By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Opposition New Democrats are gathering this weekend in Winnipeg with the party riding high in opinion polls and an election one year away.
Leader Wab Kinew told 190 delegates Friday night that the NDP raised a modern-day record amount of money last year. The party has also nominated candidates for the election slated for next October in more than half of the province’s 57 constituencies.
“There’s a lot of speculation about an early election. We’ll be ready to go whenever the writ is dropped,” Kinew said to applause.
Kinewis to outline some of his ideas Saturday and Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is the guest speaker at a fundraising dinner.
But most of the weekend will deal with policies to be debated by delegates.
Among the proposals is a ban on private long-term care homes, a ban on replacement workers during labour disputes, and a call to expand child care.
There are also proposals to protect gender expression under the human rights code and provide free public transit in Winnipeg.
Opinion polls since the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 have suggested the NDP has gained in popularity while the governing Progressive Conservatives have dropped.
The NDP has yet to lay out details of its plans if it wins the election.
The party has called for lower electricity rates, for example, but has not answered questions about how it would guarantee rates at Manitoba Hydro would remain stable. Hydro has seen its debt jump sharply in recent years and a bond-rating agency warned this year that rate increases have not kept up with rising costs.
The NDP may also face questions from delegates about whether grassroots members are fairly involved in party matters.
One resolution, endorsed by the Union Station constituency association in Winnipeg, calls for a review of the vetting process for candidates in elections. The group wants the process to be “more transparent and democratic, with an aim to include the constituency association and have additional representation on the vetting committee from all regions of the province.”
Another resolution calls for wider advance notice of annual conventions.
Currently, the party is required to give 90 days notice to certain groups such as constituency associations.
The resolution from the Wolseley constituency in Winnipeg calls for all party members to get that notice, partly because “members require sufficient notice to participate meaningfully in convention, to facilitate making arrangements for travel, child care and to develop policy resolutions.”