It was a good night for conservatives — in Manitoba.
The Canadian prairie province ousted the NDP government of Greg Selinger in favor of the Progressive Conservative Party led by Brian Pallister. As of this writing, the Tories are elected or leading in 41 seats, with the NDP reduced to 13 seats with three seats for the Liberals (although their leader Rana Bokhari has lost her seat). The Green Party appears to be shut out.
The Manitoba NDP had the longest reigning provincial government in the country having been in power since 1999 first under Gary Doer (who would later become Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.) and then Greg Selinger. Support for the NDP severely declined after Selinger reneged on a promise to not raise the provincial sales tax from 7 to 8%. This would lead to a cabinet revolt and a departure of five cabinet ministers and a challenge to Selinger’s leadership. While Selinger survived the challenge to his leadership, the writing was on the wall.
April has been a very bad month for the NDP. First, there was the NDP losing a third consecutive provincial election in Saskatchewan, the cradle of Canadian socialism, to Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party. A week later, delegates at the Federal NDP Convention in Edmonton rejected the leadership of Thomas Mulcair after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals stole his thunder and are likely to accept parts of the far Left Leap Manifesto. And now an NDP government that had been in power for nearly 17 years has fallen. While Selinger retained his seat, he promptly resigned as NDP leader.
With the Manitoba NDP out of power, the only remaining NDP government is in Alberta. After winning in a shocking upset in May 2015, the Alberta NDP finds itself in third place in public opinion polls behind both the Tories and the Wildrose Party.
Tonight marks the first time the Tories have held power since the government of Gary Filmon which was in office from 1988 to 1999. Pallister was a member of Filmon’s cabinet from 1992 to 1997 before unsuccessfully running for federal office in 1997. In 2000, Pallister would be elected to the House of Commons and re-elected in 2004 and 2006. Pallister returned to provincial politics in 2012 succeeding Hugh McFadyen as leader of the Manitoba Tories.
Pallister ran a nearly flawless campaign although a story emerged late in the campaign revealing his extensive travels to Costa Rica. Since 2012, Pallister has traveled to the Central American nation 15 times. But Manitoba voters looked past this and gave him and the Tories an overwhelming mandate. If I’m a conservative tonight, I’d much rather be in Manitoba than in Manhattan.