VOTERS in Winnipeg North deserve a "straight-up" campaign free from attempts to split the Filipino vote, said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff Sunday.

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VOTERS in Winnipeg North deserve a "straight-up" campaign free from attempts to split the Filipino vote, said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff Sunday.

Ignatieff, who was in town stumping for Winnipeg North candidate Kevin Lamoureux Sunday, was asked about speculation the Tories are attempting to siphon off some of Lamoureux's Filipino support.

"Let's have a straight-up fight," he said. "Everything else is a bunch of games."

The Filipino vote, key to any victory in the city's northwest quadrant, is up for grabs since the federal Conservatives decided at the last minute to run Julie Javier, a prominent Filipina.

Javier could split the Filipino vote and deny the Liberals a much-needed seat in the House of Commons. The strategy could potentially benefit NDP candidate Kevin Chief.

But Lamoureux said he's confident his Filipino supporters will be there for him later this month as they have been in past elections. Lamoureux said his get-out-the-vote machine is his top priority.

During his brief visit, Ignatieff attended a celebration of Polish independence at the Polish Fraternal Aid Society of St. John Cantius on Mountain Avenue, where about 60 people were gathered.

"You'll be relieved to know I am not going to make a political speech," said Ignatieff, who extolled the virtues of Polish poetry and the country's historic battles against tyranny.

Sunday marked Ignatieff's fourth visit to the riding in three months. Toronto Centre MP and former Ontario premier Bob Rae has also stumped for Lamoureux in recent days, as has Liberal MP and former hockey great Ken Dryden.

That points to a hot byelection battle to fill the seat vacated by longtime NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis last spring.

Last month, NDP Leader Jack Layton dropped by to stump for Chief, his second visit since the campaign began unofficially over the summer.

And, last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit to Javier's McPhillips Street campaign office. Harper didn't alert the media, so the visit flew under the radar.

Javier, a nurse who replaced Ray Larkin late in the game as the party's choice, has focused her campaign almost exclusively on crime.

She has made a surprisingly big impact in a riding known to favour the left, with plenty of signs and a high profile campaign office on McPhillips Street.

But she has been wary of the media. Javier wasn't available for comment Sunday and she has failed to respond to several requests for an interview over the last several weeks.

The byelection, along with one in Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette to replace former Tory MP Inky Mark, takes place Nov. 29.

Winnipeg North candidates' debate


When: Tuesday, 7 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Burrows Resource Centre at 1100 College Ave.