Manitoba NDP reaching out to Liberal voters
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Manitoba’s NDP is targeting Liberal voters as the early polls open for Kirkfield Park, an often Progressive Conservative riding.
The PCs, Liberals, NDP and Green Party are all vying for the seat once filled by Scott Fielding, a PC and former finance minister.
“Let’s be realistic — Manitoba NDP is the only party that has the chance to unseat the PCs in the general election next year,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said at a news conference the party held Sunday.
He stood by Logan Oxenham, the New Democrats’ nominee, and several voters who proclaimed switching their vote from other parties to orange.
Kinew took swipes at the Liberals and Green Party, saying the former’s best shot is to win official party status in the provincial election, while the latter’s is to win a seat.
“While (the Liberals) bring forward interesting ideas… we have somebody who’s ready to join a team that is prepared to take government in Manitoba,” Kinew said, suggesting Oxenham.
Kinew didn’t say yes or no when a reporter asked if he worried a split Kirkfield Park vote would lead to a PC victory.
Former Winnipeg city councillor Kevin Klein is the conservative candidate. The area he once represented, Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, overlaps with Kirkfield Park.
“I don’t think there’s too many people in Kirkfield Park or anywhere in Manitoba who wake up and think the provincial government is doing a good job,” Kinew said.
Oxenham said he feels there’s a “sense of urgency” to see a non-PC member elected. He’s campaigning on helping fix the healthcare system, including expanding hours at Grace Hospital’s ACCESS centre.
“That’s an actual step we can take right away,” Oxenham said.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said it’s “basically voter suppression” to tout the only viable option as NDP.
“(It’s) anti-democratic,” he said. “This is a campaign where Rhonda Nichol and the Liberals can win.”
Nichol has been a nurse for three decades and has spent part of her career in the Grace Hospital, Lamont noted. She’s currently a CancerCare Manitoba research nurse.
“She’s the only one with any real expertise in healthcare,” he said. “The Grace Hospital was a disaster under the NDP as well.”
Neither Nichol nor Klein responded to interview requests by print deadline.
Laurel Daman showed her support for the NDP at Sunday’s news conference. The Kirkfield Park resident said she’s voting strategically.
“Splitting the vote here has led us to have successive Conservative representation,” Daman said. “I’m really hoping that people vote strategically instead of along the party lines that they always have.”
She’s voted Liberal in the past, she said. She’s looking for a change in government because “the Grace Hospital is important, and healthcare is terrible.”
Advance voting for Kirkfield Park began Saturday and ends Dec. 10.
Progressive Conservatives typically lead the area, with the exception of the NDP’s Sharon Blady, who held the seat between 2007 and 2016.
Dennis Bayomi represents the Green Party in the race. The byelection date is Dec. 13.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.