In a recent political shift, Manitoba saw the New Democratic Party (NDP) emerge victorious, securing a majority government.
At the center of this development, David Pankratz, a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) from Winnipeg Local 867, won his seat in the Waverley riding of the province.
His triumph was against a Progressive Conservative incumbent, a former cabinet minister.
David Pankratz will now serve under Wab Kinew, poised to make history as Canada’s first First Nations provincial premier.
Pankratz’s election margin was narrow but remained outside the scope for a recount.
The official certification is anticipated by Elections Manitoba.
This electoral win for the NDP, a traditional ally of labor, hints at positive prospects for the province’s five IAFF locals, representing 1,842 members.
This victory ends the seven-year Progressive Conservative reign, which had faced scrutiny for its stance on labor rights and handling of healthcare, among other concerns.
Tom Bilous, Winnipeg Local 867 President, conveyed his gratitude to the Executive Board and campaign volunteers in a message to his members.
He recognized Pankratz for his commitment: “We look forward to a continued excellent relationship… UFFW will always be there to support you.”
The recent election also forecasts improvements in public safety.
The NDP has committed to funding 40 new firefighter roles to man a new fire station in the rapidly developing Waverley West neighborhood, an initiative that Local 867 has advocated for over the past 15 years.
Edward Kelly, General President, shared his enthusiasm: “This is a great day for our Manitoba affiliates.
“Congratulations to Premier-elect Kinew, MLA-elect Pankratz, and all of our Manitoba leaders and members.”
Fred LeBlanc, IAFF 13th District Vice President, who actively campaigned with Pankratz, echoed these sentiments.
He lauded the efforts of Winnipeg Local 867, emphasizing their commitment to adding 40 new firefighters to the Winnipeg Fire Department.
Alex Forrest, Manitoba Professional Fire Fighters Association President, expressed his pride in the contributions of Winnipeg Local 867 and Brandon Local 803 during the election phase.
He mentioned the election’s potential positive impact on health, safety, and worker benefits.
This isn’t the first time an IAFF member has served in the Manitoba legislature.
From 1999 to 2007, Scott Smith, a member from Brandon Local 803, held a seat and even served as a cabinet member under NDP Premier Gary Doer.
The rise of David Pankratz in the Manitoba legislature marks a significant milestone for the fire and safety community.
This election not only showcases the growing influence of IAFF members in political realms but also sheds light on their potential to bring about change that resonates deeply with their profession’s core values.