007 general election, the Liberals had only two 2 seats in the Legislature.

Jon Gerrard is the leader of the Liberal Party in the 2007 general election. Born in England, Gerrard previously worked as Head of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. Gerrard began his political life at the federal level, first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 for the Liberal Party of Canada. During this time, he served as Secretary of State for Science and Technology and Secretary of State for Western Economic Diversification. In 1998, he was selected leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba; he was subsequently elected to the Manitoba Legislature for the riding of River Heights in 1999.

For more information on Jon Gerrard:

The party’s 2007 election platform focuses on the following areas of priority:

  • Health care: Cutting wait times for major and diagnostic procedures; improving community health care (especially for rural areas); improving the recruitment of family doctors; doing more to fight preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and infant dental care; making health care safer by creating a Medical Procedure Improvement Team; and improving Aboriginal health care.
  • Economy: Phasing out the payroll tax and reducing personal income tax; increasing funding for research and development in the province; investing in transportation infrastructure; make Manitoba Hydro an economic driver by expanding the public utility into other energy fields; restoring investor confidence in the province by calling a public inquiry into the failure of the Crocus Fund (a labour-driven investment fund in Manitoba that went bankrupt).
  • Education: Lowering the high school drop-out rate; expanding co-op placement programs in high schools and post-secondary institutions; cutting property taxes by funding schools from general government revenues; increasing core funding for universities and colleges; reducing post-secondary student debt; re-instating grants and bursaries for students that stay in Manitoba after graduation.
  • Environment: Reducing Manitoba’s greenhouse gas emissions; removing the provincial sales tax from the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles; encouraging renewable energy mass transit; investing in the development of bio-diesel; cleaning up Lake Winnipeg.
  • Community Safety: Building stronger, safer communities by increasing funding to the police and crown prosecutors, addressing social problems that are the root causes of crime, strengthening sentences for car theft, tax breaks for first-time home owners, implementing community initiatives, such as neighbourhood renewal and youth prevention and intervention programs.
  • Social Justice: Focusing on helping the most vulnerable in society by taking action against child poverty, providing better support for low income families, overhauling key government social departments (such as Child and Family Services and Manitoba Housing), improving workplace safety.

For more information on the Party’s 2007 election platform:

Other Registered Political Parties

(Source: Elections Manitoba, 30 April 2007, http://www.electionsmanitoba.ca/main/media/parties.htm )


2007 Manitoba Election Results

NDP wins a majority government

The New Democratic Party won a third consecutive majority government, with Gary Doer returning as the province's Premier. The NDP won 36 seats (of a possible 57) and 47.73 percent of the popular vote (Source: CBC., Manitoba Votes 2007). This represented an increase of 1 seat for the NDP from the 2003 general election, albeit with a small drop in the popular vote (in 2003, the NDP gained 49.47 percent of the vote).

The Progressive Conservative Party won 19 seats and 38.20 percent of the vote, becoming the Official Opposition in the provincial legislature (Source: CBC., Manitoba Votes 2007). In 2003, the Party won 20 seats with 36.19 percent of the vote. Rounding out the results was the Liberal Party, which won 2 seats and 12.36 percent of the popular vote (Source: CBC., Manitoba Votes 2007). This was almost identical to their 2003 numbers of 2 seats and 13.19 percent of the vote.

The win by the NDP had historical significance. Never before had the NDP won a majority government three times in a row. Moreover, such a feat had only been accomplished once before in Manitoba provincial politics; the Progressive Conservative Party, helmed by Duff Roblin, won three consecutive majorities in 1959, 1962, and 1966. Premier Gary Doer and the NDP where first elected to government in 1999.


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