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Encyclopedia > Manitoba general election, 1988

The election of May 9, 1988 in Manitoba, Canada resulted in a hung parliament. The Progressive Conservatives won 25 seats, against 20 for the Liberals and 12 for the New Democratic Party.



The election was called unexpectedly in early 1988, after disgruntled NDP backbencher Jim Walding voted against his government's budget on March 9, 1988. Walding's defection in an almost evenly-divided house resulted in Howard Pawley's NDP government being defeated, 28 votes to 27. As the budget vote was a confidence measure, the Pawley ministry was forced to resign and call new elections two years ahead of schedule.

Popular support for the NDP was at an historically low level when the election was called, due to soaring Autopac rates and a taxpayer-funded bailout of the Manitoba Telephone System. The Pawley government's support for the Meech Lake Accord was also unpopular in some circles. One internal poll had the party at only 6% support, and there were concerns that they could be reduced to only two or three seats in the 57-seat legislature. Pawley resigned as party leader, and Gary Doer narrowly defeated Leonard Harapiak to replace him at a party convention held during the campaign.

Doer's selection did not improve the NDP's chances of forming government, though they managed to stabilize at around 20% in the polls. Many traditional NDP voters, especially in the city of Winnipeg, abandoned the party to support the Liberals in this cycle.


The Progressive Conservatives under Gary Filmon ran on a platform of saving revenue by selling public corporations, including ManOil and Manfor. Filmon also promised to scrap the province's Public Investment Corporation entirely. The Liberals also promised more prudent fiscal management, but did not propose to sell these crown corporations. Liberal leader Sharon Carstairs was also known as a prominent opponent of the Meech Lake Accord.

The NDP, which retained a support base in the north of the province, promised to create northern training centres in Thompson and The Pas.

The national abortion debate also surfaced in this campaign, although none of the major parties put forward a clear position on the issue. Although Filmon was personally pro-life, the Progressive Conservatives were unwilling to propose specific action on the subject, and withdrew from an early promise to close Henry Morgentaler's private clinic. The Liberals favoured counselling, including a focus on adoption. The NDP emphasized prevention and support services for poorer women who choose to continue their pregnancies.

The small Progressive Party promised balanced budgets, opposed affirmative action, and was against government interference in negotiations between trade unions and management.

The Campaign

The Progressive Conservatives entered the election with a significant lead in the polls, but saw their support undercut by the Liberals in the campaign's final weeks. Before the party leaders' debate, a Winnipeg Free Press poll indicated that 40% of voters considered Liberal leader Sharon Carstairs as the best choice for Premier, with 24% favouring Progressive Conservative Gary Filmon and 19% favouring NDP leader Gary Doer. 17% were undecided.

Carstairs performed well in the leaders' debate, and did much to improve her party's popularity as the campaign reached its end.


The Liberal Party performed extremely well in Winnipeg, winning 19 out of 29 seats in that city and picking up ridings from both the NDP and Tories. The party won only one seat outside Winnipeg, however, in the urban community of Selkirk.

The Progressive Conservatives thoroughly dominated the rural south of the province, and made some inroads into NDP territory immediately north of Winnipeg. The party also won six seats in Winnipeg, and took the northern seat of Swan River from the NDP.

The New Democrats managed to retain four seats in Winnipeg, five in the north, the mid-northern ridings of Duaphin and Interlake, and Brandon East in the south of the province.

Exit polls later revealed that "new voters" (ie. immigrants and first-time voters) had polled strongly for the Liberals in Winnipeg.

Gary Filmon was named Premier, and the Progressive Conservatives were able to form government through an unofficial arrangement with the NDP. It may be noted that both parties were concerned about a Liberal victory in the next election.

See also: List of Manitoba general elections

Provincial results

Party Standings
Party Leader Pre-election seats Results
Seats % of votes cast
Progressive Conservative Gary Filmon 26 25 %
Liberal Sharon Carstairs 1 20 %
New Democratic Gary Doer 30 12 %
Progressive Sidney Green 0 0 %
Libertarian Clancy Smith 0 0 %
Confederation of Regions Dennis Heeney 0 0 %
Communist Lorne Robson 0 0 %
Western Independence Fred Cameron 0 0 %
Independent n/a 0 0 %
Total     57 100.0%

Riding-by-riding results

Party key:

(x) denotes incumbent.

