December 10, 2019

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Indigenous voters potentially key in local ridings

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Recent polls suggest Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the Liberal candidate for Winnipeg Centre, is in for a fight against NDP candidate Leah Gazan. </p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Recent polls suggest Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the Liberal candidate for Winnipeg Centre, is in for a fight against NDP candidate Leah Gazan.

OTTAWA — Indigenous voters could decide four Manitoba ridings in next week’s federal election, the Assembly of First Nations says.

In an analysis released last week, the AFN analyzed the margin of victory in the 2015 election for each riding, and compared it with the number of voters who identified as First Nations in the 2016 census.

The riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski was won by 912 votes in 2015, but has 34,855 eligible voters who identify as First Nations. Meanwhile, Elmwood-Transcona counts 2,650 First Nations people over 18, and was won by just 61 votes in 2015.

The two other Manitoba ridings in the AFN’s sights have a smaller gap between the number of First Nations voters and the number of ballots that decided the vote last time.

Kildonan-St. Paul was won by 1,239 votes and has 1,860 First Nations voters.

Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa counts 8,345 First Nations adults and was won by 7,000 votes.

Canadians go to the polls Oct. 21.

The analysis did not include the riding of Winnipeg Centre, despite 18.5 per cent of the riding identifying as Indigenous, most of which were First Nations. That’s likely because Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette won his seat in 2015 with almost double the votes for NDP incumbent Pat Martin.

Recent polls suggest Ouellette is in for a fight against NDP candidate Leah Gazan.

The AFN also noted there are 62 Indigenous candidates in this election, compared with 54 recorded in the 2015 vote. In Manitoba’s 14 ridings, this includes four NDP candidates, three Liberals, two each for the Greens and Tories and one People’s party candidate.

Advocacy groups such as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation have been mobilizing Indigenous voters to cast a ballot this month, and holding debates on issues relevant to their communities.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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