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Assessing Manitoba's political landscape

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Safe bets

MORE than half of Manitoba's ridings are unlikely to change hands on Monday. Most of those are die-hard Tory ridings in rural Manitoba that rarely swing anyway other than to the right. One Tory MP, Candice Hoeppner in Portage-Lisgar, is so confident of re-election that she's been travelling the country campaigning against the gun registry in rural ridings. The safe bets are:

-- Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia: Tory Steven Fletcher

-- Kildonan-St. Paul: Tory Joy Smith

-- Winnipeg-Centre: New Democrat Pat Martin

-- Brandon-Souris: Tory Merv Tweed

-- Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette: Tory Bob Sopuck

-- Portage-Lisgar: Tory Candice Hoeppner

-- Provencher: Tory Vic Toews

-- Selkirk-Interlake: Tory James Bezan

 

Up for grabs

 

Saint Boniface

FORMER Liberal MP Raymond Simard is hoping to recapture his old riding from outspoken Tory MP Shelly Glover, but it's an uphill battle.

He's got to recover 4,700 votes at a time when the Liberal national campaign is tanking. A conspicuously absent NDP campaign could help funnel votes to Simard, but Glover has been high-profile and a good constituency MP.

What Glover must do to win: Get her base to the polls.

What Simard must do to win: Win the suburbs. Simard is strongest in the francophone neighbourhoods and that's not good enough. He needs the Southdales and the Sage Creeks.

 

Winnipeg North

IN probably the tightest race in the city, rookie Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux is looking to hold on to the seat he stole from the NDP last fall in a byelection. He's up against New Democrat Rebecca Blaikie.

Turnout was terrible in last fall's byelection and likely gave Lamoureux the edge, so the NDP are counting on a stronger turnout, national polls that put them ahead of the Grits and an all-hands-on-deck approach to election day.

What Blaikie must do to win: Get out the vote, especially in the North End portion of the riding, where her support is strongest.

What Lamoureux must do to win: Ditto, especially in the riding's west side where his support is strongest.

 

Winnipeg South

TORY MP Rod Bruinooge says it's the fastest-growing riding in the province and probably has 15 per cent more residents than when he first won in 2006.

Many of those are in new, Tory-friendly suburbs such as Waverley West. Bruinooge says he's feeling like his support in the riding mirrors the party's standings in the national polls -- in the high 30s. But privately the Liberals are feeling optimistic about their chances with candidate Terry Duguid, who has been door-knocking relentlessly for 18 months and is a seasoned campaigner. That's why Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff hosted a town hall Tuesday for Duguid during the frenzied last week of the campaign. It could be close.

What Duguid must do to win: Appeal to small-C conservatives who might be uncomfortable with Bruinooge's anti-abortion stance and get every last one of his supporters to the polls.

What Bruinooge must do to win: He won the riding with an old-fashioned door-step campaign, and he'll need to do that again.

 

Winnipeg-South Centre

LIBERAL MP Anita Neville is always targeted by the Tories, and her margin of victory has fluctuated with each election.

But this time the Tory campaign has been messy. Liberal school trustee Joyce Bateman switched parties to run for the Conservatives, was very late out of the gate, skipped some debates and many media interviews and made a few missteps. This should be a slam dunk for Neville, except for the fact the Grits are down in the polls and the NDP have waged a decent campaign in the riding.

What Bateman must do to win: Hope some Liberals stay home, New Democrats don't vote Liberal and she cruises up the middle.

What Neville must do to win: Hold her base and hope centre-left voters don't get caught up in Jack Layton's momentum and vote for the NDP.

 

Wild cards

 

Elmwood-Transcona

THERE are some late-in-the-game rumblings that the east Winnipeg riding might not be a cakewalk for NDP MP Jim Maloway.

Fuelling that is a spate of last-minute robo-calls and some high-profile politicians who have waded in to the race, including provincial cabinet minister Steve Ashton and NDP Leader Jack Layton as well as Coun. Russ Wyatt, who switched teams and endorsed Tory candidate Lawrence Toet. The riding has been a working-class NDP stronghold for years, but it's changing thanks to new, more conservative suburbs, plus the Tories made gains in 2008 when they ran former Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen.

Toet has run an equally aggressive campaign, though he was a little late out of the gate and isn't as big a name as Steen. Still, there's a chance of a shocker on Monday night.

 

Churchill

TAKE Manitoba's youngest MP, add in a well-known aboriginal leader, a controversial arch-conservative and some real issues such as mining jobs, clean water, and native health concerns and you could have one of the most interesting races in the province.

Rookie NDP MP Niki Ashton is running against Liberal and former northern grand chief Sydney Garrioch and Conservative Wally Daudrich, who made some inflammatory online remarks about Ashton and U.S. President Barack Obama. It's unlikely Ashton will be defeated -- she won 48 per cent of the vote in 2008 -- but Garrioch is well-known up north and the riding has gone Liberal before.

 

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 29, 2011 A6

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