St. Boniface byelection

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robbie_dee
St. Boniface byelection

Winnipeg Free Press: St. Boniface byelection set for July 17

 

Quote:

A byelection will be held July 17 in the provincial constituency of St. Boniface to fill the vacancy left by former Manitoba premier Greg Selinger's resignation earlier this year.

Premier Brian Pallister called the byelection Tuesday, ending months of speculation as to its timing.

The byelection presents an opportunity for the Liberals to achieve party status in the Manitoba legislature — four seats — and the extra funding and perks it brings.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, who does not hold a seat, will represent his party in the contest.

Blandine Tona, a community activist, is trying to retain the constituency for the NDP; Mamadou Ka, who sought the seat for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2016, will represent the Tories once again; Françoise Therrien Vrignon will be the Green party candidate.

robbie_dee
robbie_dee

Most notable about this byelection, perhaps, is that if Liberal leader Dougald Lamont wins the Manitoba Liberal Party will become the only provincial Liberal party with official status in its provincial legislature between the Rocky Mountains and the Ontario/Quebec border.

robbie_dee
Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

And it will be amusing to hear people who voted for Lamont try to argue that the fact that he was the only white man in the race had NOTHING to do with their support for him.  Yeah, that was JUST a coincidence.  Right.

bekayne

Ken Burch wrote:

And it will be amusing to hear people who voted for Lamont try to argue that the fact that he was the only white man in the race had NOTHING to do with their support for him.  Yeah, that was JUST a coincidence.  Right.

Mamadou Ka's vote went from 2,211 to 834. The voters suddenly noticed she wasn't white?

robbie_dee

Ken Burch wrote:

And it will be amusing to hear people who voted for Lamont try to argue that the fact that he was the only white man in the race had NOTHING to do with their support for him. Yeah, that was JUST a coincidence. Right.

From the previously linked CBC article I would just make a note of this, too:

Quote:

Elections Manitoba reported that 6,270 of St. Boniface's 12,960 registered voters cast ballots for a turnout of just over 48 per cent.

By contrast, the riding had a voter turnout of close to 64 per cent in the general election in 2016.

The election was the first time all voters have been required to show identification to prove who they are: either one piece of government-issued photo identification, or two pieces of ID without photos.

Until now, people whose names appeared on the voters list did not need to prove their identity by producing identification, except in advance voting.

Experience from the U.S. is that voter ID laws disproportionately impact lower income and minority voters. Not sure if there is sufficient evidence in Canada to say, but many of the same factors as apply in the U.S. would be at play here. Certainly that's not the only reason for lower turnout in a by-election, or for the white guy's win in said by-election on a lower turnout, but it could have played a role.

bekayne

By Canadian standards, a provincial by-election turnout that's around 75% of the General Election turnout isn't that bad. It's usually less that 50%

robbie_dee

Yeah I thought that, too. Good on the people of St. Boniface for getting out to vote in the middle of the summer for a byelection with, at best, limited ramifications beyond those very specifically affecting the parties involved.

The fact that turnout only dropped relatively modestly from the general election doesn't necessarily indicate that the demographic composition of the people who turned out is the same, though. I was intrigued that this particular race only featured one white guy running against a black woman, a black man and a white woman.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

It's especially icky that a lot of Selinger voters didn't vote for Blandine Tona.  How can that NOT have a deeply unpleasant subtext?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

bekayne wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

And it will be amusing to hear people who voted for Lamont try to argue that the fact that he was the only white man in the race had NOTHING to do with their support for him.  Yeah, that was JUST a coincidence.  Right.

Mamadou Ka's vote went from 2,211 to 834. The voters suddenly noticed she wasn't white?

It's possible, given that you didn't notice "she's" a guy.

bekayne

Ken Burch wrote:

bekayne wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

And it will be amusing to hear people who voted for Lamont try to argue that the fact that he was the only white man in the race had NOTHING to do with their support for him.  Yeah, that was JUST a coincidence.  Right.

Mamadou Ka's vote went from 2,211 to 834. The voters suddenly noticed she wasn't white?

It's possible, given that you didn't notice "she's" a guy.

Oops

ghoris

Not that surprising a result.

1) The Liberals threw everything they had at this by-election. For once, the federal party actually brought its machine to bear on behalf of the provincial party, and it showed.

