Manitoba byelection called in St. Boniface, riding of former NDP premier Greg Selinger
Candidates include Liberal Dougald Lamont, New Democrat Blandine Tona, Progressive Conservative Mamadou Ka
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister called a byelection Tuesday for the St. Boniface seat in Winnipeg — a long-time NDP stronghold that the Liberals hope to steal with their new leader.
The July 17 vote will fill a seat that has been vacant since former NDP premier Greg Selinger resigned in March. Selinger held the constituency with strong voter support since 1999, although the area voted Liberal prior to that and is represented federally by the Liberals.
One political analyst said the mid-summer contest is likely to attract low voter turnout and the Opposition NDP, represented by Blandine Tona, likely has an edge.
"The NDP, with an organized labour workforce and some core supporters in the constituency from the days of Greg Selinger ... should have an advantage on the organizational level," said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba.
The Liberals have the most to gain in the byelection. Dougald Lamont, elected party leader last year, is running and a win would give the Liberals a fourth legislature seat — enough for official party status and the funding that comes with it.
"That would gain them some resources, that would give them some profile," Thomas said.
The Progressive Conservatives are being represented by Mamadou Ka, who ran for the seat in the last election and finished second behind Selinger with 25 per cent of the vote.
The Green Party, which garnered 12 per cent of the vote in 2016, has nominated Francoise Therrien Vrignon this time.
Both the Liberals and NDP are working to show voters they have rebounded from the 2016 election, Thomas said.
The NDP won a byelection in the Winnipeg constituency of Point Douglas — a party stronghold — last year, but it was by the slimmest margin in that seat in decades. The party has struggled to raise money and only paid off its election debt at the end of last year.
The Liberals also face financial hurdles and recently saw five key members resign, including the party president, fundraising director and election readiness chairperson.
The byelection outcome will have little or no effect on the Tory majority in the legislature. The governing party has 39 seats, the NDP has 12, the Liberals have three and there are two Independents.