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article imageOp-Ed: Liberals gain seats in Winnipeg as part of Liberal election wave

By Ken Hanly     Oct 21, 2015 in Politics
Winnipeg - The Liberal red wave rolled through Manitoba but was stopped at the perimeter highway that circles the city of Winnipeg. The rest of Manitoba remains Tory blue except for one far north riding retained by the New Democratic Party(NDP).
Of the 14 Manitoba ridings the Liberals won seven or half, but all in the city of Winnipeg. The NDP was able to keep its one seat in the far north and take one Winnipeg seat from the Conservatives. The other five seats, all rural, were easily retained by the Conservatives.
Long-serving NDP MP Pat Martin was defeated in Winnipeg Center by Liberal, Robert-Falcon Ouellete. Liberals defeating sitting NDP members was a trend across Canada. The Tory candidate Allie Szarkiewicz came third. The Green Party ran Don Woodstock. The voters also could vote for Communist Party of Manitoba leader Darrell Rankin or Christian Heritage's Scott Miller. Ouellete, who is aboriginal, said: "The goal of this campaign was never, never, never just to win. The goal of this campaign was to see your values reflected in Ottawa, to see your values reflected in our Parliament. There will be challenges in Winnipeg Centre. We should be putting more people back to work, and we can. We should be lifting people out of poverty, and we can."
In defeat Martin told supporters that it had been an honour and privilege to serve his riding for 18 years. He also said the Liberals needed a good group of New Democrats in parliament to make sure they kept to their liberal principles. Otherwise he said they govern just like Tories. There is a common saying that the Liberals campaign to the left but govern to the right. Martin has often had problems with statements he makes that will certainly get him an R rating for his discourse. On social media he called Conservatives "rat-faced whores" and was seen swearing at an opponent at a candidates' meeting.
In Saint-Boniface-Saint Vital, Liberal Dan Vandal, a Metis, won the riding for the Liberals . He said that he was fortunate to be part of something very extraordinary as he arrived for his victory party. The win was a gain from the hapless Conservatives who are now shut out from the city of Winnipeg. Liberal, Jim Carr, who won over a Conservative in Winnipeg South Centre played on the Conservative theme that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was just not ready saying: "The people of Winnipeg South Centre say they're ready, and I'm ready to be your member of Parliament,"
NDP incumbent Niki Ashton was able resist a Liberal challenge by Rebecca Chartrand in the northern riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski who was over a thousand votes behind. In 2011 Ashton had swept the riding with over half the vote.
Although the NDP lost Pat Martin's seat, they gained a seat from the Conservatives in Winnipeg Elmwood-Transcona. The vote is so close though the Conservative incumbent, Lawrence Toel, may ask for a recount. The margin was just 51 votes. The NDP victor, Daniel Blaikie, is the son of the popular Bill Blaikie, who long held the seat for the NDP even through times when its present, very reduced count of 44 seats would have been seen as a giant leap forward. Blaikie was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1979 to 2008. Daniel said the NDP would have its work cut out for it to hold the new Liberal government to account.
My own riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa re-elected Conservative incumbent Robert Sopuck, by thousands of votes even though he was running against a popular former Conservative MP with the improbable name of Inky Mark. No one came close to Sopuck even though Mark probably took a double-digit percentage of the Conservative vote. Mark had always been an independent representative. He joined a demonstration in support of the Wheat Board when his party wanted to end its monopsony, because the majority of his local farmer constituents opposed the Conservative policy. This time around he chose to run as an independent. The Liberal came far behind Sopuck with the NDP third and then Mark. The Green Party also had a candidate. This riding mirrors the situation in most rural Manitoba ridings where Conservatives have historically been dominant. The only exception is the north where aboriginal groups often vote for the NDP or Liberals and the Conservatives do poorly.
The Conservatives will need to extend their popular support beyond their rural base if they want to do better in Manitoba federally. The NDP were fortunate to elect members in even two ridings given that the provincial NDP government is not at all popular and that NDP members were being defeated by Liberals across Canada.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Manitoba election results, 2015 Federal election, Winnipeg
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