2) I'm sure there was a bad taste left in a lot of Selinger supporters' mouths over the way Kinew forced him out. And of course, there's still a lot of division and bad blood in the party all around after the cabinet revolt and aftermath. In short, I'll wager a significant number of NDP voters just stayed home.

3) I'm sure the Tory vote cratering helped the Liberals. The collapse of the Tory vote was about the only positive thing Kinew could point to afterward, and even still it kind of looks like you're grapsing at straws when you've just lost a formerly safe seat that your party has held for 36 of the last 47 years.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

ghoris wrote:

Not that surprising a result.

1) The Liberals threw everything they had at this by-election. For once, the federal party actually brought its machine to bear on behalf of the provincial party, and it showed.

2) I'm sure there was a bad taste left in a lot of Selinger supporters' mouths over the way Kinew forced him out. And of course, there's still a lot of division and bad blood in the party all around after the cabinet revolt and aftermath. In short, I'll wager a significant number of NDP voters just stayed home.

3) I'm sure the Tory vote cratering helped the Liberals. The collapse of the Tory vote was about the only positive thing Kinew could point to afterward, and even still it kind of looks like you're grapsing at straws when you've just lost a formerly safe seat that your party has held for 36 of the last 47 years.

Didn't Selinger simply announce on election night that he was standing down?  There couldn't still have been people who thought it could have made any sense to have Selinger fight the NEXT election as leader, could there?  If so, why?  There's no way he could have led the party back to power after losing that badly.

robbie_dee

If this win proves to boost the MB Liberals in the longer term, how much does that help or hurt the Manitoba PCs vs the NDP? I understand that in Saskatchewan, at least historically, the Liberal Party tended to split the anti-NDP vote with the PCs/Saskatchewan Party/whoever else. But in MB, historically at least, the Liberals seem to be fishing from the same pool (or, at least, contending most strongly) in the ridings where the NDP is the main competitor and to perform most strongly province-wide when the NDP is weakest. In other words, did Dougald Lamont's win just basically guarantee Pallister a second term?

ghoris

Ken Burch wrote:

Didn't Selinger simply announce on election night that he was standing down?  There couldn't still have been people who thought it could have made any sense to have Selinger fight the NEXT election as leader, could there?  If so, why?  There's no way he could have led the party back to power after losing that badly.

Selinger did resign as leader on election night, you're correct. However, he did not resign as MLA for St. Boniface. He resigned as MLA only after Kinew asked him to resign in the wake of the revelation of allegations of improper behaviour involving Stan Struthers aka "Minister Tickles". Kinew's reasoning was that Selinger had to take responsibility for failing to address the problem. Selinger initially did not want to resign as MLA but eventually did. I'm told (hearsay only) that a lot of noses were put out of joint over this.

ghoris

robbie_dee wrote:

If this win proves to boost the MB Liberals in the longer term, how much does that help or hurt the Manitoba PCs vs the NDP? I understand that in Saskatchewan, at least historically, the Liberal Party tended to split the anti-NDP vote with the PCs/Saskatchewan Party/whoever else. But in MB, historically at least, the Liberals seem to be fishing from the same pool (or, at least, contending most strongly) in the ridings where the NDP is the main competitor and to perform most strongly province-wide when the NDP is weakest. In other words, did Dougald Lamont's win just basically guarantee Pallister a second term?

I wouldn't say it guarantees Pallister a second term, but you're correct that a stronger Liberal party is generally worse for the NDP. Part of the reason the NDP finally won government in 1999 was that the Liberal vote collapsed down to just over 10% and most of it went to the NDP (the Tories still polled a relatively healthy 40% in that election).

That said, I hesitate to say this seals the deal for Pallister given that Manitoba voters have shown over the last 20 years that they are much more volatile than in past years. Geographically (and demographically) Manitoba used to be very polarized. From the late 60s onward there was an east-west running 'fault line' that divided the NDP north from the Tory south (both in Winnipeg and outside the Perimeter). A small handful of swing seats along this fault line were generally where elections were decided.

That historical pattern started to go away after 1999, particularly in Winnipeg. The NDP started winning seats in places where it was never even competitive before like Southdale, St. Norbert, Kirkfield Park and Seine River - all formerly solid Tory seats. Then in 2016 we saw formerly bedrock NDP seats like Kildonan, Transcona, Radisson, Selkirk and Thompson go PC.

