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Byelection speculation for nerds

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We all thought Premier Doer might call Elmwood today. But he didn't.

I've checked the calendar, and I think the byelection will be called Feb. 6 for a March 9 vote.

That's not a controversial pick. Pretty much everyone figures it has to be next week. My rational is this: Doer wants Blaikie in the house before the budget. The budget will likely be anytime between March 23 and April 10. For the last couple of years, the budget's been in early April, so a nice day might be April 8, but two days later is Good Friday so I think that's out. No paper, limited TV coverage, no point having snazzy budget announcements while everyone is in line for brunch at Stella's.

The week before is spring break for a lot of people, plus April Fools Day. Good puns make bad headlines. That week's out.

March 26 sounds a bit earlier than normal, but not without precedent. Plus, it might be good to have a budget out a little earlier, to assuage fears. I am going to take a risk and bet on Wed., March 26, give or take a day. That would only give Blaikie a couple of weeks in his new cabinet job before facing budget lock-up,but it's not like ministers get tough questions on budget day, and he's an experienced politician, so two weeks might be enough to get the Coles Notes on Intergovernmental Affairs or Advanced Ed or whatever portfolio he gets.

As for The Pas, who the heck knows? There's five people lined up for the NDP nomination there, which, as my colleague Bruce Owen noted, undermines Doer's idea that the riding is in mourning and needs time to come to grips with MLA Oscar Lathlin's passing before a by-election. The nomination date was tentatively set for Feb. 14, but that's been postponed for at least a couple weeks.

Doer wouldn't hint when he'd like to call that one, though travel through the sprawling riding in bad weather is one consideration that might push the vote well into the spring. Just for the hell of it, I am going to bet it's April 21.

As an aside, the Tories have a surprisingly good candidate lined up in The Pas. Cree fashion designer Edna Nabess is running. What if she wins?

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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