Moody Manitoba Morning on September 10, 2019 — Pallister Conservatives likely to win majority despite his unpopularity?

Sep 4th, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief
Wab Kinew and his family at Winnipeg Goldeyes ball game summer 2019. (Wab Kinew/Facebook.) The Goldeyes play in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.

[UPDATED 12:10 AM ET, SEPTEMBER 11, 2019]. There was a time not too long ago (late September 2017?) when newly elected Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew seemed likely enough to become the first Indigenous premier of a modern Canadian province. And this milestone would fit nicely with the past of a democratic political community that nowadays recognizes the Métis icon Louis Riel as one of its founders.

Then what Dan Lett at the Winnipeg Free Press deftly summarizes as Mr. Kinew’s “checkered past” started to catch up with him.

(As explained by Wikipedia, in much greater detail : “ In 2003, Kinew was convicted of impaired driving. Kinew has since quit drinking and in 2014 applied for a pardon … which was granted by the Parole Board of Canada in 2016. The Parole Board ruling removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre database references to his convictions on assaulting a taxi driver, a Driving Under the Influence conviction for refusing a breathalyzer sample, and two breaches of court orders … In the spring of 2003, Kinew was [also] charged with two counts of domestic assault related to allegations that he threw his then-girlfriend across a room during an argument. The charges were subsequently stayed. Kinew denies the allegations.”)

Party leaders (left to right) Dougald Lamont (Liberal), Brian Pallister (Progressive Conservative), Wab Kinew (NDP) and James Beddome (Greens) in August 28, 2019 Manitoba leaders’ debate at CBC Manitoba studios.

It is still possible that Wab Kinew will eventually become the first Indigenous premier of a modern Canadian province. But at this point it seems unlikely that this will happen in the Manitoba provincial election now less than a week away.

As Dan Lett has also explained, in the 2019 Manitoba election campaign “NDP Leader Wab Kinew” has been “straining under the weight of a particularly vicious attack campaign from the Tories about his checkered past.”

According to a recent Probe Research poll commissioned for the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV News Winnipeg, 39% of Manitobans see “Wab Kinew’s past” as “a serious issue” and “would struggle to vote for a party’s candidate when its leader has been accused of doing these things.”

Probe Research shows as well that 37% of Manitobans find “Premier and Progressive Conservative Leader” Brian Pallister’s “combative style” very “unhelpful” (and an additional 19% somewhat unhelpful).

“Progressive Conservative party leader Brian Pallister announces that the provincial election is underway after a visit to the Lieutenant Governor on Monday, August 12, 2019 in Winnipeg. (Photo: The Canadian Press).”

Even so (to quote Mr. Lett again) : “according to the same poll, Pallister’s Tories continue to enjoy the support of 40 per cent of respondents, with the NDP and Liberals mired in second (29 per cent) and third place (21 per cent) respectively. Those numbers, if they hold through election day, will likely produce a second majority government” for Premier Pallister.

It may be that, despite the premier’s personal unpopularity, the Progressive Conservatives have somehow captured enough of the current mass imagination to count, with their slogan “Moving Manitoba Forward.”

If so, as a further sign of just how politics everywhere is in a somewhat bizarre state at the moment, the 2019 PC slogan is “word for word, the same one the New Democrats under former premier Greg Selinger used in the 2016 election, which saw the Tories sweep the NDP from power after 17 years” (Steve Lambert, Canadian Press).

(It may or may not be equally worth noting the similarity between the provincial PCs’ “Moving Manitoba Forward” in 2019 and the federal Liberals’ “Choose Forward” in the forthcoming October 21, 2019 Canadian federal election????)

Three cheerleaders for Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Canadian Football League, during year of last Manitoba provincial election in 2016.

On a very final note, according to Manitoba’s fixed election date legislation, the next Manitoba election was supposed to be a year from now in 2020. As in all such cases, however : “Nothing” in this legislation “affects the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, including the power to dissolve the Legislature at the Lieutenant Governor’s discretion.”

Which, translated into plain English, means the premier can still call an election whenever he likes, even if “the only reason an election is taking place on Sept. 10 is the PCs are well ahead in the polls, flush with money and are in position to easily win a second consecutive term in office.”

In any event, stay tuned for the final result this coming Tuesday. Even if it is just as the latest polls predict — a second consecutive majority government for the politicians who want to move forward this year.

Of course there always could be some big Moody Manitoba Morning surprise! But probably not.

UPDATE 12:10 AM, SEP 11, 2019 : No surprises in the end. As matters stand right now, according to the CBC News site, the Pallister Conservatives have a net loss of six seats for a total of 36, with 48% of the popular vote. The Liberals have a loss of one seat, for a total of 3 with 14% of the province-wide vote. Wab Kinew’s New Democrats have a net gain of seven seats, for a total of 18 with 31% of the vote. The Greens have no seats with somewhat better than 6% of the vote. And, to strike a more positive progressive note : “CBC News projects NDP candidates Jamie Moses and Uzoma Asagwara and PC candidate Audrey Gordon made history as the province’s first black MLAs.” All told, the Conservatives have retained a strong majority government (despite the loss in seats from their unusual heights of 2016). And Premier Pallister, to this point in his career, must be judged a quite smart politician!

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