Kirkfield Park byelection date set
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After what was probably the most important throne speech for a Tory government trying to hang onto power, the province quietly announced a Dec. 13 byelection in Kirkfield Park.
While it was required to call the byelection by that date — following the June resignation of Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Scott Fielding — the timing Tuesday afternoon seemed odd, one political observer says.
“It is quite surprising that the writ was dropped on the same day another major event took place — the speech from the throne,” University of Winnipeg political science Prof. Felix Mathieu said.
“That being said, the speech from the throne does provide the government with a certain political momentum, which in turn can help the Progressive Conservatives promote their brand and candidate in the next few weeks leading to the byelection.”
On Monday night, the PCs formally announced former city councillor and recent mayoral candidate Kevin Klein (who was unopposed for the nomination) will carry their banner in the west Winnipeg byelection. He will face Logan Oxenham of the NDP, Dennis Bayomi of the Green party, and Rhonda Nichol with the Liberals.
The NDP issued a statement suggesting the government dropped the writ late on a busy news day to avoid drawing attention to it.
“We know why the PCs buried their byelection call: because they’re worried about their candidate’s failed record and failed mayoral campaign,” it said. “Kevin Klein is looking for a job, but our candidate, Logan Oxenham, is looking to fix health care at the Grace Hospital and freeze Hydro bills to give the average family a break.”
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont offered a different theory.
“The PCs have delayed the election until the last second so they could spend the maximum amount of time making promises on the public dime with an unlimited budget,” he said in an email, touting Nichol’s years of nursing experience.
“If you care about old-fashioned ideas like free and fair elections, it’s disappointing but hardly surprising.”
Mathieu thought it was neither.
“In the end, I believe the PCs know they have missed on some opportunities this fall to have their ideas discussed in the public sphere, and so they are trying to build a new momentum by announcing the byelection in Kirkfield Park the same day as the speech from the throne was presented.”
Elections Manitoba said advance voting will be held Dec. 3-10.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.