Learn About Elections
- What is a general election?
- When does a provincial election happen?
- What is the difference between a provincial election, a federal election, and a municipal election?
- What is the difference between a prospective candidate, an official candidate, an incumbent candidate, and an MLA?
- How do I find out what the candidates stand for?
- What is a constituency / electoral division?
- How are constituency boundaries created?
- Who administers the election?
- Why is the electoral system set up the way it is?
- Where can I learn more about Manitoba elections?
- How do I vote?
- What if I will be unable to come out and vote on Election Day?
- How can I get involved in an election campaign?
- How does somebody become a candidate?
- What do political parties do?
- Do I have to vote for a political party?
- How is a party leader different from other candidates?
- What happens after a political party wins?
- What happens to the political parties that lose?
- How does somebody become a member of a political party?
- How does somebody become the leader of a political party?
- What is an MLA?
- Who was my MLA prior to the election?
- What does an MLA do?
- How do I find out what my MLA did prior to the election?
- What are the different roles that an MLA may have?
- How do MLAs create laws?
- What is a Caucus?
- What is the House?
- What areas of governance fall under the Manitoba government?
- What is a ministry?
- What is Session?
- In what way does an election change the Government?
- What is the difference between a Majority and a Minority Government?
- What is the Official Opposition?
- What does the Premier do?
- How does a person become a Premier?
- What is a Cabinet Minister?
A general election in Manitoba is an election in which every electoral division in the province holds an election. It’s a chance for citizens in every part of the province to vote for one person to represent their geographic area. Candidates usually represent a political party. In each electoral division, the candidate with the highest number of votes becomes an MLA. Generally, the political party with the most MLAs forms Government.
A general election is different from a by-election, which is an election for a smaller number of electoral divisions. A by-election could happen after an MLA resigns or dies while in office.
The Elections Act dictates when an election is to happen. A general provincial election is scheduled to take place in Manitoba on the first Tuesday in October, four years after the previous general election. If a federal election period is scheduled (prior to the provincial election year) to overlap with the provincial election, then the provincial election is postponed to the third Tuesday in April the following year.
An election may also be called by the Lieutenant` Governor (provincial representative of the Queen) – Section 49.1(1). If the majority of the MLAs do not support the government budget, certain proposed laws, or the plans announced during the annual ‘Speech from the Throne’, then the government ‘loses the confidence’ of the Legislative Assembly. At this point the Lieutenant Governor can either choose to call an election or to have somebody else become Premier and form a government that ‘has the confidence’ of the Legislative Assembly. The Lieutenant Governor may also call an election upon his or her discretion (Section 49.1(1)).
In 2019 the election date was set using Section 49.1(1) of The Election Act, when the Premier approached the Lieutenant Goverenor to call an election. The next scheduled provincial election after September 10, 2019 will be scheduled for Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023, unless the next election is called earlier by the Lieutenant Governor, or is postponed due to an overlap with a federal election.
Source: The Elections Act (section 49)
Provincial Election: A general election is held for each geographic area of Manitoba in order to elect Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). These members create and vote on laws that fall under provincial jurisdiction in the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg.
Federal Election: A general election is held for each geographic area of Canada, including within Manitoba, in order to elect Members of Parliament (MPs). These members create and vote on laws that fall under federal jurisdiction in parliament in Ottawa.
Canada’s constitution is the document that outlines what areas of law the provinces and federal government have the power to create. For instance, an MLA may create laws relating to how education is delivered, but an MP may not. Similarly an MP may create laws relating to what is in the Criminal Code, but an MLA may not.
One area that falls under provincial jurisdiction is that of municipalities, such as towns, cities, and rural municipalities. The provinces determine the rules under which a municipality is to be governed through creating laws such as ‘The Municipal Act’ and ‘The Municipal Councils and School Boards Election Act’.
Municipal Election: A general election is held for each geographic area within an urban municipality (city or town) or rural municipality, in order to elect members of Council (Councillors) and mayors (urban) or reeves (rural). These members create and vote on bylaws that fall under the jurisdiction granted to them under the province. Specific spheres of jurisdiction are available under the Municipal Act and the City of Winnipeg Charter.