So on traditional voting patterns, a strong Liberal party is generally bad for the NDP. But given how increasingly volatile Manitoba voters are getting, I think the best we can say is that a stronger Liberal party is a wildcard going into the next election and could end up being a spoiler for either main party. (If Pallister keeps pissing off Winnipeg voters and the NDP continues to fumble, we could see a redux of 1988.)

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

BTW, anybody know where Lamont is on at least the Liberal spectrum?  Would he be considered to be right-wing, left-wing or wingless within the MLP spectrum?

robbie_dee

ghoris wrote:

Not that surprising a result.

1) The Liberals threw everything they had at this by-election. For once, the federal party actually brought its machine to bear on behalf of the provincial party, and it showed.

2) I'm sure there was a bad taste left in a lot of Selinger supporters' mouths over the way Kinew forced him out. And of course, there's still a lot of division and bad blood in the party all around after the cabinet revolt and aftermath. In short, I'll wager a significant number of NDP voters just stayed home.

3) I'm sure the Tory vote cratering helped the Liberals. The collapse of the Tory vote was about the only positive thing Kinew could point to afterward, and even still it kind of looks like you're grapsing at straws when you've just lost a formerly safe seat that your party has held for 36 of the last 47 years.

Ghoris, your third bullet point prompted me to look up the history of the seat on Wikipedia, and particularly the NDP MLA who held it before Selinger: Laurent Desjardins. Seems that before he was an ND he was a Liberal! And his change in affiliation was particularly impactful. Interesting reading.

Quote:

The 1969 election was a watershed in Manitoba politics, and resulted in a dramatic shift in Desjardins's career. Under Edward Schreyer's leadership, the social-democratic NDP moved from third to first place, winning 28 seats out of 57 in the assembly. This was one short of a majority, and there was initial uncertainty as to which party or parties would form government. There was some consideration of an "anti-socialist coalition", which would have brought together all parties except the NDP under the leadership of former Liberal leader Gildas Molgat. This, however, did not occur. The impasse was ended when Desjardians announced that he would offer parliamentary support to the NDP, and change his party affiliation to Liberal-Democrat.

Desjardins's change of affiliation was significant, and on some levels surprising. He had previously been known as an opponent of socialism, and Manitoba's francophone population had not traditionally been supportive of the New Democratic Party before this time. Nevertheless, Desjardins was able to form an alliance with Schreyer (himself a centrist New Democrat), on the understanding that he would be able to continue to work in favour of denominational school funding on the government side.

In order to make sure this move was supported by his constituents, Desjardins organized a vote of confidence on this decision on July 8. Had he lost this vote, Desjardins would have resigned as MLA, and would have ran as a Liberal-Democrat candidate in a subsequent by-election. About 1000 people showed up at the Louis Riel School gymnasium for the vote of canfidence, and Desjardins received a standing ovation when he arrived in the hall. The vast majority of the attendees gave their support to Desjardins, with only 13 people opposing him.[7] Desjardins became Schreyer's legislative assistant in 1969, and formally joined the New Democratic Party in 1971.

On December 1, 1971, Desjardins was appointed Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.[6] In July 1972, his efforts in support of denominational schools were dealt a setback when a government-sponsored bill to permit funding was defeated by a free vote in the legislature. (The Schreyer government did, however, make administrative agreements with certain private schools to provide them with access to public monies.)

Given the lack of historical francophone support for the NDP in Manitoba, it was unclear if Desjardins would be re-elected in the provincial election of 1973, and his riding was targeted by a right-wing "citizen's" group in the amalgamated city of Winnipeg (which included St. Boniface). This group convinced the Progressive Conservative Party to withdraw their candidate in St. Boniface, so as to provide a single "anti-socialist" alternative to the NDP.

Desjardins's sole opponent in June 1973 was Liberal candidate J. Paul Marion. Following a very close race, Marion was declared the winner by a single vote (4301 to 4300). This result was disputed, however, and was subsequently overturned by the Controverted Elections Act. In December 1974, Desjardins defeated Marion in a by-election[6] by over 600 votes.

Schreyer's New Democrats were re-elected in the 1973 campaign. Desjardins had resigned from cabinet on January 28, 1974, during the ongoing controversy concerning the St. Boniface results, but on December 23, 1974, he was re-admitted to cabinet as Minister of Health and Social Development. On January 8, 1975, he was also given responsibility for the Manitoba Lotteries Act.[6]

Desjardins was easily re-elected in the 1977 election, although Schreyer's New Democrats were defeated provincially by the Progressive Conservatives under Sterling Lyon. Desjardins sat as a member of the opposition for the next four years.

