Skip to main content

Politics Conservatives bleeding votes to Liberals in Winnipeg: polls

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, alongside Manitoba Liberal candidates, talks to reporters in Winnipeg, Thursday, July 23, 2015. Polls suggest the Liberals are gaining ground in Manitoba's capital.

Steve Lambert/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Winnipeg appears to be an anomaly of sorts for the Oct. 19 federal election, with the Liberals gaining ground and ahead of the NDP.

While polls suggest the NDP is benefiting from falling Conservative support in most of the country, the Liberals appear to be scooping up former Tory voters in the Manitoba capital.

Observers suggest the NDP brand has been badly damaged in Manitoba by the provincial NDP government and its moves to raise taxes, run up deficits and still leave long waiting lists for health care. This comes on top of a failed revolt by senior cabinet ministers, who demanded the resignation of Premier Greg Selinger.

Story continues below advertisement

"I think it's true that if it hadn't been for the [provincial] NDP troubles, the upswing in [federal] NDP support might have been stronger, so it's blunted that momentum they've had nationally," said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Manitoba.

The Conservatives have a lot to lose after they surprised many in 2011 by winning six of the eight seats in the city. They narrowly took a NDP bastion in Elmwood-Transcona, a riding that had voted orange since its creation in 1988. They also won in Winnipeg South-Centre, which was once considered the safest Liberal seat in the West under Lloyd Axworthy and Anita Neville. The Conservatives also saw Shelly Glover easily re-elected in St. Boniface, after she first took the long-time Liberal riding in 2008.

Polls have suggested that Conservative votes are bleeding to the Liberals.

"I think that people are a little more hesitant right now to say they're supporting the NDP here in Manitoba," said Jeff Kovalik-Plouffe, campaign manager for Jim Carr, Liberal candidate in Winnipeg South-Centre.

That is one of the ridings that could change hands on election night.

Carr is a former member of the provincial legislature and, until recently, president of the Business Council of Manitoba. He faces incumbent Conservative Joyce Bateman, a backbencher known for her constituency work who eked out a victory last time by 722 votes.

Bateman dropped a pre-election goodie just before the current campaign began, announcing money to help replace a level train crossing that ties up traffic on a major thoroughfare for many of her constituents. The crossing will be replaced with an underpass.

Story continues below advertisement

"This has been important for a long time. I got it done," she said in July, when she announced $46-million for the project.

Bateman also has some ammunition against Carr. He advocated for a provincial sales tax increase a few years before the NDP government imposed one in 2013, to the anger of many.

The NDP have never performed strongly in Winnipeg South-Centre, but are hoping for better results under candidate Matt Henderson, a popular teacher.

Another potential seat change is shaping up in Elmwood-Transcona. The working-class seat was long held by veteran New Democrat Bill Blaikie. His son, Daniel Blaikie, wants to recapture the riding that Conservative Lawrence Toet won by just 300 votes in 2011.

The younger Blaikie said he's not too concerned about the effect of the provincial NDP's unpopularity.

"It is something I was wondering about, but what I've found on the doorstep is that people know very well who Stephen Harper is, they want change in Ottawa."

Story continues below advertisement

Toet is running again, while the Liberals are putting up Andrea Richardson-Lipon, an audiologist.

One hurdle facing the Conservatives this time around is the loss of some high-profile incumbents. Rod Bruinooge has left Winnipeg South, to be replaced by Gordon Giesbrecht, a popular academic known as "Professor Popsicle" for his studies into cold-weather survival.

Joy Smith is not seeking re-election in Kildonan-St. Paul.

Shelly Glover, the Conservative senior cabinet minister from Manitoba, is leaving politics after twice winning in the St. Boniface riding, now renamed St. Boniface-St. Vital. Businessman Francois Catellier has the Tory nomination.

The Liberals have put up Dan Vandal, a former city councillor who is well-known in the area's large francophone community, while Erin Selby, a member of the legislature since 2007, carries the NDP flag.

Thomas said losing incumbents can affect a party's chances, but local candidates and issues can be overshadowed.

Story continues below advertisement

"Often it's very difficult for local factors to trump bigger trends taking place nationally," he said.

***

Things to know about Manitoba's Winnipeg South-Centre riding:

Worth watching: This riding was a longtime Liberal bastion — it was held by Lloyd Axworthy when there were only two Liberals west of Ontario in the 1980s — but was taken by Conservative Joyce Bateman in 2011. Shortly before the campaign began, Bateman announced funding to remove a major local irritant and replace a level train crossing with an underpass.

Population: 87,176, mostly well-to-do suburbanites along with some younger urbanites in areas closest to downtown Winnipeg.

Incumbent: Backbencher Bateman, who won by just over 700 votes in 2011.

Story continues below advertisement

Main challengers: Liberal Jim Carr, is former head of the Business Council of Manitoba. New Democrat Matt Henderson, is a popular high school teacher who won the Governor General's award for excellence in teaching.

Election History: The riding was held for more than 20 years by Liberals Lloyd Axworthy and Anita Neville. It was long considered the safest Liberal seat in the West, until Bateman won.

Fun Fact: The riding is home to Winnipeg's Confusion Corner, a bustling intersection of three major routes where odd angles and divided one-way sections can baffle motorists.

***

Things to know about Manitoba's St. Boniface-St. Vital riding:

Worth watching: The riding, formerly St. Boniface, is hotly contested and expected to be a close call on Oct. 19. Traditionally Liberal and home to the largest francophone population in Western Canada, the seat was won by Conservative Shelly Glover in 2008 and 2011. The riding has expanded to include largely anglophone suburbs. Glover is not seeking re-election and is returning to her job as a police officer.

Story continues below advertisement

Population: 87,364, 13 per cent with French as a mother tongue.

Incumbent: Glover is not running.

Main challengers: Liberal Dan Vandal is a former city councillor. Conservative François Catellier is president of a management consulting firm. New Democrat Erin Selby has been a member of the provincial legislature since 2007.

Election history: The seat voted Liberal in almost every election from its creation in 1925 until 2008, when Glover won easily. She took more than half the votes in 2011.

Fun Fact: The northern part of the riding is the heart of French-speaking Western Canada. Métis leader Louis Riel is buried outside the St. Boniface Cathedral, across the Red River from downtown Winnipeg.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter