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OPINION: Shift in Power, Will Municipal Experience Matter in Manitoba?


(From Left to Right) Liberal candidate Neil Stewart, PC Candidates Alan McLauchlan, Derek Johnson, Konrad Narth, and Kevin Kline, and NDP Candidate Ron Kostyshyn

As the political landscape heats up in Manitoba, all eyes are on the impending provincial election set for October.


Beyond the traditional campaign rhetoric and promises, there's a significant factor at play that could shape the outcome of this election - in my humble opinion: provincial candidates' municipal experience. Across various ridings, incumbents and challengers with extensive records in local governance are vying for votes, promising to bring their tested leadership to the provincial level.


One of the most captivating races is taking place in the Lakeside riding. Trevor King, representing the Progressive Conservatives (PC), has an impressive history in municipal politics. Having served as Councillor for the Rural Municipality of Woodlands and subsequently as Reeve, King's extensive experience reflects his dedication to community growth and sustainable development. One of his opponents, Neil Stewart of the Liberal party, is no stranger to local governance either, having held the position of Deputy Reeve in the Rural Municipality of Piney. Lakeside is currently held by the governing PC's, MLA Ralph Eichler who announced early in 2022 that he would not be standing for re-election.


The Pas-Kameesak riding is witnessing a battle of seasoned municipal leaders. Alan McLauchlan, running under the PC banner, held the mayoral office in The Pas from 2010 to 2014. His track record in fostering community collaboration and progress could potentially translate into effective provincial policy-making. McLauclan is looking to defeat incumbent Amanda Lathlin of the Manitoba NDP.


Interlake-Gimli's race features Incumbent PC MLA Derek Johnson, who previously served as a councillor for the R.M. of St. Laurent. His bid for provincial office is built on his commitment to efficient resource management and sustainable rural development. This resonates with the local population, who have seen his dedication firsthand. Johnson currently serves as Minister of Agriculture in the Manitoba Cabinet.


Portage la Prairie's electoral arena showcases Jeff Bereza, a former city councillor, as the PC contender. With his extensive knowledge of local infrastructure and municipal services, Bereza's campaign is underpinned by a deep understanding of the needs of his constituents.

The riding is currently held by the governing PC's, MLA Ian Wishart announced in December of 2022 that he would not be standing for re-election in the riding.


In Red River North, Economic Development and Investment and Trade Minsiter Jeff Wharton's candidacy for the PC draws on his experience as a Councillor for the Town of Winnipeg Beach. This hands-on involvement in local decision-making equips him with insights into the concerns of the region, making him a formidable candidate. Wharton has been in office since 2016.

Environment Minister Kevin Klien, former councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood in Winnipeg, will be reoffering as the PC candidate in Kirkfield Park. Also standing for re-election is PC MLA for Brandon East, Len Isliefson, who brings his experience as the Councillor for Ward 9 – Riverview on the Brandon City Council.


PC MLA Dennis Smook announced his decision to retire at the end of the term, which opened the riding of La Verendrye for new faces. Former Rural Municipality of Stuartburn Deputy Reeve Kondrad Narth's will be carrying the PC banner in the coming election.

Former Reeve for Moosey River and Former NDP MLA Ron Kostyshyn is looking to make a political comeback in the riding of Dauphin. The Dauphin Riding is currently held by the governing PC's.

As the election draws near, the prominence of candidates with municipal experience underscores the vital role of local governance in shaping the province's future. Voters face a choice between candidates who have proven themselves on the community stage and those who offer different perspectives.


This election truly highlights the power of experience and the potential for a shift towards more informed, locally-rooted decision-making at the provincial level.


The Municipal Affairs with Chris Brown will be covering the election as it unfolds every monday at 10:00 AM MST/11:00 AM CST. Be sure to tune in.

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