Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Who will take Doer's seat?

NDP holds quick nomination meeting for Concordia riding

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A byelection to replace former premier Gary Doer has yet to be called, but that isn't stopping the NDP from nominating a candidate as soon as possible.

The party holds its Concordia nomination meeting on Nov. 22 so the winner can start door-knocking right away to build a profile voters will remember. Doer represented the riding for 23 years.

To date only Matthew Wiebe, Doer's former constituency executive assistant, and Winnipeg businessman Leonard Kimacovich have declared their intention to seek the nomination. Kimacovich is a former East St. Paul councillor who ran unsuccessfully in the 1999 provincial election under the NDP banner.

"We all feel it's important to get a new candidate nominated and get on the ground running," Concordia NDP constituency president Jim Still said.

Before representing Doer in Concordia, Wiebe worked for former Elmwood-Transcona NDP MP Bill Blaikie, Still said.

Blaikie is now the MLA for Elmwood and Premier Greg Selinger named him conservation minister last week.

Wiebe and Kimacovich were unavailable for comment Monday.

Selinger is expected to call the by-election early in the new year.

The premier has up to one year to call a byelection from the date the seat is vacated if a general election does not happen before then.

Doer resigned as Concordia MLA shortly after Selinger was sworn in as premier. The fixed date of the next provincial election is Oct. 4, 2011.

A local religious leader in the area is also said to be vying for the nomination meeting, but he could not be reached for comment.

There are two others rumoured to been sniffing around the nomination.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who recently worked for Steve Ashton's NDP leadership bid, said he's content to continue his work as a city councillor.

Blaikie's daughter, Rebecca, is also seen as possibly taking a run at the nomination but that's unlikely, sources said.Rebecca Blaikie was recently re-assigned to work as an assistant to Kerri Irvin-Ross, the minister picked by Selinger to head up the newly created housing and community development portfolio. Prior to that, she was special assistant to the labour minister.

Rebecca Blaikie is no stranger to campaign politics.

She ran unsuccessfully for the NDP in the Quebec riding of LaSalle -- Émard in the 2004 federal election.

She was also elected as federal party treasurer at the New Democratic convention in Halifax last August.

A Manitoba Progressive Conservative spokesman said the Tories do not have a nomination meeting scheduled, although the party has several prospective candidates.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 10, 2009 A4

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