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Ed Schreyer: socialist or social democrat?

From Tory blue to NDP orange and back again, with scarcely a red Liberal in sight – that's been the alternating pattern in Manitoba elections since the 1950s. Manitobans seem to prefer stability in their governments but punish a government when it overstays its welcome. Both parties have gotten the boot for stoking the public's ire: the NDP for boosting auto insurance rates in 1988 and the Tories in 1999 for a vote-rigging scheme. From Hudson Bay to the Red River, CBC Archives goes to the polls.

What a roller-coaster ride for the NDP in Manitoba! After its leader resigned, the party was slated to choose a replacement at the end of June 1969. But a sudden provincial election call hastened the race, and Ed Schreyer won the leadership on June 7. With election day just 18 days away, Schreyer plunged into the campaign. In this CBC survey of the three leaders' campaign efforts, Schreyer assures Manitobans he's a social democrat, not a socialist. 
• Both the NDP and the Liberals in Manitoba had new leaders for the 1969 election. The Liberal leader, Robert (Bobby) Bend, had taken over the job that April after Gil Molgat resigned after eight years as leader.
• Premier and Progressive Conservative leader Walter Weir called the election just three years into his party's mandate. He had reason to be optimistic: the Tories had captured three of four seats in a February 1969 byelection.

• Ed Schreyer's political career began in 1958, when he ran as a member of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in the Manitoba riding of Brokenhead. He won, and at 22 he was the province's youngest MLA. He was re-elected in 1959 and 1962, by which time the CCF had become the NDP.
• Schreyer jumped to federal politics in 1965, becoming MP for the federal riding of Springfield. He resigned in 1969 to run for the provincial NDP leadership.

• In the Manitoba election of 1969, Weir's early call to the polls proved a costly gamble. The NDP won a minority government, capturing 28 seats to the Progressive Conservatives' 22 and the Liberals' five. One seat each went to a Social Credit candidate and an independent.
• A week after the election, Liberal member Larry Desjardins defected from the Liberals, sitting as a Liberal-Democrat before joining the NDP. This gave the party a scant majority with 29 seats.

• During its first four years in office, the NDP government moved to amalgamate the 12 municipalities that formed greater Winnipeg into a single government.
• Schreyer's government also introduced Autopac, Manitoba's public auto insurance program. The insurance industry opposed Autopac, and 10,000 Manitobans demonstrated against it at the provincial legislature, but the measure succeeded. As of 2006 Manitoba still has public auto insurance.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: June 21, 1969
Guest(s): Bobby Bend, Ed Schreyer, Walter Weir
Reporter: Colin Hoath
Duration: 1:31

Last updated: January 18, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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