Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Two fighters, one riding

St. James draws both leaders

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When two party leaders court the same riding on the same day, that riding is likely too close to call.

That's what happened in St. James Friday, where Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen and NDP Leader Greg Selinger made promises totalling $10.7 million during campaign pit stops to woo area residents.

McFadyen, who pledged to expand the St. James Civic Centre by adding another ice rink and a new home for the area's seniors group, made another appearance Saturday afternoon in the riding to knock on doors with his candidate, Scott Gillingham.

Selinger, meanwhile, announced an MRI for the Grace Hospital and did a few minutes of mainstreeting on Portage Avenue Friday with NDP candidate Deanne Crothers, stopping in at Chocolatier Constance Popp.

With a week to go in a campaign that's so far been hard to gauge, where the leaders choose to spend their waning days could be telling. McFadyen has made no fewer than eight campaign stops so far in the city's three northwest ridings, most often in the riding of Assiniboia. Gillingham, the Tory candidate in neighbouring St. James, has been shoulder to shoulder with McFadyen at most of those events.

St. James is an odd riding. It's been represented by all three major parties in recent memory, including by former Liberal leader Paul Edwards, but it's been considered a safe NDP seat since 1995.

The NDP's Crothers hopes to fill the shoes of retiring NDP MLA Bonnie Korzeniowski, who was popular in the constituency. Crothers, an adult literacy teacher, has some name recognition following a run for city council last year, losing to St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, also a Conservative.

The Tories have a steep hill to climb in St. James. Korzeniowski won by 1,900 votes, a 25 per cent margin of victory, plus the riding's new provincial boundaries may favour the NDP.

St. James lost some territory on the west side, including polls around 17 Wing that voted Tory in 2007, despite Korzeniowski's public support for the military.

And the riding picked up a few streets in Minto, east of the Polo Park area, that are typically more left-leaning.

But Gillingham, who's been door-knocking for well over a year, said he hasn't noticed a chillier response at the doors there.

"We're getting good reception all through the riding," said the ordained minister.

Police officer Gerard Allard is running for the Liberals, one of his party's strongest candidates, and the Greens are fielding Trevor Vandale.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2011 A4

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