Riding results:


  • (x)Jim Downey (PC) 4359
  • Douglas Mosset (L) 2171
  • Ross Meggison (CoR) 863
  • Goldwyn Jones (NDP) 575


Brandon East:

  • (x)Leonard Evans (NDP) 3512
  • Jim Armstrong (PC) 2859
  • Lois Fjeldsted (L) 2260
  • Garth Shurvell (Ind) 208

Brandon West:

  • (x)James McCrae (PC) 5039
  • John Worley (L) 3618
  • Ishbel Solvason (NDP) 2313



  • (x)Jim Ernst (PC) 6670
  • Shari Nelson (L) 5850
  • Bruno Zimmer (NDP) 1180
  • David Hollins (Ind) 158


  • (x)Jay Cowan (NDP) 2396
  • Wayne Wittmeier (PC) 1019
  • George Kernaghan (L) 714


  • (x)Gary Doer (NDP) 3702
  • Barbara Blomeley (L) 2948
  • Victor Rubiletz (PC) 2634
  • Bill Seman (Ind) 358
  • Fred Cameron (WIP) 114
  • Charles Henry (P) 61


  • (x)John Plohman (NDP) 3983
  • Russell Secord (PC) 3435
  • Peter Rampton (L) 2475


  • Avis Gray (L) 3081
  • (x)Harvey Smith (NDP) 2457
  • Alex Arenson (PC) 1538
  • Susan Caine (WIP) 109



  • (x)Albert Driedger (PC) 5027
  • Martin Stadler (L) 2615
  • Kurt Penner (NDP) 1407
  • Jake Wall (CoR) 366

Flin Flon:

  • (x)Jerry Storie (NDP) 2948
  • Gordon Mitchell (PC) 1563
  • Brian King (L) 867

Fort Garry:

Fort Rouge:

  • Jim Carr (L) 5127
  • (x)Roland Penner (NDP) 2912
  • Robert Haier (PC) 2303
  • Gordon Pratt (P) 75
  • Dennis Owens (Lbt) 66
  • Nigel Hanrahan (Comm) 46



  • (x)Charlotte Oleson (PC) 3760
  • Cordell Barker (L) 2132
  • Brian Hildebrandt (CoR) 759
  • Fred Tait (NDP) 509



  • (x)Bill Uruski (NDP) 3057
  • Ed Dandeneau (PC) 2810
  • Clyde Sigurdson (L) 1777


Kirkfield Park:

  • (x)Gerrie Hammond (PC) 5269
  • Irene Friesen (L) 5014
  • Hamish Gavin (NDP) 868

Lac du Bonnet:


  • (x)Harry Enns (PC) 4475
  • Delmer Nott (L) 2828
  • Eduard Hiebert (NDP) 972
  • Cam Baldwin (CoR) 864

La Verendrye:

  • (x)Helmut Pankratz (PC) 4377
  • C.E. Goertzen (L) 2948
  • Walter McDowell (NDP) 708




  • (x)Clayton Manness (PC) 4578
  • Barbara Plas (L) 1832
  • Raymond Switzer (CoR) 597
  • Clifford Hodgins (NDP) 449
  • Jeffrey Plas (Ind) 57


  • Herold Driedger (L) 8576
  • (x)Abe Kovnats (PC) 7222
  • Stan Williams (NDP) 2026
  • Lyle Cruickshank (WIP) 237



  • (x)Don Orchard (PC) 6043
  • Marilyn Skubovius (L) 2171
  • Abe Giesbrecht (CoR) 499
  • Hans Wittich (NDP) 382

Portage La Prairie:



  • Jack Penner (PC) 5166
  • Walter Hebert (L) 1059
  • Reg Loeppky (NDP) 341


  • (x)Gerry Ducharme (PC) 4289
  • Chris Sigurdson (L) 3965
  • Bob Ages (NDP) 1834
  • John Hiebert (CoR) 121
  • Neil Knight (WIP) 75

