Aaron Vincent Elkaim The Canadian Press Wab Kinew became on Tuesday evening the first indigenous person from a First Nation to take the reins of 'a Canadian province.
Manitoba experienced a historic moment Tuesday evening, as the leader of the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP), Wab Kinew, became the very first member of a First Nation to take the reins of a Canadian province.
On Wednesday, in Ottawa, his election was warmly applauded in the House of Commons.
“Today is a bad day for the Conservatives, but a great day for the people of Manitoba. Prime Minister-elect Wab Kinew led a historic and hopeful campaign,” federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh enthusiastically said during question period.
“I want to start by congratulating Wab Kinew on his election with the Manitoba NDP [Tuesday] night. This will be an opportunity for us to work with another progressive prime minister across the country. We will be able to work together, obviously, on affordability, the cost of living, housing, reconciliation and many important issues,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also declared the day after the election.
Mr. Kinew, 41, spent his youth in the Ojibwe community of Onigaming, near Kenora, Ontario. His family then moved to Winnipeg for his entry into school.
The NDP leader has placed improving Manitoba's health care system at the heart of his electoral priorities. His party notably promised the reopening of three emergency rooms, as well as the hiring of 300 new nurses in two years and 400 doctors in five years. He also committed to ending the imposition of compulsory overtime on nurses, improving health services in French and even making prescription contraceptives free for all.
“Lack of staff is the biggest problem in the health system today. This will be the biggest challenge for the next Manitoba government,” he declared at a press conference at the University of Winnipeg during the campaign which has just ended. Some $500 million will be set aside for a major health recruitment plan, which will extend over four years.
“To people considering a career in health care — and to health care workers across the country, in other provinces and around the world — I have a simple message: we need you,” said in the victory speech he delivered to his supporters.
The new Manitoba premier also committed to providing more resources to indigenous communities, including support for the creation of a new airport on Wasagamack First Nation lands and the establishment of indigenous language programs in schools.
Mr. Kinew is fluent in English, French and Ojibwe.
A man of many hats
Before his political career, Wab Kinew was the rapper of Dead Indians, a music group formed with his friends in the late 1990s. He was also a journalist at CBC and director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.
The politician noted that he had run-ins with the law when he was younger. He was notably accused of driving while intoxicated and assaulting a taxi driver in 2003. In 2016, in an interview with The Canadian Press, he said he “hit rock bottom on a personal level” at the beginning of the 2000s.
“I want to talk to the young neechies out there,” Mr. Kinew said the night he was elected, using the Ojibwe word for “friend.” “My life became infinitely better when I stopped making excuses and started looking for a reason [to move on]. And I found that reason in our family, I found that reason in our community. And I found this reason in our province and our country. »
During the electoral campaign, Wab Kinew, rejoicing at having had “a second chance in life”, stressed that it was the memory of these more difficult times which pushed him to launch into politics.
With this election victory, the Manitoba NDP replaces the Conservative Party, which had led the Prairie province since 2016. The Progressive Party also secured enough seats to form a majority government.< /p>