February 23, 2019

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Tory incumbent says NDP is the real competition, not the Grits

Charleswood-Assiniboia-Headingley MP, Steven Fletcher meets with residents and supporters in the Courts of St. James tea room on Thursday morning.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Charleswood-Assiniboia-Headingley MP, Steven Fletcher meets with residents and supporters in the Courts of St. James tea room on Thursday morning.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/10/2015 (1233 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Conservative candidate Steven Fletcher says he doesn’t think the Liberals will come in second in his riding, let alone oust him as the MP.

As the representative for the riding since 2004, Fletcher (Charleswood-St. James-Headingley) scoffed at assertions by Liberal candidate Doug Eyolfson’s campaign team that the riding is in play and Eyolfson could be the victor on Oct. 19.

“I still maintain that the NDP are the main competition, they were the main competition in the last election and I think they’ll be the main competition in this election,” Fletcher said Thursday after hosting a campaign event in St. James.

Fletcher, a quadriplegic, made a name for himself in Ottawa as a champion of right to die, introducing two bills to legalize physician-assisted death in opposition to the Conservative party.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/10/2015 (1233 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Conservative candidate Steven Fletcher says he doesn’t think the Liberals will come in second in his riding, let alone oust him as the MP.

As the representative for the riding since 2004, Fletcher (Charleswood-St. James-Headingley) scoffed at assertions by Liberal candidate Doug Eyolfson’s campaign team that the riding is in play and Eyolfson could be the victor on Oct. 19.

"I still maintain that the NDP are the main competition, they were the main competition in the last election and I think they’ll be the main competition in this election," Fletcher said Thursday after hosting a campaign event in St. James.

Fletcher, a quadriplegic, made a name for himself in Ottawa as a champion of right to die, introducing two bills to legalize physician-assisted death in opposition to the Conservative party.

"The Liberal leader is not coming out very well with any substance or credibility and trying to out left the NDP does not go over well in this working class, middle class community."

The riding has been a Conservative stronghold since 2004, the first election in which the NDP and Liberals had to face off against a united Conservative party. In a surprise upset, Fletcher beat Liberal candidate Glen Murray, the former mayor of Winnipeg, ending the Liberals’ hold on the riding.

However, Eyolfson said it’s time for another upset in the riding.

There are a few factors on his side this election, Eyolfson explained, including Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s current rise in the polls, the decision by the NDP to force candidate Stefan Jonasson off the ballot due to a social media gaffe, and, on a more localized scale, what he is hearing at the doors.

"With the unfortunate events of a few weeks ago there has been a lot of people who see me as the best chance to win this seat away from the Conservatives," Eyolfson said. "A lot of people who said they would vote NDP said they are going to vote for me."

The rookie politician took a leave of absence from his job as an emergency room doctor at Health Sciences Centre in May and has been campaigning ever since. He said it was his time in the health care system that spurred him into entering the political realm, after he saw social issues he knew couldn’t be fixed with a trip to the hospital.

Tom Paulley, a retired corrections officer, took over for Jonasson as the NDP candidate, to take on Fletcher for a second time. In 2011, Paulley finished with 20 per cent of the vote.

A combined NDP, Liberal and Green vote still wouldn’t have beat the whopping 57 per cent of the vote Fletcher took in the election.

Kevin Nichols, a safety technician with the City of Winnipeg, is running in the riding for the Green party.

Statistically, the riding has one of the highest senior populations in Winnipeg, with almost 20 per cent of the population over the age of 65. It has the highest median age in the city at 44.

Historically, it is an expansive riding made up of various former rural municipalities that amalgamated into Winnipeg.

"So that inertia is still there 40 years on, so there are different characteristics around the riding, but at the end of the day it is a riding that has a lot of seniors, a lot of young families and relative to other ridings, according to Stats Canada, it is actually a very prosperous riding," Fletcher said when asked to described the riding he has served for over a decade.

Pollster Curtis Brown of Probe Research said the area is unlikely to shed its Conservative stripes any time soon.

"If you look at the boundaries of it and what it includes, those are some pretty solid Conservative areas," Brown said, noting St. James may be more friendly to the Liberals, but areas like Charleswood and Headingley favour Conservatives.

"They probably will make Steven Fletcher work a little harder than they have had to in the past few campaigns but it is not on the A-list of ridings that may go red in Manitoba."

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

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