River East:

  • (x)Bonnie Mitchelson (PC) 7563
  • Morley Golden (L) 3805
  • Michael Dyck (NDP) 3019
  • Niel Friesen (WIP) 233

River Heights:

  • (x)Sharon Carstairs (L) 6620
  • Bob Vandewater (PC) 3373
  • Harry Daniels (NDP) 1036
  • Jim Wiedman (Lbt) 62


  • (x)Len Derkach (PC) 4030
  • Neil Stewart (L) 2513
  • Dennis Trinder (NDP) 1973



  • (x)Elijah Harper (NDP) 2206
  • Joe Guy Wood (PC) 1419
  • Maurice Berens (L) 638

St. Boniface:

  • Neil Gaudry (L) 5743
  • Lorette Beaudry-Ferland (NDP) 2061
  • Guy Savoie (PC) 1586

St. James:

St. Johns:

  • (x)Judy Wasylycia-Leis (NDP) 3092
  • Ruth Oberman (L) 2480
  • Lynn Filbert (PC) 1222
  • Cyril Fogel (P) 171
  • Roy Price (Ind) 68
  • Gerald Zucawich (Ind) 35

St. Norbert:

St. Vital:

  • Bob Rose (L) 4431
  • Paul Herriot (PC) 3614
  • Gerri Unwin (NDP) 2282
  • Katharina Cameron (WIP) 123
  • Trevor Wiebe (Lbt) 46

Ste. Rose:

  • (x)Glen Cummings (PC) 3723
  • Brent Johnson (L) 2631
  • Gerald Follows (NDP) 1464
  • David Mutch (CoR) 249


  • Gwen Charles (L) 3821
  • Terry Sargeant (NDP) 3637
  • Eugene Kinaschuk (PC) 3138
  • Ruth VanKoeveringe (WIP) 214

Seven Oaks:


Sturgeon Creek:

  • Iva Yeo (L) 4833
  • (x)Frank Johnston (PC) 4174
  • Len Sawatsky (NDP) 903
  • Hugh Buskell (CoR) 158
  • Nigel Hanrahan (Comm) 27

Swan River:

The Pas:

  • (x)Harry Harapiak (NDP) 3221
  • Bruce Unfried (PC) 1584
  • Scott Gray (L) 1426


  • (x)Steve Ashton (NDP) 2992
  • Ken Collin (PC) 1989
  • Janice Pronteau (L) 1240


Turtle Mountain:

  • (x)Denis Rocan (PC) 3208
  • Ross McMillan (L) 2610
  • Rod Stephenson (Ind) 767
  • Harold Parsonage (CoR) 476
  • John Miller (NDP) 446
  • Bill Harrison (Ind) 102
  • William Comer (WIP) 87


  • (x)Gary Filmon (PC) 6427
  • Jasper McKee (L) 6303
  • Catherine Hofman (NDP) 714
  • R. EisBrenner (WIP) 149


  • (x)Glen Findlay (PC) 4459
  • Bill Davison (L) 2043
  • Louise Leask (NDP) 967
  • Alex Gabrielle (CoR) 588
  • Terry Drul (WIP) 160


post-election changes:

Gilles Roch (PC) becomes (L) on September 8, 1988.

Preceded by:
1986 Manitoba election

List of Manitoba general elections

Followed by:
1990 Manitoba election

  Results from FactBites:
Manitoba - Search View - MSN Encarta (7173 words)
Manitoba is lower in elevation than areas to the east, west, and south, and serves as a drainage basin for several major rivers.
Manitoba is represented in the Canadian Parliament by 14 elected representatives in the House of Commons and by six senators who are appointed by the federal government.
In 1957 the electoral districts of Manitoba were redrawn to reflect the population shift from rural to urban areas, particularly to the city of Winnipeg and towns in the south, and also to the northern mining communities.
elections in Canada: Information from Answers.com (2529 words)
It is also possible for a general election to be delayed should Canada be embroiled in a war or insurrection.
Elections are generally held in either the fall or spring.
The most recent instance of this was the 1988 election, which was considered by most parties to be a referendum on free trade with the United States.
  More results at FactBites »



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