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Is that Tory a Dipper?

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They might be riding high in the polls but the provincial Tories keep getting dragged down north of Winnipeg.

As if they don't have enough troubles in the region, now they may have nominated a New Democrat as their candidate in Selkirk.

That's former Selkirk mayor Dave Bell, who won the Tory nomination earlier this year. Earlier this month, after what sounds like persistent questions about Bell's previous political affiliations, Bell told the Selkirk Record that he was never a hardcore NDP supporter. He said people might have mistaken him for one because he was a member of the nurse's union and worked very well with former premier Gary Doer. Bell said he may have supported individuals but kept his political stripes to himself and never supported a party until coming out as a Tory. He said he's always been a fan of area MP James Bezan, a Tory.

Things got even juicier again last week when well-known Selkirk Dipper Duane Nicol blew the whistle on Bell, saying Bell has been a card-carrying NDP member, even back to 2004. Nicol said Bell made a bid to be a delegate to the NDP leadership convention a couple of years ago. Nicol, a city councillor, also alleges Bell wanted to challenge backbencher Greg Dewar, the long-time NDP MLA for Selkirk, for the NDP nomination but was dissuaded.

As Nicol notes, it's not a great way to start a campaign. On the other hand, the Tories are not likely to win Selkirk, which is former premier Howard Pawley's old riding. And, privately, their spin is that Bell's defection from the NDP ought to signal to voters something is amiss on the Selinger ship.

At any rate, thanks to the Selkirk Record for a fun diversion from the federal campaign.

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