Wab Kinew is ready for battle in the upcoming provincial election.
The Manitoba NDP leader gathered with hundreds of boisterous supporters, many of whom carried orange and white signs with his name on one side and the slogan, “Vote for better health care” on the other, as he launched his party’s election campaign at the University of Manitoba on Monday afternoon.
Kinew was fired up for the 28-day campaign, which is expected to officially begin Tuesday when Premier Heather Stefanson calls an election, aiming to send the Progressive Conservatives to a third consecutive majority government.
“Are you ready to vote for better health care? Are you ready to vote to stop giving cheques to billionaires, and instead start to feed hungry kids in our schools? Are you ready to stick a fork in the PC government?” Kinew asked the crowd.
“I’m ready too.”
Kinew repeated several campaign promises to date, including building a new emergency department at Winnipeg’s Victoria Hospital.
He also stressed the importance every vote has.
“After seven years of cuts to health care, seven years of inaction on climate change after seven years of wage freezes and rising bills during a cost-of-living crisis, this is the most important election in recent memory,” Kinew said.
“This is a chance to push back against the extreme division that Heather Stefanson and other Conservatives are trying to push across this country.”
He portrayed Stefanson as someone who is trying to divide Manitobans.
“But that’s not who Manitobans are. Manitobans aren’t divided. We are united. We are one people,” he said.
And Kinew is the best person to lead the province coming out of the election, according to his wife.
Kinew’s wife, Lisa Monkman, was among a handful of supporters and sitting MLAs who took to the podium before Kinew.
“People are struggling in our province right now and health care is broken, so we need a leader with a big heart. We need a leader who can bring people together,” Monkman said. “We need a leader who can make health care better. This is Wab.”
Monkman said her husband is in this election fight for all of the right reasons.
“The last seven years haven’t always been easy, but Wab has absolutely stood up for what’s right,” Monkman said. “He’s fought every single day, and now he’s ready to lead.”
The Manitoba PCs enter the election campaign with 35 of the 57 seats in the legislature, while the NDP have 18 and the Dougald Lamont-led Manitoba Liberals have three seats. The seat in the riding of Morden-Winkler is vacant.