Source: The Manitoba Act, 1870
A prospective candidate is somebody who nominates themselves as an independent candidate, or is nominated as a candidate by a political party. Each candidate is nominated for one electoral division.
An official candidate is a prospective candidate who submits their nomination papers, which include 100 signatures from qualified voters within the electoral division. The papers must be submitted after the beginning of the election period and before the deadline at 1PM on August 26, 2019. Official candidates are those you will have the choice of selecting when you vote. All prospective candidates who did not become official candidates, or who have since withdrawn from the election, have been removed from our website.
An incumbent candidate is a candidate who, prior to the beginning of the election period, was the MLA for the electoral division in which they are currently a candidate. The most recent MLA for each electoral division is listed on the page descriptions below the candidate cards.
An MLA, or Member of the Legislative Assembly, is the official candidate who receives the highest number of votes, which are counted on Election Day. Only one MLA may be elected in any electoral division.
Determining who is a good candidate is a judgment call that you get to make as a voter. You can make this decision in whatever way you choose. Our website provides you with several ways to contact your candidates so that you may ask him or her your questions. You may also view all recent news articles relevant to each candidate on the candidate page by clicking on a candidate’s name.
During the election period, we will provide all candidates with the following questions and we will permit candidates to post and change responses at their convenience:
- Why did you decide to run in the 2019 Manitoba election?
- Why should a voter consider electing you to represent them?
- Is there anything in particular you would like to change in our province? In your electoral division?
- What key issue(s) / topic(s) will you stand for in your role as MLA, and why are these important to you?
- Do you have any other comments regarding your candidacy?
You may also review the information candidates provide about themselves on their website, Facebook page, or through their Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube accounts. Most candidate webpages have a short bio that allows you to learn a little bit about their background.
A constituency is another name for an electoral division, which is a geographic area in which the people are represented by an elected MLA. There are 57 constituencies in Manitoba, covering all areas of the province. The candidate who wins your electoral division during an election will hold one of the 57 ‘seats’ in the Manitoba Legislature.
You can view your candidates by selecting the map of your constituency on our home page. If you do not know what constituency you reside in, you can find out from Elections Manitoba by entering your address here.
Source: Maps – Elections Manitoba
The electoral division boundaries are drawn and named by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which was created in 1955 under Manitoba’s Electoral Divisions Act. This is an independent provincial commission responsible for updating the boundaries every ten years to respond to changes in the population across the province. Elections Manitoba provides the commission with research and administrative support. The proposed boundaries were changed in 2018 based on 2016 Census data. These changes apply to the 2019 provincial election. The full detailed report is available here. More information about the commission is available at the Manitoba Boundaries Commission website.
Source: Elections Manitoba – About
The provincial elections are run under the Elections Act, which mandates that a Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) be appointed to run the provincial elections. This person oversees the office called ‘Elections Manitoba’. The CEO is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, with recommendations from the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs, which has several MLAs from multiple political parties. The CEO must administer the elections “impartially and in compliance with this Act” (Section 27 of the Elections Act). He or she appoints a commissioner, who ensures the act is followed and enforced. More information, including the Mission and Goals of Elections Manitoba, are available on the Elections Manitoba website.
Source: Elections Manitoba – About
The Constitution mandates that Canada have federal and provincial elections in which every Canadian citizen can vote, and where no government can stay in power for more than five years without having an election unless there is a “war, invasion, or insurrection” (Constitution Act 1982 Section 4). It also grants the provinces the power to create additional laws to oversee the elections, which is how The Elections Act was created in Manitoba. All provincial Acts are created through several stages and much discussion with opportunity for input from all MLAs. Acts are passed only with the support from the majority of MLAs.
Source: The Manitoba Act, 1870
Elections Manitoba is the official authority on Manitoba provincial elections and is an excellent resource for election information. You can visit their website here or contact them at 204-945-3225 or 1-866-628-6837.
Source: Elections Manitoba
You can vote at a voting station operated by Elections Manitoba as long as you are a Canadian citizen, over the age of 18, and have lived in Manitoba for at least six months before the election.
You can vote on Tuesday September 10th (Election Day) between 8 AM and 8 PM by going to your local voting station. You can find your local voting station at Elections Manitoba by following this link and entering your address.
