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Work cut out for us: Caldwell

NDP MLA weighs in on poor poll results

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Brandon East MLA Drew Caldwell (left) and Premier Greg Selinger don't have a lot to smile about after a new poll showed the NDP's  support at near-historic lows in Manitoba.

COLIN CORNEAU/ BRANDON SUN FILES Enlarge Image

Brandon East MLA Drew Caldwell (left) and Premier Greg Selinger don't have a lot to smile about after a new poll showed the NDP's support at near-historic lows in Manitoba.

BRANDON -- Recent poll numbers showing a plunge in support for the NDP are a sign the party has to pick up its game and regain the confidence of Manitobans, says Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell.

"They're obviously numbers that are of significant importance to us," Caldwell said. "The polls are snapshots in time. They're important to give you a benchmark of where you are at that point in time, so these are numbers that have to be taken seriously."

Results of a Probe Research poll released this week show nearly half of Manitobans support the Progressive Conservatives, led by Brian Pallister. The PCs have 48 per cent support provincially (up from 43 per cent in September).

Support for the NDP dropped to 26 per cent, compared with 29 per cent in September, and 35 per cent in April. Liberals are showing 20 per cent support, up from 15 per cent in April.

"There's no doubt that it's associated with our performance during the last year, and that's a strong message to us as well that we've got to... regain the confidence of Manitobans," Caldwell said.

"We have two years till the next election and a lot of work to be done."

'We have two years till the next election and a lot of work to be done'

-- Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell

The election is set for April 19, 2016.

The poll shows the most significant shift in voter support is in Winnipeg.

The PCs are up four points from the last poll in September, to 41 per cent support in Winnipeg.

That increase has come at the expense of Premier Greg Selinger's New Democrats, who have slipped to 29 per cent -- down from 36 per cent in September.

To put it in perspective, the NDP enjoyed 52 per cent popular support in Winnipeg in the 2011 election.

Caldwell highlighted the fact the government is dedicating the provincial sales tax revenue to roads, bridges and flood protection.

"Manitobans are going to see an awful lot of infrastructure construction over the next two years," he said.

Resources will go toward the expansion of the Daly Overpass, which Caldwell said is the top infrastructure priority for Brandon. Redeveloping Highway 10 both north and south of Brandon will also have a positive effect. Caldwell also touched on the permanent dike construction happening along 18th Street North.

When asked whether he thinks it's time for a leadership change, Caldwell said: "I have confidence in the premier.(He) will make his own determination as to what his timeline is on his career."

Brandon West PC MLA Reg Helwer said the poll numbers show the PCs are "listening to Manitobans and the NDP is not."

"They, time and again, have discounted what Manitobans have been saying about tax increases and are moving ahead without regard," Helwer said.

While the poll numbers are promising to the Tories, Helwer said they still have a lot to do in the next two years leading up to election day.

"That's the most important (poll), so we'll be trying to make sure that we're reflecting Manitobans' needs when we get there," he said.

The provincewide survey was conducted by Probe Research via telephone between Dec. 6 and 16 among a random and representative sampling of 1,012 Manitoba adults.

With a sample of 1,012, Probe Research says one can say with 95 per cent certainty the results are within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points of what they would have been if the entire adult population of Manitoba had been interviewed.

Probe president Scott MacKay said the NDP has done a poor sales job of its one-point PST increase to eight per cent, which took effect July 1.

"This is near historic lows," MacKay said of the NDP's current numbers. "Not since the 1980s have things been this bad. The 22-point spread between the Tories and NDP is just huge."

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 28, 2013 A9

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