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Justin photobomb? Hardly

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You know things are nutty when you see a photo like this one.

A bubbly Justin Trudeau aping for the camera between Brandon's Rick Borotsik, sporting a "Justin" button over his heart, and his wife Norma.

This photo appeared on the front of the Brandon Sun Sept. 25, after the two had met at a Brandon Liberal function, and it sort of symbolizes everything about the upcoming federal by-election in Brandon-Souris.

Or everything that's gone wrong, at least for the Harper Conservatives.

Borotsik, Brandon's former mayor, is a longtime Conservative having also served as an MP and a MLA.

He's enjoying retirement now, but is still active in local political circles.

He doesn't think much of Harper anymore and speaks glowingly about Trudeau.

"He's a very capable individual, a very nice individual," Borotsik says. "He talks the right things. He talks to you, not over you. I was very impressed actually with our session.

"I would not have been at that Liberal gathering had the nomination process in Brandon-Souris not been so skewed for the Conservatives."

Borotsik says he was supporting Chris Kennedy for the Tory nomination, but that support ended when the Conservative Party of Canada determined Kennedy did not have his nomination papers filed in time at the deadline. Or properly. Or forgot to pay his nomination fee. Or whatever.

"I was a little perturbed, I have to admit. I still am a little perturbed. I think there should have been a nomination meeting. I think it should have gone ahead. It didn't, so I wanted to hear what Justin Trudeau had to say. And quite frankly, I was very pleased with his message."

Borotsik says Kennedy was the ideal candidate in that he's young, smart and connected.

His disqualification by the party, along with Len Isleifson, from vying for the party's candidate nomination left Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire to be acclaimed. The disqualification is still clouded in suspicion and innuendo.

"Even people who are not terribly politically involved, they see this as being a little untoward. They see it as too slick for the Conservative nominee and they may well take it to the ballot box or they may stay home."

Borotsik says the disqualification of Kennedy and Isleifson also deprived the Conservatives of getting positive spin from a contested nomination.

"We could have been one happy family and sing Kumbaya. Didn't happen. There is no big happy family and there is no Kumbaya as far as I'm concerned."

Borotsik's prediction on the outcome of the by-election? Maguire and the Conservatives will win, but by a much smaller plurality. Maybe.

Brandon will be the battleground.

"I'm not placing bets on this one. All I know is that is that it's added a different dimension and it's added a lot of excitement."

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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