Decision day for Thompson district voters
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On the eve of a byelection in Thompson, voters in Kirkfield Park learned they, too, are headed to the polls in the near future.
Progressive Conservative MLA Scott Fielding’s announcement Monday he will vacate his west Winnipeg riding seat within two weeks means another byelection is due by the end of the year.
On Tuesday, NDP candidate Eric Redhead and PC counterpart Charlotte Larocque will vie for the open seat in the sprawling northern district.
New Democrat MLA Danielle Adams was killed in a highway accident in December. The Legislative Assembly Act says a byelection must be held within 180 days after a seat vacancy occurs.
Redhead is the former chief of Shamattawa First Nation and was acting grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs when he announced his plan to run for the NDP in Thompson.
Larocque is a former Thompson Chamber of Commerce president, who ran for the Conservatives in the 2021 federal election.
Both candidates are well-known in Thompson which, historically, has been an NDP stronghold, said University of Manitoba political studies Prof. Christopher Adams.
“I would say that the region fits the profile of the NDP more strongly because it’s a public-service sector delivery point in Thompson,” Adams said. It has strong ties to unions and many Indigenous voters, he added.
“So those three factors come together that are more on the side of the NDP than than the conservatives.”
Tory Premier Heather Stefanson has not visited Thompson during the lead-up to the byelection but Health Minister Audrey Gordon has, meeting with health-care providers and service delivery organizations.
The state of health care and highways are the two top issues with voters in Thompson, said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. On Monday, he was on his way to Thompson.
“People in the North need a voice,” he said by phone from Ashern.
Unofficial byelection results will be reported on the Elections Manitoba website as they come in after polls close at 8 p.m. The official result and declaration of the winner will be announced June 14.
Vote counting machines will not be used in the Thompson byelection, Elections Manitoba spokesman Mike Ambrose said Monday.
The Elections Amendment Act that received royal assent June 1 permits the chief electoral officer to authorize the use of vote counting machines. The machines are not “voting machines” people use to register votes, and paper ballots will continue to be used.
The act states all other forms of voting, including via internet, remain prohibited. Depending on connectivity and related issues, manual counting of ballots will continue in some rural and remote regions as determined by the chief electoral officer, the act says.
The Thompson byelection will be Manitoba’s second this year.
Residents of Fort Whyte went to the polls in March to fill the seat vacated by former premier Brian Pallister, who resigned as MLA in October. PC candidate Obby Khan narrowly defeated Liberal counterpart Willard Reaves.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Updated on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 6:42 AM CDT: Adds photo