Pallister re-elected in Manitoba

The pollsters were right.

The Progressive Conservative party sailed to an election victory last night, un-officially winning 36 out of 57 possible seats in Manitoba’s legislature.

Premier Brian Pallister and the PC party won easily, thanks to overwhelming support in rural Manitoba. They took every constituency in the agricultural regions in the province and the areas around the city of Winnipeg, winning some seats with 70 percent of the vote.

The victory should be positive news for Manitoba’s agricultural industry, as rural and farm issues will have a strong voice in the legislature.

Several farmers, including former Keystone Agricultural Producers president Ian Wishart, were re-elected last night.

The NDP will form the official opposition in Manitoba. Leader Wab Kinew and the NDP took 18 seats – all in Winnipeg and northern Manitoba. The Liberals won the remaining three seats.

About a decade ago, the NDP were competitive in rural regions, like Manitoba’s Parkland and the Interlake, but they are now irrelevant across rural parts of the province.

In the 1990s and 2000s the NDP routinely held the Gimli-Interlake seat and the constituency of Swan River. In this election they received 33 percent of the vote in Gimli-Interlake and only 26 percent in Swan River.

Just prior to the election, polls suggested that 43 percent of Manitobans favoured the Tories.

The PC Party exceeded those predictions. The provincial vote share was:

• PC Party – 47 percent

• NDP – 31.8 percent

• Liberals – 14.5 percent

• Green – 6.4 percent

Speculation will now begin regarding the new cabinet. Ralph Eichler, MLA from Lakeside, has served as agriculture minister since Pallister took office in the spring of 2016 and possibly could return for another term.

The new education minister will have a tough assignment.

In early September Pallister promised to eliminate the education portion on property taxes in Manitoba.

“Manitoba has one of the most complicated and uneven education property tax regimes in the country,” he said. “With a re-elected PC government, education property taxes will be phased out – saving homeowners thousands of dollars each year on their property tax bill when fully implemented.”

The Keystone Agricultural Producers and other ag groups have argued, for years, that the system is unfair to farmers, claiming they pay a disproportionate share of education taxes in Manitoba.

The Tories have promised to phase out the education portion of property taxes beginning in 2023, with the goal of completely eliminating the tax by 2028.

The decision will likely have an impact on school boards and may lead to amalgamation of school divisions.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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