Manitoba

Manitobans unlikely to punish Pallister for flouting fixed election date, poll suggests

Nearly half of Manitobans believe Premier Brian Pallister should've respected the fixed election law that would've sent voters to the polls in 2020, but it's unlikely to hurt him at the ballot box, a recent poll suggests.

49 per cent of those surveyed agree with the premier's rationale for early election call

Premier Brian Pallister has said the Manitoba Elections Act doesn't prevent a government from calling an early election date. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Nearly half of Manitobans believe Premier Brian Pallister should've respected the fixed election law that would've sent voters to the polls in 2020, but it's unlikely to hurt him at the ballot box, a recent poll suggests.

"It turns out Manitobans are not totally impressed with the idea of a vote that comes a whole year early," said Mary Agnes Welch, a partner at Probe Research, the company that conducted the poll.

"The flipside to that, though, is that they aren't so cranky about it that they're likely to punish the premier and the Progressive Conservatives for calling the election so early."

Forty-eight per cent of Manitobans surveyed said the premier shouldn't have broken the fixed election rule requiring the next provincial election to be held in 2020. The election is scheduled for Sept. 10.

A third of respondents said timing didn't matter to them and the remaining one-fifth felt Pallister could call an election whenever he wanted, according to the online poll that surveyed 1,000 Manitobans from June 4-17. 

Winnipeggers, university grads and older voters showed most support for respecting the fixed election date, but nearly one-third of Progressive Conservative supporters also disagreed with breaking the rule, the poll commissioned by the Winnipeg Free Press suggests.

"I don't think this is something that Manitobans are going to take to the streets over," said Welch.

Many voters appeared unswayed by the early election call. 

Forty-nine per cent of respondents said it'll make no difference to their vote, although more than a fifth said they were less likely to vote Progressive Conservative as a result and four per cent were more likely. 

'Pretty cynical' 

Pallister has repeatedly stated that he wanted to call an early election because Manitobans didn't want their province's 150th birthday competing with campaigns. 

It appears many Manitobans agree. 

Forty-nine per cent of Manitobans would prefer not to have an election campaign during province's birthday celebrations, the poll suggests.

Still, most potential voters surveyed — about 67 per cent — felt the provincial leader is trying to sneak in an election before the effect of recent budget cuts can be felt.

"People are pretty cynical … about the reason for this early call," Welch said.

The majority of Manitobans surveyed also wish there weren't two simultaneous election campaigns this fall. A federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21, about six weeks after the provincial one.

The early provincial election call means voters will have to keep track of election promises at two different levels of government.

"I think most people would prefer to have them a little bit further apart so that life isn't quite as confusing as it's probably going to be in September," Welch said.

With the Greens rising to unprecedented popularity and an increasingly split left side of the spectrum, another recent Probe Research poll puts the PCs on a path to victory.

The online survey was conducted by Probe Research by recruiting a random sample of 1,000 Manitoba residents by phoning them on wireless and landline phones. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points with about 95 per cent certainty.

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