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Tory nomination update

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The chances of a provincial election this year are pretty slim, but that hasn't stopped the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives from getting serious about nominations. This is a particularly important story, given Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen's pledge to take a more direct role in candidate nominations. The Tories have been active all over southeast Winnipeg, where the Doer-era NDP captured seats that have given them a stranglehold on what some Tories have referred to as "Fortress Winnipeg."

As an indication of McFadyen's commitment to getting organized, things are heating up in the Tory nomination battles, where acclamations DO not seem to be the order of the day.

In River Heights, the Tories have a taut three-way race underway. The candidates include:

Colleen McFadden, a pension consultant who is not related to Hugh McFadyen thanks to an extra 'd' and a missing 'y;

Brian Davis (a real estate developer and roofing company owner);

and Martin Morantz, a lawyer and currently an executive with a financial services company.

The Tories are reportedly selling memberships like mad in River Heights, a typical by-product of a three-way nomination battle. This, Tory insiders hope, is the key to knocking off current MLA, Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard.

However, that is not the only nomination battle brewing. In St. Norbert, another riding the Tories desperately want to claw back from the NDP, the party has recruited Karen Velthuys, chairwoman of the Pembina Trails School Division. This sets up a tilt with Chuck Davidson, a former journalist and long-time communications director for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, who has also thrown his hat in the ring.

Davidson, a former provincial Tory communications director, is certainly no stranger to the folks in McFadyen's office. So, it's with some interest that they would recruit another candidate to run against him. But that is the nature of the game when party leaders announce their intention to direct nominations. There are going to be some toes stepped on.

Game on.

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.

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