Liberal leader Rana Bokhari campaigns in Brandon, a 'strong Conservative riding'

In Brandon — what political columnist Deveryn Ross calls a "strong Conservative riding," — Manitoba's Liberal leader, Rana Bokhari, is trying to re-engage people she says were left out by other parties.

On Sunday she was at Brandon's East End Community Centre to launch Vanessa Hamilton's campaign

Rana Bokhari, Manitoba Liberal leader, and Vanessa Hamilton, Brandon East candidate, hug in Brandon, Man. on Sunday, where Hamilton launched her campaign leading up to the 41st provincial election in April. (CBC)

In Brandon — what political columnist Deveryn Ross calls a "strong Conservative riding," — Manitoba's Liberal leader, Rana Bokhari, is trying to re-engage people she says were left out by other parties.

"There's so many people for so long that they've just felt so ignored and so not a part of those really important discussions that we need to have … as a community to move forward," she said.

And Vanessa Hamilton, Liberal candidate for Brandon East, is ready to have those conversations, according to Bokhari.

On Sunday, the two women were at the East End Community Centre in Brandon to launch Hamilton's campaign leading up to April's election.

Hamilton said she believes the NDP has "lost their way," and grassroots initiatives, including door-knocking and communicating with residents, is the way to restore the relationship between community and leader.

Brandon East Liberal candidate Vanessa Hamilton said her campaign is grassroots in a nature, and involves knocking on doors and communicating with residents in her ward. (CBC)

"The NDP candidate's been around since 1999 but I don't believe he's resonating with residents," she said. 

"I believe he has stuck by the leader of the NDP … and he hasn't stuck by the residents of Brandon East."

Meanwhile, Ross, who lives in Brandon and writes political columns for the Winnipeg Free Press and the Westman Journal, said the riding could be Liberal if it wasn't for the surrounding rural areas.

Political columnist Deveryn Ross calls Brandon, Man. a "strong Conservative riding." He said the riding could be Liberal if it wasn't for the surrounding rural areas. (CBC)

"The impact of the rural votes being universally Conservative makes this, it's a strong Conservative riding at the moment," he said on Sunday.

"Provincially … the popularity of Justin Trudeau is responsible somewhat for the growth in popularity of the Liberals."

Ross said another factor that could help Bokhari and her team is what he calls growing fatigue with the provincial NDP.

Common ground

If there's one thing the Liberals and Brandon West incumbent MLA Reg Helwer of the PC party have in common, it's the belief that Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger must go.

"This next election is going to be about trust," Helwer said, adding that people he's spoken to in his riding "don't trust Selinger."

While the Liberals have gained popularity in the polls, he said, it doesn't mean a sure win.

"Federal votes don't always translate to provincial so I think it depends on who they have as a candidate and how hard they work," he said.

So far, there's no Liberal candidate in Brandon West.

The 41st Manitoba provincial election is scheduled for April 19.

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