You may also vote in advance of election day, between August 29th and September 5th. Details on voting before election day, called advance voting, can be found here.
If your name is not on the voters list on Election Day, or you are voting in advance, you must bring “government issued photo ID” or “two documents that include your name” (Elections Manitoba). More details about voting ID requirements are available here.
You will have the choice of voting for one registered candidate in your electoral division. Elections Manitoba provides a quick easy overview of the voting process here.
Election officers will be able to help you with further questions at the voting station. For any other questions about voting you can contact Elections Manitoba at 204-945-3225 or toll-free at 1-866-628-6837 or visit electionsmanitoba.ca.
Elections Manitoba provides many options for voters who will have difficulty voting on Election Day. Some of this information is available under Advance Voting, Accessibility Services and Options, and Absentee Voting.
How can I participate in an election campaign?
You can participate in an election campaign by contacting a candidate or a political party. Most candidates seek volunteers, sign locations, and financial contributions in order to promote their candidacy.
A person must be a Canadian citizen over the age of 18 who has lived in Manitoba for at least six months in order to be eligible to become a candidate. Elections Manitoba outlines various other requirements, including the need to gather at least 100 signatures from residents within the electoral division. Prospective candidates had until 1:00 pm on March 29th to submit all requirements to Elections Manitoba to become an official candidate for the 2016 Provincial Election.
Political Party Basics
A political party is a group of voters who may have similar views about how our society should be organized and what governments should do. They form a political organization that can endorse and support candidates to bring the voice and ideas of its members into government. Political parties can ensure that candidates support similar views as those of the party, and once elected they can maintain some level of party discipline – ensuring members vote as a group. A political party can also pool resources and have a greater ability to finance operations and initiatives.
Every political party in Manitoba has one leader. The leader of the political party that wins the most seats (electoral divisions) generally becomes the premier. Each political party registers with Elections Manitoba, has a headquarters, has a chief financial officer, and must follow regulations set out for leadership contests, for nominating candidates, fundraising, spending, and for financial reporting among other things. All political parties in Manitoba have members who have member rights, such as the ability to participate in the party’s direction, leadership contest, and various other gatherings.
Seven political parties are currently registered with Elections Manitoba. The listing is available here.
Your vote is for a candidate who may be a member of a political party, or who may be independent. Your option for who to vote for depends on which candidates have registered in your electoral division. Not all electoral divisions have independent candidates, and not all political parties have candidates in every electoral division.
Like other candidates, a political party leader will need to win the majority of the votes in his or her electoral division in order to become an MLA. This candidate usually becomes the premier if the party’s candidates win more seats (electoral divisions) than any other party. Because the leader may potentially become the next premier, the media may give party leaders much greater publicity than that of other candidates.
A political party that receives more than 50% of the seats (electoral divisions) is asked by the Lieutenant Governor to have its leader become the Premier and form government. This is a Majority Government because the the majority of MLAs (and votes) in the legislature are held by a single political party.
If all parties win fewer than 50% of the seats, the party leader that is most likely to keep the confidence of the MLAs is asked by the Lieutenant Governor to be Premier. This is usually, but not always, the political party that has more seats than any other.
The Premier selects a group of MLAs to become Cabinet Ministers who oversee the daily activities of the ministries and propose new laws. The Premier and the Cabinet Ministers are called Cabinet (also called Executive Council). They oversee the Executive Level, or daily operations of running the government.
The political party whose candidates win the second highest number of seats (electoral divisions) is the Official Opposition. Its role is to question the government’s actions and policies and to offer alternatives. Parties that receive fewer seats become Opposition Parties. Opposition members may work together in questioning the government, voting on Bills (proposed laws), and presenting alternatives among other things.
Majority Government – If a political party has more than half of the total number of MLAs, that party may pass any Bill (proposed law) into a law, so long as all of its MLAs vote together and are in attendance during votes. All Government Bills, which are those proposed by Cabinet Ministers and the Premier may also be passed into law in the same manner.
Minority Government – If a political party has half or fewer than half of the total number of MLAs, that party may not pass any Bill into law if enough opposition MLAs, as a group, choose to not support that Bill. If there are more than two political parties, a minority government is possible.
