Voters head to advance polls in 2 Manitoba federal byelections

Voters started heading to the polling stations on Friday as advance voting opened for byelections the Winnipeg South Centre and Portage-Lisgar federal electoral districts.

Advance polls open in June 19 byelections in Winnipeg South Centre, Portage-Lisgar

An elderly woman with red sunglasses speaks into a microphone.
Annette Chatier says her top priorities in the Winnipeg South Centre byelection include health care and help to manage the cost of living. (Adam Yadaoui/Radio-Canada)

Voters started heading to polling stations on Friday as advance voting opened for byelections in two federal Manitoba electoral districts — one of which includes a federal party leader looking to win his party's first seat.

Winnipeg South Centre and Portage-Lisgar are among four federal ridings where advance polling is happening this weekend.

John Helston, who was one of the voters at the Fort Garry United Church in the Winnipeg South Centre byelection on Friday, said health care and financial issues are among his top priorities.

"Probably health is more important than the financial side for us, because we're in our later years of retirement," said Helston, who's in his 80s and has lived in the Fort Garry area in south Winnipeg since 1967.

"I think there's got to be some financial accountability for people, and that's why I'm voting the way I am."

A man in a red Toronto Blue Jays baseball caps speaks into a microphone.
John Helston says this byelection in Winnipeg South Centre, he's concerned mainly about health care as a senior. (Adam Yadaoui/Radio-Canada)

Annette Chatier agreed that health care was high on her list of issues as a voter. But she also wants to see more financial help for seniors with things like hearing aids, medication and groceries.

"We can't afford anything," Chatier said.

"Right now, we're fighting to either keep … a roof over our head or food in our fridge, or our medication. And it seems that this little bit of money they're giving us is one time only. That's not what we need — we need constant."

The Winnipeg South Centre seat has been vacant since the death of Liberal MP Jim Carr in December.

His son, Ben Carr, is running for the Liberals in the riding's byelection. Among the candidates he faces are educator Doug Hemmerling, running for the Green Party; clinical psychologist Julia Riddell, running for the NDP; and Damir Stipanovic, an air traffic controller and member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve who is running for the Conservatives.

The list of candidates in the byelection is unusually long, with more than 40 independents in the mix — many of whom are part of the "Longest Ballot" initiative, a grassroots campaign that calls for changes to the first-past-the-post voting system.

Yellow Elections Canada signs sit outside and on the doors of a red brick church building.
The Fort Garry United Church is an advance polling station for the Winnipeg South Centre riding in the current federal byelection. (Adam Yadaoui/Radio-Canada)

Advance polling also opened for voters in Manitoba's Portage-Lisgar district on Friday, where five candidates are running to fill the set left open when former interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen resigned her seat in the House of Commons in February.

Branden Leslie is running to hold the seat for the Conservative Party.

He faces People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, the Green Party's Nicolas Geddert, Kerry Smith for the Liberals and the NDP's Lisa Tessier-Burch.

Advance voting in those ridings continues through Monday. Election day is scheduled for June 19.

More information is available on Elections Canada's website.