Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Notable names could challenge in elections

Next-generation NDPers eye upcoming races

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Political manoeuvering is afoot on Winnipeg's east side, and the sons of two NDP titans are involved.

Daniel Blaikie, son of longtime NDP MP and former House of Commons Speaker Bill Blaikie, is expected to make a bid for his father's old federal seat of Elmwood-Transcona.

Election speculation

THERE'S been a spate of rumours, manoeuvering and backroom chatter lately as people gear up for the next round of elections, even though some are two-plus years out. The jockeying could be sparked by the Senate scandal now consuming Ottawa and a round of federal and provincial polls that show the Liberals on the upswing, the provincial NDP in trouble and Conservative Leader Brian Pallister's party gaining traction in Winnipeg. Two federal byelections -- a low-key one in Provencher and a messy and unpredictable one in Brandon-Souris -- also have politicos talking. Here are the dates to watch.

 

  • Provincial -- 2.5 years away

The likely election date is April 19, 2016. Fixed-election legislation would normally put voting day in October of 2015. But to avoid confusing overlap, new provisions allow the provincial election to be moved to the following April if the federal vote is held in October 2015.

 

  • Federal -- Two years away

As per legislation, the next federal election is likely slated for Oct. 19, 2015, though nothing prevents the prime minister from asking the Governor General to dissolve parliament any time.

 

  • Civic -- One year away

Fallout, and lingering questions, from the damning fire-hall audit has made some wish election day was sooner. It's Oct. 22, 2014.

"I am seriously thinking about it," said Blaikie, an electrician who lives in Transcona with his family. "I'm pretty sure that I'm going to do it."

Asked how much his pedigree will help him in the riding, Blaikie said he's accustomed to the question -- it came up during his first job interview at a grocery store when he was 16 years old. He didn't get the job, in part because the manager feared Blaikie would want to unionize the staff.

'At the end of the day, you have to make your own name'

-- Daniel Blaikie, son of longtime NDP MP Bill Blaikie

"In that instance, being Bill Blaikie's son didn't help me," he said. "At the end of the day, you have to make your own name."

For the NDP nomination, Blaikie will likely face MLA Jim Maloway, a political fixture in the area for nearly 30 years. Maloway says it's too early to say whether he plans to seek the nomination again, but said it makes sense for the party to choose the incumbent candidate with an established track record.

"Who in their right mind wouldn't go with the previous incumbent if he's well-organized and active?" said Maloway.

Maloway pointed to key issues he championed while an MP, including the Plessis Road underpass and an air passenger bill of rights that are now coming to fruition.

This would be the second time Maloway has made a federal bid, and it would spark another round of confusing musical chairs in the area. Maloway left provincial politics and ran federally in the 2008 election after Bill Blaikie retired from federal politics. Blaikie then ran provincially in Maloway's old seat and served a term in the Manitoba legislature. When Maloway lost to Conservative MP Lawrence Toet in the 2011 federal election, Maloway then ran again provincially and won his old Elmwood seat back.

Since then, Maloway has maintained a presence in Transcona. Using federal party dollars, he sent flyers throughout the federal riding earlier this summer calling on the city to build a bypass road during the construction of the Plessis Road underpass. And, Maloway spoke out -- successfully -- against changes to the riding's boundaries that would have removed Elmwood from the constituency, shifting its borders east to include large swaths of rural voters.

Meanwhile, Jason Schreyer, son of former NDP premier Ed Schreyer, is considering a bid for city council in the Elmwood-East Kildonan ward now held by Coun. Thomas Steen.

"I'm obliged to give it some very serious thought," said Schreyer. "I'm very seriously looking at this."

Schreyer lives just outside the ward but has deep roots there. He was Maloway's constituency assistant for years. He now works for Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.

Schreyer said he would likely make roads, public safety and poverty his key civic priorities.

The ward has traditionally been friendly turf for the NDP. It was held for 21 years by NDP stalwart Lillian Thomas before she retired in 2010. That allowed Steen, with the help of federal Conservative campaign strategists, to squeak in a victory in the ward.

If Schreyer runs, he could have some competition on the left, especially now that the NDP will no longer formally endorse civic candidates. Darryl Livingstone, a longtime NDP activist and Lillian Thomas's former assistant, has said he also plans to run against Steen in the ward.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 A8

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