Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew faced a barrage of criticism from his opponents Thursday night during the only televised debate of the 2023 provincial election race, including shots fired at some questions that weren’t even directed at him.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont used all his questions during the hour-long debate to grill Kinew on issues such as how he would tackle violent crime and deliver on his party’s promises.
Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Heather Stefanson took two of her opportunities to ask Lamont specific questions about Kinew, essentially using the Liberal leader to attack his main opponent.
The debate comes a day after the release of two polls suggesting the NDP leads the PC in popular support.
For the most part, leaders stuck to the talking points and promises they have trotted out throughout the election period.
SEE | Party leaders make their opening statements:
Stefanson focused his remarks on growing the economy and addressing the high cost of living, while Kinew talked about fixing the healthcare system and Lamont argued that none of his opponents are worthy of Manitobans’ votes, referring to both the PC’s plan such as the NDP as “fiscally delusional.”
But the night brought some highlights.
SEE | Party leaders on how they would address major issues:
Affordability and economy:
Crime and security:
Stefanson takes photos and sticks to the notes
In one question, Stefanson asked Lamont (not Kinew) about the effects of a provincial sales tax increase by an NDP government. His party, without evidence, has been complaining for months the NDP would increase the PST if elected.
He later told reporters the strategy was simply a way to “make sure Dougald Lamont had the opportunity to stand up and let everyone and Manitobans know what he stands for,” while Lamont said the PC leader raised important questions about the NDP, who they said “have been making it up as they go along.”
SEE | “Don’t be fooled by Mr. Kinew,” says Stefanson:
The PC leader also asked Lamont about Kinew’s statement during a CJOB radio debate This week, former Liberal Member of Parliament and current emergency room doctor Doug Eyolfson backed the NDP’s plan to reopen three Winnipeg emergency rooms. Lamont later held a press conference to denounce that as a lie.
Eyolfson also later said he hadn’t had time to read the NDP’s plan, much less endorse it, and while he publicly condemned the province for closing emergency rooms, he called Kinew’s description of his views a misunderstanding. , not a lie.
After Thursday’s debate, Kinew did not say he was wrong to describe Eyolfson’s remarks as an endorsement.
“I think we agree, Dr. Eyolfson and I, that closing emergency rooms was a big mistake,” he said.
Stefanson, who appeared to rely heavily on her notes throughout the debate, was also the first to raise calls for a search of the Prairie Green landfill near Winnipeg for the remains of two homicide victims from the First Nations.
She questioned Kinew’s leadership ability by mentioning your support for the search for landfillsreferring to his decision not to pay for a search as the kind of necessary but “very difficult” decision that leaders often face.
“This will happen again and again. And in this particular case, the answer had to be no,” he said.
When asked why he would not reconsider searching for the remains of Marcedes Myran or Morgan Harris, Stefanson did not mention any of the women’s names while talking about his government’s recent commitment to help. fund an indigenous-run addiction treatment center.
“That’s true reconciliation, working together: 180 more beds to help ensure that we prevent those people from getting the disease, to prevent the MMIWG from getting into this situation in the first place,” he said.
Kinew attacks PM’s record
Kinew responded to Stefanson during the debate, asking if he agreed that his government’s cuts to health care in Manitoba had tragic consequences, including the death of Krystal Mousseau, a 31-year-old woman who died during a failed transfer to an intensive care unit outside the province in 2021.
“I want everyone to remember Krystal’s name, because I think many of us in this province know someone who we still ask those ‘what if’ questions. What if the health care had been better?” he said.
SEE | “I want everyone to remember Krystal’s name,” Kinew says:
Kinew later attacked Stefanson’s record on handling crime and addictions as prime minister, accusing her of being “tough on the people who live at bus stops but soft on the people who supply them with drugs.”
He also said an NDP government would take steps to change bail conditions at the provincial level within 100 days of its election.
SEE | Kinew says he will address bail reform in his first 100 days as prime minister:
The NDP leader also raised his promise to bring back former Manitoba Premier Gary Doer as an advisor on trade between Canada and the United States, to which Stefanson responded with a moment of sarcasm.
“Am I missing something? Is Gary Doer running for politics in Manitoba again?” —He asked Kinew.
“I have a lot of respect for Gary Doer. There’s no doubt about it. But he’s not going to be the premier of Manitoba after this election, so you’re going to have to make some tough decisions if you get there, but I’ll tell you, we’ll make sure that Don’t get there.”
Lamont takes aim at his opponents
In an apparent reference to the NDP’s promise to stop sending educational tax refunds to corporate owners – but in another way leave PC practice practically intact – Lamont accused Kinew of sticking to the “Pallister plan” and used Kinew’s own slogan to compare the NDP leader to former PC premier Brian Pallister.
“How are you? You’re Pallister Kinew,” he said.
Lamont also suggested that neither Kinew nor Stefanson could fulfill all of their election promises, including balancing the budget, without cutting funds from somewhere.
“What they are promising are cuts,” he said.
At the end of the night, Kinew made another appeal to Liberal voters to consider giving their support in the upcoming election to the NDP, a party Lamont later accused of abandoning its principles.
New polls suggest NDP lead
A group of broadcasters cooperated to host the debate, which was broadcast live on CBC TV, radio and online.
It comes a day after the release of polls from the Angus Reid Institute and Probe Research suggesting the NDP has a strong lead in the race.
The Probe poll suggested the NDP has 49 per cent of voter support, compared to 38 per cent for the PCs and nine per cent for the Liberals.
Those polls suggest a shift in voter intent since June, when a Probe Research poll reported a plateau in support for the party across the province.
The upcoming election will also be a test for the PCs of Heather Stefanson, who has never stood in a provincial election as party leader.
SEE | Final statements from party leaders:
Going into the electoral period, the ruling PCs occupied 35 of the 57 seats in the Manitoba legislature. The NDP had 18, the Liberals three and one seat was vacant.
Early voting begins September 23 and runs through September 30.
Election day is October 3.
Watch the full debate: