Manitoba’s party leaders stepped up their attacks over the weekend in a bid to gain momentum heading into the final full week of the provincial election campaign.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew pledged to improve highway safety in the province’s north, as well as fund more staff and equipment at health facilities in the region, during a campaign stop in Thompson over the weekend.
Kinew on Sunday accused Progressive Conservative Leader Heather Stefanson of turning her back on northern Manitobans through cuts and closures, which he said force people to wait longer and drive further to get the healthcare they need.
His promises included restoring birthing services to northern Manitoba, including in Pimicikamak Cree Nation and Norway House, as well as adding an MRI machine to the Thompson Hospital and improving safety on Highway 6 with more rest stops.
The Tories, meanwhile, stepped up attacks on Kinew, while at the same time promising to re-introduce legislation to expand liquor sales in the province.
In a newspaper ad Saturday, the PCs said Stefanson would “stand firm” on its refusal to search a landfill for the remains of two Indigenous women for health and safety reasons.
The ad also promised “stronger parental rights” and “bigger pay cheques” while claiming “Kinew and the NDP have zero experience running government.”
“If that doesn’t scare you, it should,” the PC ad said.
Dougald Lamont and the Manitoba Liberal Party on Sunday announced they would increase funding to the Manitoba Arts Council by $20 million and increase supports to Sport Manitoba.
Lamont, in a news release, called the organizations “some of the most important cultural institutions in Manitoba — the ones we love.” But he said for years there has been no increase in operating funding under the NDP or the PCs.
The election will be held Oct. 3. Advance voting began Saturday and continues until Sept. 30.
During last Thursday’s televised leaders debate, Stefanson questioned Kinew’s promise to search the Prairie Green Landfill north of Winnipeg, where the remains of two Indigenous women — Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran — are believed to be.
A feasibility study said a search of the landfill is possible, although it would have no guarantee of success and searchers would face hazards from asbestos and other toxic material.
Kinew responded to the question by accusing Stefanson of trying to divide people with wedge issues, saying he would “balance respect and dignity for the families while also being responsible with the public purse.”
PC candidate Kevin Klein announced Sunday, with a Costco in the background, that his party would bring back a bill to allow Manitobans to buy alcohol in more places — legislation that was blocked earlier this year by the NDP.
One of the bills would have paved the way for a pilot project in which liquor would be available in more retail environments such as corner stores or grocery stores. The second bill would have allowed private beer vendors and specialty wine stores to sell a wider range of alcohol products.
“Wab Kinew’s NDP can’t block this forever. It’s what Manitobans want,” Klein said Sunday.
The NDP has previously said it delayed the legislation because it felt the issue needed more study and there were concerns about alcohol being available for sale in corner stores such as 7-Eleven, where families shop.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.
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