If the majority of the MLAs do not support the government budget, certain proposed laws, or the plans announced during what is called ‘The Speech from the Throne’, then the government ‘loses the confidence of the Assembly’. At this point the government is ‘dissolved’ by the Lieutenant Governor (representative of the Queen). This means the premier and cabinet are replaced by a government that has the confidence of the Assembly, generally through an election. During a minority government, the government must work to ensure a high enough number of opposition MLAs support these Bills if it wishes to avoid having government ‘dissolved’ by the Lieutenant Governor.
Every registered political party in Manitoba has instructions for joining on its website. You can contact a political party headquarters with any questions. Their contact information is available by click on a party logo on our home page.
Members of political parties are able to have an input in policy direction, nomination of party candidates in electoral divisions, and in party leadership conventions.
A leader of a political party is generally selected through a Leadership Contest within that party. This process may differ between political parties, allowing party members to have a direct or indirect influence. Leadership contestants may be voted on within the party to become leader. A political party may hold a leadership convention to elect its leader by party members.
An MLA is a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly is the group of 57 people elected to create and vote on laws that govern Manitoba. Each MLA represents the residents of a geographic area within Manitoba, called an electoral division or a constituency. All the land within Manitoba is within the boundaries of a provincial electoral division.
Up until the 2019 Election Period began, your MLA was either 1) the candidate who won the 2016 election in your electoral division, 2) in the case of a more recent by-election, the candidate who won that by-election, 3) or no MLA if the seat was vacated prior to the election. Once the election was called, all MLAs were no longer MLAs, and those running for re-election went through the process to become candidates once again. They are known as incumbent candidates. On each electoral division page, our website identifies the most recent MLA in the electoral division description at the bottom of the page, under the candidates.
Once new MLAs are sworn in, Elections Manitoba allows you to find our current MLA here.
An MLA has several roles including proposing laws in Manitoba through what are called Bills, discussing Bills proposed by other MLAs, and voting on these Bills. MLAs also solve problems and voice concerns on behalf of residents in their electoral division, and may work with other MLAs on policy and strategy. MLAs may also serve on committees, which review the contents of proposed laws, and hear from experts and members of the public about these laws.
MLAs may also be appointed by the party’s leader to take on a specific role in relation to a provincial ministry. More information is available under What are the different roles that an MLA may have?
You can learn about your MLA on his or her website. Many things your MLA has done may not be on public record. If your MLA is running for re-election, you may contact him or her through the contact information provided on our website.
You may also read what your MLA has debated in the Manitoba Legislature in Hansard, which is the record of what was said during all debates. Online Hansard records go back to 1958 and are available on the Legislative Assembly website here.
You can also find out what Bills (proposed laws) your MLA has introduced here. The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba website provides a ‘status of bills’ document for each session of lawmaking as far back as 1999. This includes the name of the member who introduced the bill, the title of the bill, and its current status, among other things.
An MLA can be a Backbencher, a House Leader, a Party Whip, a Party Leader, an Opposition Leader, an Opposition Critic, a Cabinet Minister, a Premier, or The Speaker of the House.
Backbenchers are MLAs who are not party leaders or Cabinet Ministers. A backbencher can be a Government Backbencher if they are of the same party as that of the Government, or an Opposition Backbencher if they are of another party.
House Leader – All the members of each political party appoint one of their MLAs to be responsible for coordinating how their political party should proceed when they gather with all 57 MLAs during the Session period, which includes law-making, questions to ministers, and debates among other things. This MLA is called the House Leader.
The Party Whip – The Whip is the MLA within each party who is appointed with the task of ensuring that MLAs of their political party are informed of issues and attend House sessions, especially during a vote.
The Party Leader – The Party Leader sets out the general direction of the party. The Premier and Leader of the Official Opposition are both party leaders.
Opposition Leader – The Official Opposition is the party that wins the second highest number of seats. The Opposition Leader or ‘Leader of the Official Opposition’ is the leader of that political party.
Opposition Critics are opposition MLAs appointed by the opposition leader to closely watch and critique a specific ministry or set of ministries. The group of opposition members who are chosen to watch and critique specific ministries are often referred to as the ‘shadow cabinet’.
Cabinet Ministers are MLAs appointed by the Premier to oversee the day-to-day activities of government ministries and to propose new laws.
