WINNIPEG — Manitoba Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew promised an economically focused, fiscally responsible government if his party wins the Oct. 3 election, although his outline to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was short on details and costs.
An NDP government would balance the budget within a first term, Kinew told chamber members at a luncheon Tuesday, while also expanding child care and promoting immigration.
Kinew also promised to enhance the mining sector by boosting critical mineral development.
"Not only do we have the critical minerals — lithium, cobalt, silica, nickel and so on — but we can produce those resources with higher labour standards, higher environmental standards and greater respect for human rights compared to any other jurisdiction in the world," Kinew told the audience.
The NDP, which represents all four northern Manitoba seats in the legislature, is in favour of mining, Kinew later told reporters.
"Those are important jobs that are the backbone of those communities, and we'd like to see more opportunities like that here in Manitoba," Kinew said.
The federal government has increasingly focused its attention on the critical mineral industry, in part to build a more robust supply chain to manufacture goods such as electric-vehicle batteries.
The United States is seeking a trusted trade partner for the materials, Kinew said, and Manitoba is well suited to be that partner.
Finance Minister Cliff Cullen said Kinew has opposed mining in the past by signing the Leap manifesto, a statement by environmental, labour, Indigenous and other groups roughly a decade ago. Among other things, the manifesto calls for no new infrastructure projects aimed at increasing extraction of non-renewable resources.
"He is the man that signed the Leap manifesto which said 'keep it in the ground,' so it sounds like he's having an about-face," Cullen said.
The governing Progressive Conservatives have also accused the NDP of planning to raise the sales tax if elected. Kinew has repeatedly denied that.
In the last election, the NDP campaign platform included a promise of higher income taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year. Kinew would not specify whether that promise will resurface.
"We're not rolling out our fiscal plan today," Kinew said.
"We'll lay out the details on the fiscal side as we get closer to the election."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2023.
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press