December 9, 2019

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Province heads to the polls on Sept. 10, ending months of speculation

After months of speculation about an early provincial election, Premier Brian Pallister has made it official, announcing a Sept. 10 vote.

Surrounded by more than 40 Progressive Conservative MLAs and candidates at an outdoor event south of the Legislative Building on Wednesday, Pallister said his government has accomplished most of what it had set out to do and it was time to seek a fresh mandate.

"We've got over 90 per cent of the things we ran on done or in major progress right now," he said. "Manitobans have to decide if the course of action we're going to be outlining in the next few weeks is where they want to go or not."

Pallister said Manitoba continues to face challenges, including high poverty and crime rates, and too many Manitobans have very little discretionary income once they pay their bills every month. But he said the Progressive Conservatives are lowering taxes, tackling the deficit and fixing services such as health care.

He bragged that the dozens of Tories standing behind him at the press conference — including eight women occupying prominent positions in the front row beside him — represented "the best slate of candidates ever presented to the people of Manitoba."

He said the Opposition NDP lacks ideas and would take the province back to a time of higher debt and higher taxes.

"Manitobans know that choosing Wab Kinew and the NDP would be an enormous risk to take," he said.

While Pallister announced the election date on Wednesday, the campaign has yet to officially begin. That will occur sometime in early August. Depending on the date of the writ drop, the campaign will be between 28 and 34 days long.


General election campaign periods and voter turnout

Does a summer election campaign affect voter turnout? In recent elections, summer campaigns haven’t kept Manitobans away from the polls.

Jan.

April

Aug.

Nov.

Turnout

69%

1990

1995

69%

1999

68%

54%

2003

57%

2007

2011

56%

2016

57%

Summer

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press, Source: Free Press archives, Elections Manitoba

General election campaign periods and voter turnout

Does a summer election campaign affect voter turnout? In recent elections, summer campaigns haven’t kept Manitobans away from the polls.

Jan.

April

July

Oct.

Turnout

69%

1990

1995

69%

1999

68%

54%

2003

57%

2007

2011

56%

2016

57%

Summer

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press, Source: Free Press archives, Elections Manitoba

General election campaign periods and voter turnout

Does a summer election campaign affect voter turnout? In recent elections, summer campaigns haven’t kept Manitobans away from the polls.

Jan.

April

July

Oct.

Turnout

69%

1990

1995

69%

1999

68%

54%

2003

57%

2007

2011

56%

2016

57%

Summer

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press, Source: Free Press archives, Elections Manitoba


 

Kinew left no doubt that the NDP will focus much of its attention on health care — and specifically the government's controversial decision to consolidate Winnipeg's six hospital emergency rooms into three by the end of September.

"We know why Pallister is calling this early election. He closed one emergency room (at Concordia Hospital) this month, and it caused complete chaos across the health care system," Kinew said.

"(Pallister) knows that when he closes another ER (Seven Oaks Hospital's ER is slated to become an urgent care centre in September) it's going to cause an even worse disaster in health care. And he will not have a chance at being re-elected next year..."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Premier Brian Pallister walks away after announcing a September election date in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building with his cabinet Wednesday.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Premier Brian Pallister walks away after announcing a September election date in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building with his cabinet Wednesday.

Kinew said the NDP is ready for the campaign and is well on its way to having candidates in place in all 57 constituencies. He said the party will also focus on job creation and making living costs affordable for Manitobans.

He promised to release "a comprehensive, fully costed platform" during the campaign.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Manitobans will have the choice of supporting one of the "tired old parties" or a party (his) that "wants to do things differently."

Leader of the Manitoba NDP Wab Kinew

SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Leader of the Manitoba NDP Wab Kinew

Like Kinew, Lamont suggested that the PCs are vulnerable in Winnipeg on the issue of health care, which he said is "in absolute chaos," pointing to St. Boniface Hospital having to turn away patients from its emergency room last week due to a shortage of beds.

Opposition parties have been critical of Pallister's decision to hold an election this year instead of waiting until Oct. 6, 2020, the fixed date for a provincial election under Manitoba law.

"The fact that we're going to be having an election when this government should be governing says a lot about this premier's priorities," Lamont said. "This is an election that's convenient for him. It's all about him and it's not about getting things done or doing work for Manitobans."

Manitoba Liberal party leader Dougald Lamont

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Liberal party leader Dougald Lamont

Asked whether Manitobans might be concerned that the provincial government will be focused on the election — and not on issues that emerge as a result of its decision to overhaul Winnipeg's hospital system, Pallister said the Tories would maintain their focus on fixing the province's finances, repairing its services and rebuilding the economy.

"We're going to stay focused on that. We can walk and chew gum at the same time here," he said.

Pallister acknowledged that there have been challenges in transforming the hospital system, and he thanked frontline health workers "for their understanding and for their involvement and for their ideas" in getting through the difficult times so the system can be improved.

"We've demonstrated that we're willing to tackle the difficult issues. Change is not easy but it is necessary, especially when it was evident that we were failing Manitobans in terms of access to timely service," he said.

Attack ad revives Kinew's assault on cabbie

Click to Expand
FACEBOOK						</p>																	<p>A Tory Facebook ad, the first election-type attack ad noticed so far, focuses on Wab Kinew’s assault on a taxi driver. The ad targets women aged 25 and older who live in Winnipeg and uses audio from a CBC interview.						</p>
FACEBOOK

A Tory Facebook ad, the first election-type attack ad noticed so far, focuses on Wab Kinew’s assault on a taxi driver. The ad targets women aged 25 and older who live in Winnipeg and uses audio from a CBC interview.

Posted: 19/06/2019 5:21 PM

The NDP and its leader, Wab Kinew, shouldn't be surprised that the first attack ad by the province's Tory party focuses on his drunken assault of a taxi driver, a university political studies associate professor says.

Royce Koop, head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Political Studies, said the NDP leader would have been expecting this issue to be brought up both before and during an election campaign.

Read Full Story

Meanwhile, in his first time speaking with reporters since his trip to France earlier this month, Pallister defended his decision to skip the main D-Day commemoration event at Juno Beach on June 6.

While Pallister did not attend events on June 5 and 6, he was at Juno Beach on the 7th, after meeting the previous day with executives of French food and agribusiness giant Roquette.

Besides Pallister, two cabinet ministers and St. Norbert MLA Jon Reyes attended D-Day commemoration ceremonies.

The premier did not explain why he personally opted to attend a business meeting instead of representing Manitoba at the 75th anniversary of the D-Day troop landing, but he argued that his government demonstrated its support for veterans on the trip.

"And we most certainly did that better than any other jurisdiction in the country," he added.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read full biography

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