Manitoba political leaders nervous, optimistic as votes cast

Manitobans are now choosing who will represent them in the Manitoba legislature for the next four years, and the leaders of the province's main political parties are both excited and nervous.

Voters in Manitoba's 41st general election have until 8 p.m. to cast a ballot

Party leaders cast votes

CBC News: Winnipeg at 6:00

5 years ago
Manitoba's political party leaders cast votes, talk about being nervous, optimistic. 1:12

Manitobans are now choosing who will represent them in the Manitoba legislature for the next four years, and the leaders of the province's main political parties are both excited and nervous.

"I'm very nervous. I'm nervous, I'm excited but I'm also proud of where we've come and I think that for someone to just start out and to just make it to this day I think it's, you know, I'm proud of that part," said rookie Liberal Party Leader Rana Bokhari, who was the first leader to vote on Tuesday morning.

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari votes Tuesday morning. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)
Bokhari, who is facing a tight race in Winnipeg's Fort Rouge riding, says she has been campaigning for two years since becoming leader and is hoping to improve on the single seat the party had before the legislature was dissolved for the election.

Her party was riding high in early polls but has since slipped behind the NDP, which is struggling to hold onto its 16-year run of being in government.

Polls have shown the party lagging 20 points or more behind that for the Opposition Progressive Conservatives.

NDP Leader Greg Selinger poses as he votes Tuesday morning. (Sylvain Bascaron/CBC)
Despite that, NDP Leader Greg Selinger appeared upbeat as he voted in his St. Boniface neighbourhood, still keeping his eye on another win.

"It's all about electing people today. The number we would like is a majority government," he said when asked whether he has set himself a minimum number of seats in order to stay on as leader.

"We've put a very positive program in front of Manitobans."

Green Party leader James Beddome votes Tuesday morning. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)
Selinger was asked, after casting his ballot, whether he has reflected on the last two years, which saw an internal coup that he barely survived.

"When you do have your moments, you always do reflections, there's no question about it. But the task at hand is to work for the people and to make sure that we mobilize people to the polls," he said.

"There's lots of time for reflection, but today is a day of rolling up our sleeves and making sure we encourage and assist as many people as possible to vote."

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister checks in while voting in one of the advance polls last week. (CBC)
Once that is done, then he can look back, he said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister voted last week in advance polls. He spent Tuesday morning with friends in Portage la Prairie then planned to return to Winnipeg to spend the afternoon with his family.

Green Party Leader James Beddome, whose performance was hailed in a recent leaders' debate, was also hopeful today.

"I'm feeling wonderful, I'm really excited, like the reaction at the door, especially since the debate has been really amazing and wonderful, letting the riding know that the Greens have a real shot to win, not just in my own riding, but hopefully in a couple of other ridings," he said.

Bring the kids: Election Manitoba

This year, Elections Manitoba is encouraging voters to bring their children along for the experience, as part of a new program called Citizen Next.

"We've distributed information to kindergarten to Grade 6 [students] encouraging parents and children to talk about democracy, get an understanding of the electoral process and if you bring your child with you to vote, they'll get an official 'future voter' sticker and a certificate that allows them to say why they will vote when they are 18," says Alison Mitchell, manager of communications and public information with Elections Manitoba.

"The voting place is a place for families."

Polls opened at 7 a.m. for the province's 41st general election and voters have until 8 p.m. to cast a ballot.

Many polling stations in Winnipeg were reportedly slow during the morning but Mitchell said that's typical.

"We know that after work is the busiest time, so it will definitely get busier," she said.

Over at the Crescentwood Community Centre on Corydon Avenue, Sally Downes, was first in line to make her mark at 7 a.m. But she wasn't thrilled about her options or how the campaigns were run.

"I think I'm disheartened with, I think all the leaders, quite frankly," she said.

"I know there's been a lot of reference to U.S.–style politics. Possibly, there's some of that sort of style that we're seeing creep in."