Tory candidate keeps low profile in Provencher byelection
Conservatives’ Ted Falk appears to be favourite in southern Manitoba riding
Two of four federal byelections scheduled to take place Monday are in southern Manitoba ridings.
While Brandon-Souris byelection has been abuzz with activity, with everything from attack ads to personally-signed letters from the Prime Minister, the Provencher byelection has been much quieter.
The Conservatives have a significant lead according to some polls of decided voters. However, Conservative candidate Ted Falk has flown under the radar until this week.
Falk has not participated in a single public debate, but polls show he is the favourite to win.
“It’s kind of slack because most of the area is Conservative-minded,” said Steinbach resident Frank Toews.
But the NDP says Falk is hiding.
“Our schedules are just as busy, and as a resident of the area, I’m also insulted,” said Natalie Courcelles Beaudry, the NDP candidate.
But University of Manitoba politics assistant professor Royce Koop said the strategy isn’t meant as an insult.
“It ensures there’s not going to be any mess-ups on the part of the candidates,” said Koop.
Falk hasn't been entirely quiet on the campaign trail. Recently, Falk publicly wondered to a local reporter whether or not a gay teen had staged a bullying incident for TV cameras. The teen, Evan Wiens, spoke out against Falk's remarks and said he wanted an apology.
Meanwhile, both the federal leaders for the NDP and Liberals have stopped in the riding to campaign. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not.
Harper said during a media event in Winnipeg on Friday that Prime Ministers typically do not campaign in byelections.
Those remarks came despite a letter personally signed by the Prime Minister being distributed to Brandon-Souris residents, which urged voters to pick Conservative candidate Larry Maguire. Letters from Harper were not distributed in Provencher.
Provencher Liberal candidate Terry Hayward said he hopes local voters will keep national politics in mind and consider the federal senate scandal when voting.
“What we’re going to be doing is sending a strong message to Mr. Harper that things have to improve. This is not the government we were promised two years ago,” said Hayward.
CBC made numerous attempts to get an interview with Falk and finally tracked him down at a public BBQ on Wednesday but were only allowed to ask a few questions before being asked to leave.
“We’re busy. We’re busy trying to get the message out to our constituents,” said Falk. “We think we’ve done a good job, and on Monday, we’ll find out.”
Manitobans in Provencher head to the polls on Monday.