Parties & Leaders
The Manitoba New Democratic Party: Gary Doer
CBC Online News | Updated April 3, 2007
Long the underdog of the Manitoba political scene, Gary Doer has been riding high on a wave of popularity since 2003, when he was re-elected to a second term as premier with 49.9 per cent of the popular vote – the largest percentage since 1915.
Doer waited a long time to sit in the premier's chair.
After Doer had done a brief stint as urban affairs minister in the Howard Pawley government, starting in 1986, his party went to the polls following a non-confidence vote. Elected party leader before that vote in 1988, he lost the next three elections – 1988, 1990 and 1995.
But the smooth, well-dressed former union leader hung on and was victorious on his fourth outing in 1999, defeating the Tories after their decade in power by winning a majority government of 32 seats.
Doer's NDP has campaigned hard on health care in each of the last two successful elections, a message that has resounded with voters.—His government has faced criticism for failing to end "hallway medicine," but continues to counter these complaints by recalling the previous Conservative administration’s record of cuts to health care.
Doer's government has also been in the hot-seat for months over its role, or lack thereof, in the troubles of the Crocus Investment Fund, which collapsed in 2005, costing some 34,000 Manitobans millions of dollars.
Opposition Conservatives and Liberals have hammered the government on the issue, repeatedly threatening to halt legislative business or delay budgets until a public inquiry is called.
This time around, Doer might not be able to count on such a tidal wave of popularity to carry the party through.—A Probe Research poll in early March put the NDP and Conservatives in a dead-heat race for the support of Manitoba voters.
The NDP and Tories were in a statistical tie, the poll suggested, each with 40 per cent of decided and leaning voters.
Come election day, Doer's hold on power may lie in the hands of the one-fifth of Manitobans who said they were as-yet undecided – and the rural voters who carried the party to power in 1999.
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Born: March 31, 1948 in Winnipeg
Education: Dropped out of university
Family: Wife Ginny Devine, a pollster; two daughters
Life before politics: Worked as a guard at the youth detention center. President of the Manitoba Government Employees’ Union.
Politics: Elected as MLA for Concordia in 1986, made urban affairs minister in Howard Pawley’s government. Won NDP leadership in 1988. Lost three elections to Tory Gary Filmon (1988, 1990, 1995) before winning a majority government in 1999.
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