The Premier is the party leader of the political party that wins the highest number of seats (electoral divisions) during an election. After winning an election this leader is asked to become the premier by the lieutenant governor (representative of the queen).
The Speaker of the House is an MLA who is elected by secret ballot from all other MLAs to preserve order and enforce the “Rules of the House” during Session, which is the time when all MLAs gather to create laws, question the ministers, and engage in debates, among other things.
MLAs have the ability to create new laws for the province. All laws they have sponsored are on public record.
When a law is first proposed by an MLA, it is called a Bill, which has to go through several stages to become a law. Once the law is passed it is called an Act (also known as a statute). All the current Acts in Manitoba are viewable here. These are the laws that govern the province.
Cabinet Ministers can propose Government Bills, while individual MLAs can propose Private Bill. Cabinet Ministers can also create regulations under the ministries they direct, in addition to Government Bills.
All of the bills since 1999 are available for viewing on the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba website here. The bills are organized by which session of the legislature the Bills were proposed under. The sessions are the periods in which the MLAs get together to create law. At the top of the page of whichever session you choose, you can click on ‘Status of Bills’ to see which MLA sponsored each Bill.
The stages in passing a Bill into law are the following:
1. Notice – The intent to introduce the bill must be appear in the Notice Paper one day prior to introduction.
2. First Reading – The MLA reads the title of the bill and may give a brief explanation. The MLAs then decide whether or not to allow this bill to proceed further.
3. Second Reading – The bill gets discussed among the MLAs. The proposed Bill either gets approved in principal or rejected.
4. Committee Stage – The Bill gets referred to a committee that has MLAs from the governing party and the opposition party or parties. These MLAs receive advice from experts and from members of the public during public hearings. The committee can then propose amendments to the Bill.
5. Report Stage – The Bill gets reported and discussed by all of the MLAs again. The MLAs may suggest further changes.
6. Third Reading – MLAs may suggest further changes and debate the final Bill. They can apply to have it postponed for six months, send it back to the committee, or hold a final vote on whether to pass it into law.
7. Royal Assent – Before a Bill becomes law, it must receive approval from the Lieutenant Governor, the representative of the Queen, through what is called ‘Royal Assent’.
The caucus is the group of MLAs from any one political party. The political party’s members together are called the party’s caucus.
The House is the group of all MLAs from all political parties during Session, the period during which all MLAs gather to create laws, question the ministers, and engage in debates among other things.
The Constitution Act of 1867 grants Canadian provinces the right to govern over such areas as hospitals, charities, municipalities, shops and bars, incorporation of local businesses, local infrastructure and transportation channels, marriage, property and civil rights, natural resources and electricity, education, and other laws deemed to be of a “local or private nature”. This is not a full list and does not include various areas that have arisen from new technologies or other such changes since 1867. Also, the Constitution Act of 1982 set out individual freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that cannot be taken away by any level of government.
Below is a list of current departments under the Manitoba government.
- Civil Service Commission
- Crown Services
- Education and Training
- Growth, Enterprise and Trade
- Health, Seniors and Active Living
- Indigenous and Northern Relations
- Intergovernmental Affairs and International Relations
- Municipal Relations
- Sport, Culture and Heritage
- Sustainable Development/li>
Because the Constitution Act of 1867 grants provinces authority over education and issues deemed to be ‘local’ in nature, Manitoba has the power to pass legislation that creates and mandates school boards and municipalities. Municipal and school board powers, along with their elections, are created through legislation passed by the province.
Manitoba also creates the laws that establish and set up a governance model for various crown corporations, agencies, boards, and commissions. Crown corporations are publicly-owned corporations, which include entities such as Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Public Insurance, and Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation. A list of Manitoba crown corporations and other government initiatives is available here. Manitoba defines agencies, boards, and commissions as “entities established by government to carry out a range of functions and services, and include councils, authorities, advisory bodies, funding bodies, professional organizations and quasi-judicial tribunals” (Agencies, Boards and Commissions, Manitoba). The list of Manitoba government agencies, boards and commissions can be viewed here.
