May 31, 2020

25° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Winnipeg Free Press


Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Lamont could shake up Manitoba politics


Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/7/2018 (683 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a Tory, a Grit, a Dipper or a Green, Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont’s victory in the St. Boniface byelection is a positive development.

The usual partisan wrangling aside, Mr. Lamont’s convincing win on Tuesday is one of the most constructive things to happen to Manitoba politics in some time.

At present, the level of policy debate and quality of political leadership on display at the Manitoba legislature both leave a lot to be desired.

Premier Brian Pallister continues to be mostly either reticent or truculent as his majority Progressive Conservative government attempts to wrestle the province’s finances under control. When he is not dismissing any and all concerns raised by the opposition, he is displaying a tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

It might be possible to hold Mr. Pallister to account if the New Democrats, the official Opposition, were not spending the majority of their time battling their own demons. From the trouncing they received in the 2016 provincial election under embattled leader Greg Selinger to the expulsion of MLA Mohinder Saran for harassment to the crippling baggage of sexual harassment allegations against former cabinet minister Stan Struthers, it has hardly been a golden age in NDP politics. Add in current leader Wab Kinew’s own personal travails — most notably past allegations of domestic violence that show no sign of going away — and you have a party still searching for solid ground.

Into this atmosphere of dysfunction we bring Mr. Lamont, a career Liberal supporter and staffer whose most notable achievements before this week were an earlier failed attempt to win a seat in the legislature and another, earlier bid to lead the Manitoba Liberals. That is not a resumé that inspires confidence, but then again, Mr. Lamont is not entering an arena that currently boasts a particularly high bar.

Still, he has much to prove. Mr. Lamont will have to show he is capable of debate, and of devising new ideas and strategies to address the province’s foremost problems. For the time being, however, his mere presence in the legislature is to the benefit of all Manitobans.

If voters in this province need anything, it’s more choice. For more than a quarter-century, Manitobans have had only the PCs and NDP as practical ballot-box options, due in large part to the Liberals’ failure, over that period, to mount a viable challenge. That era could, however, be coming to an end.

Mr. Lamont’s victory gives the Liberals official party status, which means more office space and more money to mount an opposition. The Grits will get more questions in question period, and more attention from political reporters. What they say and do is automatically more newsworthy now than it was before the byelection.

Should Mr. Lamont succeed in demonstrating effective opposition and generating an inventory of new ideas, he could be embraced by voters as a leader with the potential to shake up the moribund politics that have long gripped the province.

Winning the byelection does not ensure Mr. Lamont will succeed in his new endeavour. But for provincial Liberals, it does open the door of opportunity to its widest point since the heady days of former leader Sharon Carstairs.

All Mr. Lamont need do is walk through that door. And if, in so doing, he is able to reinvigorate provincial politics by offering voters a viable third option, he will be doing all Manitobans a favour.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.