The New Democrats were returned to power in the provincial election of 1981 under the leadership of Howard Pawley, and Desjardins was personally re-elected without difficulty. He was re-appointed to cabinet on November 30, 1981, serving as Minister of Health and Minister of Recreation and Sport, with responsibility for the Lotteries and Gaming Control Act. He was re-designated as Minister of Health with responsibility for Minister responsible for Sport, the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act, and the Boxing and Wrestling Commission Act and the Manitoba Lotteries Foundation Act.[6]

During the 1980s, Desjardins was a prominent supporter of Howard Pawley's efforts to expand and entrench French-language services in Manitoba.

On January 30, 1985, Desjardins was shifted to the Ministry of Urban Affairs. He was again re-elected without difficulty in the 1986 provincial election, and on April 17, 1986, he was re-appointed Minister of Health and Sport (once again holding responsibility for the Boxing and Wrestling Commission Act and the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act).[6]

Desjardins resigned from his cabinet positions on February 10, 1988, after a Supreme Court ruling that provinces could not restrict a woman's right to abortion,[3] and announced that he would be leaving the legislature to take a job in the private sector. His seat was not formally declared vacant, but he stopped attending sessions of the legislature after this period. He then served as head of the Manitoba Health Organization until 1990.[1]

Ironically, just as Desjardins had helped bring the NDP into government in 1969, his decision to leave the legislature in 1988 played a major role in the party's unexpected fall from power. In his absence, the legislature was almost evenly divided between government and opposition members; as such, NDP backbencher Jim Walding's decision to vote against his government's budget was enough to defeat the Pawley ministry in the house.[3] The NDP lost the election which followed, and did not return to power until 1999.

The Analyst The Analyst's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

BTW, anybody know where Lamont is on at least the Liberal spectrum?  Would he be considered to be right-wing, left-wing or wingless within the MLP spectrum?

His past rhetoric makes it sound like he comes from the centre-left leaning wing of the Liberal Party, but his rhetoric as leader thus far has been about "jobs". Some good talk on reducing the number of kids in care, but few specific promises about how from what I can see. 

 

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:

ghoris wrote:

Not that surprising a result.

1) The Liberals threw everything they had at this by-election. For once, the federal party actually brought its machine to bear on behalf of the provincial party, and it showed.

2) I'm sure there was a bad taste left in a lot of Selinger supporters' mouths over the way Kinew forced him out. And of course, there's still a lot of division and bad blood in the party all around after the cabinet revolt and aftermath. In short, I'll wager a significant number of NDP voters just stayed home.

3) I'm sure the Tory vote cratering helped the Liberals. The collapse of the Tory vote was about the only positive thing Kinew could point to afterward, and even still it kind of looks like you're grapsing at straws when you've just lost a formerly safe seat that your party has held for 36 of the last 47 years.

Didn't Selinger simply announce on election night that he was standing down?  There couldn't still have been people who thought it could have made any sense to have Selinger fight the NEXT election as leader, could there?  If so, why?  There's no way he could have led the party back to power after losing that badly.

Ken, I think you said it well so long ago when you said that Selinger waws staying in was for egotistical reasons. Sure he stepped down as leader, but was there any reason for him not to step down as MLA? Even initially, he was very stubborn about stepping down. Had he done so on election night, even though the party was in disarry afterwards, I'm sure there would have been a near 100% chance of the NDP retaining the seat. He does have a following in St. Boniface, and people may have felt angry about the way he was forced out, thus contributing to the defeat. Although if people were still supporting Selinger even after the revelations of Struther's behaviour, the party has even bigger problems.

I'm not particularly surprised by this result. The real indicator of danger for the NDP was not the St. Boniface by-election, but the one to replace Kevin Chief in Point Douglas. Point Douglas was such a solid NDP seat that there was no chance the NDP would lose. But look at the numbers. Even in the 2016 election, Chief's vote share did fall, however he still managed to win the support of nearly 3 in 5 voters. In the by-election that followed, the NDP support cratered to 2 in 5 voters, the only time in that riding's history that the NDP had less than half the vote. A collapse like that is bad news all around.