Brace yourself for the great ‘Stefansmear’ campaign of 2023

September 1, 2023

Stefanson hopes to scare you into voting for broken Conservative promises

By Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress as published in National Newswatch

Over the next four weeks, Conservatives will spare no expense to try to scare the wits out of you. Their campaign strategy is, in a nutshell, hoping they can panic you into voting for them yet again.

Indeed, my fellow Manitobans, brace yourself for the great ‘Stefansmear’ campaign of 2023.

You will hear false claims about taxes and crime, and dishonest attacks on Wab Kinew’s character. Anything and everything they can think of to keep you from remembering the 7 long years of Conservative broken promises.

But we remember. For over seven years we’ve watched while Brian Pallister, Heather Stefanson, and the whole Conservative gang let us down. Their lack of care and compassion for working people is stunning. Time and again they’ve displayed an almost criminal level of neglect.

Let’s not forget how Conservatives promised action on affordability – but then raised hydro bills. Now they are planning to ding Manitoba families with ‘surge’ energy pricing. Which is government-speak for making you pay more for energy, just when you need it most.

Remember how Conservatives promised a constructive relationship with workers? Then they imposed contracts with lower pay, attacked workers’ rights, cut apprenticeships, and rolled back worker safety.

Who can forget how Conservatives promised 200 more nurses, 80 more paramedics and more personal care home beds? In government, Conservatives then delivered 300 fewer nurses, 87 fewer paramedics and 149 fewer personal care beds.

But look, broken promises aren’t about the numbers, it’s about all the people getting hurt by Conservative policies. If your pay is falling so far behind inflation you can’t make rent, or if you’re waiting for your child to get care in an Emergency Room, or if you’re waiting in vain for a personal care bed for your elderly relative, you’re another Manitoban who’s paying the price for these heartless Conservative policies.

Conservatives try to scare people into thinking you must choose between the fair treatment of workers and a strong economy. Ms. Stefanson has demonized unions. Hypocritically, she attacks workers fighting for fair wages while she gave herself a raise.

The reality is, making workers poorer may make billionaires richer, but it doesn’t help to build thriving communities. No, it’s workers who build and power our economy. This is why I was delighted to see Wab Kinew’s New Democrats already making a commitment to reverse Conservative cuts to training, restore the 1-to-1 apprentice ratio to improve worker safety, and ensure local communities benefit from major projects. Kinew’s plan will put more Manitobans to work and create good, sustainable jobs.

In contrast, for over 7 years we’ve watched as Ms. Stefanson steadily failed her way upwards through the Manitoba government. She was Brian Pallister’s Deputy Premier, his justice minister while crime got worse, his health minister while Conservatives closed three Emergency Rooms in Winnipeg. Despite this, bizarrely, Conservatives gave her a promotion. As premier, she’s cut education, raised energy costs, and failed to fix the health crisis she helped create. Now Ms. Stefanson wants to be rewarded for doing a bad job. It’s time for a change.

I know Wab Kinew, and I know how deeply he cares about how tough things have gotten for working people. He knows what it means to worry about whether care will be there for your kids. He’s been through trial by fire and has the strength of character to stand up to powerful interests. That’s why I trust him to put help for people and good jobs at the centre of his government.

As we mark Labour Day in Manitoba this year, I urge workers and families to see past the latest Conservative promises and their scaremongering rhetoric to take a close look at what they actually delivered over the past 8 years in government. Look at how Conservative policies have made life more expensive for families and hurt workers, then ask yourself: Who cares about people getting good jobs, with fair pay, for an honest day’s work? Who can I trust to help families as their budgets are stretched to the breaking point? Who will make sure public health care is there, not only for my family, but for generations of Manitobans to come?

In 2023, only the NDP are offering this kind of positive change.

Bea Bruske is President of the Canadian Labour Congress. Follow her on Twitter @PresidentCLC

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