More women, more people of colour but fewer Indigenous MLAs in Manitoba legislature

By | September 12, 2019

Thirty of the MLAs in Manitoba’s 57-seat legislature this fall will be women, people of colour, Indigenous people or LGBTQ.

Fifteen women were elected to the legislature in Tuesday’s provincial election, along with seven people of colour, seven Indigenous people and one openly gay candidate.

“It’s amazing to see the representation. It is need in our province,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Tuesday evening after the results rolled in. “Our democracy is stronger when we can say everyone has a chance at sitting at the legislative chamber.”

While the victorious Progressive Conservatives ran 14 new female candidates this election, only one — Southdale candidate Audrey Gordon — won her seat.

With former cabinet minister Colleen Mayer’s loss in St. Vital Tuesday night, the governing party broke even, with eight women among the 36 PC MLAs elected Tuesday —  matching the historic high for the Manitoba party set in 2016.

Premier Brian Pallister said he made efforts to recruit women to run in the open seats this election, but couldn’t control the outcome. 

“I’ve done everything I can to make sure the candidates reflect the realities of Manitoba,” he said. “But ultimately, the people of Manitoba decide.”

Premier Brian Pallister says his party made efforts to recruit candidates who ‘reflect the realities of Manitoba.’ (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Two female Indo-Canadians ran for the Tories in Burrows and The Maples — had either won,they would have become the first female Indo-Canadian MLA in the province’s history.

Both came in second to NDP candidates.

Mary Agnes Welch, a principal at Probe Research, says PCs don’t traditionally seek out diversity the way their counterparts in the NDP do, but thinks the party has been making efforts under Pallister. 

“I think they have to buck that brand, especially in Winnipeg — particularly when it comes to women candidates — so they are actually seen as modern and reflective of the province,” she said.

For the Opposition NDP, Tuesday ushered in the most diverse group of MLAs in the party’s history. 

NDP says most diverse group ever elected

There are now six female MLAs and one gender non-confirming MLA in the 18-member NDP caucus, compared to four female NDP MLAs in 2016. 

Welch says that’s in keeping with the New Democrats’ brand.

“Their brand would be diversity and inclusion and feminism, and all of those things,” she said.

“They are probably ahead of the game.”

Cindy Lamoureux’s victory in Tyndall Park gives the Liberals one female MLA, among the three Liberals elected. They had two in 2016.

That brings the total number of female MLAs to 15, compared to 13 in 2016.

The NDP also have the only openly gay MLA at the legislature, after Lisa Naylor was elected in Wolseley. 

More people of colour, fewer Indigenous MLAs

In addition, seven MLAs at the legislature this fall will be persons of colour, compared to four in 2016. 

History was made on Tuesday with the election of the first three black MLAs ever elected to the Manitoba Legislature.

That includes Southdale’s Audrey Gordon for the PCs, along with the NDP’s Jamie Moses in St. Vital and Uzoma Asuwara in Union Station, who also identifies as queer.

Jamie Moses was one of three black MLAs elected on Tuesday — the first black candidates ever elected to Mantioba’s legislature. (Justin Deeley/CBC)

One Filipino (Malaya Marcelino in Notre Dame) and five Indigenous NDP candidates were also elected (party leader Wab Kinew in Fort Rouge, Ian Bushie in Keewatinook, Bernadette Smith in Point Douglas, Nahanni Fontaine in St. John’s and Amanda Laithlin in The Pas-Kameesak).

For the PCs, Filipino MLA Jon Reyes was re-elected in Waverley (previously the St. Norbert riding).

The election of NDP candidates Diljeet Brar (Burrows) and Mintu Sandhu (The Maples) means there will be two Indo-Canadians at the legislative assembly, compared to one in 2016. 

The Liberals do not have any Indigenous people or people of colour in their three-person caucus.

There will, though, be fewer Indigenous people at the legislature following Tuesday’s election. 

There were eight Indigenous MLAs after the 2016 election. There are now seven. 

Métis Tory MLAs Alan Lagimodiere (Selkirk) and Bob Lagassé (Dawson Trail) were re-elected on Tuesday, while Métis PC MLA Collen Mayer was unseated in St. Vital.