Source: Departments – Manitoba
Source: The Constitution Act, 1982
A ministry in Manitoba is the portfolio under the direction of a Cabinet Minister, which includes departments and other agencies. Cabinet Ministers are appointed by the Premier to be responsible for the daily operations of their ministry, the creation of laws relating to their ministry, and for answering questions relating to their ministry to opposition MLAs during ‘Question Period’.
Source: Departments – Manitoba
A Session in the Legislature is the period of time, at least twice per year, during which all MLAs gather in the legislature and propose new laws, question the Ministers, and engage in debate among other things. A session begins with ‘The Speech from the Throne’, which is a statement on what the government has achieved and plans to do. The government’s budget is also announced during Session through the ‘Budget Speech’. The following activities occur five days per week during Session:
Introduction of Bills – MLAs introduce new proposed laws
Petitions – MLAs read petitions
Committee Reports – An MLA who chairs a committee related to a Bill may report on findings
Tabling of Reports – MLAs present reports and other documents to the House
Ministerial Statements – Cabinet ministers may make a statement or announcement of government policy
Oral Questions – MLAs may ask questions of the Premier and Cabinet Ministers
Members’ Statements – MLAs may make a statement on any manner other than ministerial statements
Grievance – MLAs may speak of a grievance
When an election is called, all MLAs cease to hold their role as MLA. The Premier and Cabinet Ministers have to run for re-election if they wish to become MLAs again. During this period they continue to hold the roles of Premier and Cabinet Minister in order to ensure the daily operations of the government continue to be run.
After the election, the leader of the party with the most seats becomes the Premier. The Premier may appoint Cabinet Minister, which could include members from another party, although this is rare. It is possible that it could be the same set of Cabinet Ministers as that of the previous government, but that is only if the Premier appoints the same group of MLAs.
An election may also change the number of MLAs within each political party. A political party with more MLAs may give that party more votes in passing a Bill into law.
During an election the political parties may each produce a platform of policies and ideas that the party wishes to follow, once it is elected to form a government.
The political party whose candidates win the second highest number of seats (electoral divisions) is the Official Opposition. Its role is to question the government’s actions and policies and to offer alternatives. The Official Opposition’s leader becomes The Leader of the Official Opposition.
During government Session periods the ‘House Rules’ give the Official Opposition preferential status over other opposition parties. Session is the period during which MLAs create laws, opposition members can question the ministers, petitions are read, and other activities occur.
The Leader of the Official Opposition often appoints a ‘shadow cabinet’ of MLAs of his or her party who watch and critique specific ministries of the government and can provide alternative policies and direction.
The Premier is the leader of the provincial government, under the Lieutenant Governor (representative of the Queen) and the person who appoints the Cabinet Ministers (usually MLAs from his or her political party) to run the ministries of the government. The Premier is the senior minister, who provides leadership and direction to the government.
Together, the Premier and the ministers are called Executive Council or Cabinet. This is the group of people who run daily operations of the government. This group puts the government policies into practice and manages the annual budget.
The Premier, along with other party leaders, has some special privileges during Session (the period of law-making, question period, debates, etc), such as extended speaking time during various debates in the legislature. The Premier, along with other Ministers, must answer to the opposition MLAs during the Question Period.
During the election period, all MLAs, including the premier, lose their titles as MLA. However, the premier remains in his or her position as premier in order to oversee the daily operations of government.
A person may become a Premier in several ways. During an election, the leader of the political party that receives more votes than any other party becomes the Premier. If a governing party has a leadership convention, then the new leader of the party becomes Premier, so long as he or she maintains the ‘confidence of the Legislative Assembly’. If the majority of MLAs at any time vote against ‘The Speech from the Throne’, the budget, or other certain proposed laws, then the Premier ‘loses the confidence of the Legislative Assembly’. In this case the lieutenant governor (representative of the Queen) either dissolves government and calls an election, or selects another Premier who will maintain the confidence of the house.
A Cabinet Minister is an MLA who is appointed by the Premier to oversee the daily activities within a ministry of the government and to create new laws. Cabinet Ministers are answerable to opposition MLAs during Question Period for questions that relate to their areas of responsibility. Cabinet Ministers are usually, but not always, of the same political party as that of the Premier.
During the election period, all MLAs, including cabinet ministers, lose their titles as MLA. However, cabinet ministers remain in their position as cabinet ministers in order to oversee the daily operations of government.