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Death likely won't affect elections

REGINA -- With the outpouring of emotion for Jack Layton, political observers on the Prairies wonder if the federal NDP leader's death will galvanize the party's support in two provincial elections this fall.

Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger faces off with Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen on Oct. 4. Saskatchewan Opposition NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter is challenging Saskatchewan Party Premier Brad Wall on Nov. 7.

"I don't think that anyone wants to think of what sort of politics might emerge in the short term out of the sadness that we're all feeling," said veteran New Democrat Bill Blaikie, a former MP and now a Manitoba cabinet minister. He's not running in October.

"Everybody... who is involved in the campaign will be inspired to campaign just a little harder... having Jack for an example as someone who, in spite of obvious personal medical difficulties, soldiered on," Blaikie said. "As I heard someone say... 'You know, the next time I think about whether I just want to canvass one more block or do one more pamphlet drop or whatever the case may be, I just think of Jack Layton and how he persevered.' "

University of Manitoba political studies Prof. Paul Thomas said Layton "had very wide coattails" and carried a lot of candidates to Parliament Hill. But that doesn't necessarily translate into votes in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, Thomas said.

"I think he serves as a source of inspiration for people in the party and a source of motivation," he said. "I think in that sense, there will be some spillover, but the provincial elections are fought on provincial issues and each province has its own history, traditions and political culture."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 25, 2011 A4

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