Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Saturday, October 30, 2010
The Battle for Winnipeg North Part 1
The battle of Winnipeg North has begun in earnest. Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff were both in town to promote their candidates. Kevin Chief was selected by 800 NDP members to be their candidate. Around 1000 Liberal members choice Kevin Lamoureux as their candidate.
Traditionally, the NDP have claimed this riding very regularly. However, the provincial NDP have been in place for some time in a dynamic similar to the 1980s. The NDP push into civic politics this year was not very successful.
The Liberals have leaped from 100 memberships in the riding to 2,300. Lamoureux is a different sort of animal that the NDP is facing. There is perhaps no one in the province of Manitoba with a better constituency presence on the ground. He literally has taken a page from the NDP's most successful organizational efforts and adopted it for his own and has routinely defeated NDP candidates with it.
The NDP has selected a great candidate in Kevin Chief but he will need experienced organizers on the ground to get the vote out for him. Voter turnout is poor in the riding. Historically, the riding along with Churchill and Winnipeg North Center have the poorest voter turn-outs in Canada. He is an educator at the University of Winnipeg.
The riding's make-up is a large grouping of aboriginal, Filipino and Ukrainian. Interestingly, Lamoureux is none of those. The NDP candidate is aboriginal, the Conservative candidate Julie Javier is Filipino.
Javier is a last minute replacement for Ray Larkin who is not running. He is the father of Marnie Larkin, chief campaign organizer for Sam Katz. Javier, a Filipino immigrant, nurse and officer in a Filipino organization is likely hoping to capitalize on the very large gains in Conservative support in the riding. In the last election, Liberal support collapsed.
Rounding out the candidates is Pirate Party of Canada candidate Jeff Coleman who is a resident of the riding and leader of the 600 member Manitoba chapter of Fair Copyright For Canada. He is a business owner and community activist.
The Green Party had a spike in their support in the riding as well. Their candidate John Harvie is a resident of the riding. He is also a business owner and writer.
With the defeat of Judy Wasylycia-Leis in the mayoral race, it will be curious to see if she goes door to door with Chief to rally support. Or will he politely limit her involvement if she offers it to establish himself as his own man?
I will try to cover what I know about the race in the next days and weeks.
In the interests of disclosure, I was on the executive of the University of Winnipeg Liberals when Kevin Lamoureux was there. I worked on his leadership campaign several years ago.
At present, I don't have any Liberal membership although I donate to the federal Liberals. I am thinking of re-upping my memberships although given my work schedule won't be campaigning in this byelection. I am a centrist by disposition and have found that I generally fall within Liberal thinking as a result.
In the interests of honesty, I believe that Winnipeg North Center will be extremely hard for the Liberals to win. However, I do know that no one can predict byelections as easily as they do national elections. The focus is truly and quite rightly on the individual candidates during a byelection.
With that in mind, expect an interesting campaign and many people won't know the hearts and minds of the people except if they are right on the ground at a door to door level. And even then, will those supporting a particular candidate show up to vote?