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Manitoba premier wants daily legislative prayer to be more inclusive

April 11, 2024

Wab Kinew tells faith leaders he questions whether prayer ‘is representative and inclusive of all of us’

A man in a blue suit stands at a podium.
Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew told a breakfast gathering of faith leaders he wants to refresh the legislative prayer to be more reflective of the increasingly diverse province. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

CBC News: Manitoba’s premier wants to change the prayer that’s recited in the legislature to make it more inclusive of people who practise faiths other than Christianity, and those who hold no faith at all.

Wab Kinew told a breakfast gathering of religious leaders that while the prayer has no overtly Christian references, it still feels like a Christian prayer. It has references to God, uses archaic English, and ends with “amen.”

“I would ask, especially looking around the room here this morning at the people, the good Manitobans who’ve come together, whether that prayer is representative and inclusive of all of us here today,” he said at the Thursday morning multifaith gathering.

While expressing a “deep reverence for Christianity,” Kinew invited faith leaders and other Manitobans to rethink the words of the prayer, which the Speaker of the House recites at the start of every session at the Manitoba Legislature.

However, he insists the prayer itself still has a place in the legislature.

He called it an important moment of reflection, during which legislators can put the greater good ahead of their partisan interests.

This is the Manitoba Legislature’s daily prayer

WATCH | Hear the daily prayer read at the legislature:

21 hours ago, Duration 0:29

House Speaker Tom Lindsey reads the prayer that begins every session at the Manitoba Legislature. Premier Wab Kinew says he wants the prayer updated to be more inclusive, but all-party support is required.

Click on the following link to view the video:

The current prayer was adopted in 1937. Since then, its wording has only had minor changes.

After the breakfast, Kinew said in an interview that House Speaker Tom Lindsey proposed a refresh of the prayer. The premier said he supports the call.

Support from other parties needed

Any change to the prayer, however, will require the consensus of other parties. The decision will be left to the legislature’s rules committee, which is chaired by the Speaker, and includes the NDP and Progressive Conservative House leaders, as well as the legislature’s only Liberal member. 

The Tories wouldn’t reveal where they stand on a revised prayer, but stressed a non-partisan process is needed for any changes.

“It is not a decision for the NDP premier or his government to make unilaterally,” PC House leader Derek Johnson said in a statement.

Kinew began his Thursday morning address to faith leaders by referring to two prayers he said he hears often.

He said before he starts his day, he uses sweetgrass or sage and prays in the Anishinaabe tradition.

The prayer always ends by acknowledging the Creator, “and this is really fundamental to the Anishinaabe worldview — we’re told the Creator asked us to acknowledge the Creator last,” he said.

The second prayer is the one recited by the Speaker at the legislature, which begins with reference to an “eternal and almighty God.”

“Without making any sort of value judgments [between the prayers,] you can see there’s a difference,” Kinew said. 

“There’s different ways for us to pray.”

Daily prayer at Manitoba’s seat of power could be changed

WATCH | Premier Wab Kinew speaks to faith leaders on Thursday:

18 hours ago, Duration 2:32

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew said the prayer that starts every legislative session should be more reflective of the diverse peoples that make up the province. 

Click on the following link to view the video:

A refresh of the legislature’s prayer could be an opportunity for Manitoba to rise to the challenge of becoming more inclusive, Kinew said.

“Time and time again, our collective society, through ups and downs, through many rocky and difficult situations calling on us to advance the project of reconciliation, we have shown fit to let our democratic institutions evolve,” he said.

One recent example was the legislature renovating the chamber to be more accessible for Steven Fletcher, Manitoba’s first quadriplegic MLA, Kinew said.

‘Worth trying,’ but consensus may be challenge: imam

Labeed Ahmed, an imam in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Winnipeg chapter, said he’s happy to hear the province wants to make the prayer more inclusive.

However, he expects finding consensus will be tough.

With a prayer, “traditionally they would acknowledge a deity, and at that point I feel like that’s not agreeable to certain people who are part of the fabric of Manitoba,” he said.

However, “it’s worth trying,” he said. “Let’s see.”

Paul Johnson, a minister at St. John’s Cathedral in Winnipeg, said he’s sure some Christians will perceive the possible change as an insult to their religion.

“I think that’s sad. I think Jesus himself did not ask people for ID, or limit his interaction with people. He was just with them,” he said.

“We’re all together on this journey, so I don’t think it’s an insult to Christianity at all.”

Making the prayer inclusive may be challenging due to Manitoba’s richly diverse population, Johnson said, but he thinks it can be done.

The full text of the daily prayer:

“O Eternal and Almighty God, from whom all power and wisdom come, we are assembled here before Thee to frame such laws as may tend to the welfare and prosperity of our province.

Grant O merciful God we pray Thee, that we may desire only that which is in accordance with Thy will, that we may seek it with wisdom and know it with certainty and accomplish it perfectly.

For the glory and honour of Thy name and for the welfare of all our people. Amen.”


Ian Froese, Provincial Affairs Reporter

Ian Froese covers provincial politics and its impact for CBC Manitoba. You can reach him at