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Take a spin with Winnipeg candidates vying for Seine River

Three political rookies are vying for the chance to represent Seine River. Lise Pinkos represents the NDP, Peter Chura is the Liberal candidate and Janice Morley Lecomte is running for the PCs.

Liberal Peter Chura, Tory Janice Morley Lecomte, New Democrat Lise Pinkos take CBC for a drive

The three candidates in Seine River for the April provincial election take CBC News for a spin to talk about the politics and the personal. (CBC)

Three political rookies are vying for the chance to represent Seine River. Lise Pinkos (centre) represents the NDP; Peter Chura (left) is the Liberal candidate; and Janice Morley Lecomte (right) is running for the PCs.

Université de Saint-Boniface professor emeritus Raymond Hébert expects Seine River to be one of the closest constituencies in the upcoming provincial election. 

"I think possibly the Conservatives will have a small advantage because they nominated their candidate seven months ago," said Hébert.

Morley Lecomte was nominated in May 2015, well ahead of her opponents.

"She's been presumably knocking on doors for the last seven months. That could give her an advantage."

In alphabetical order, watch as CBC's Chris Glover takes a drive with each of the three candidates: 

Peter Chura

CBC's Chris Glover takes a spin with Peter Chura, the former Global news anchor now running to try and help the Liberals shake up Manitoba politics. 5:48

Liberal candidate Peter Chura is a former television news anchor in Winnipeg.

He said his campaign has already knocked on 2,500 doors in the constituency.

"I've always been an observer of politics and a reporter on politics. The one thing that being let go from Global gave me was the opportunity to get involved. A lot of the stars seemed to align," he said.

The political outsider never planned to run for office, and Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari asked him personally to run.

His campaign is being managed by his friend, another political newcomer. 

The 46-year-old isn't deterred by his campaign's lack of experience, financing and pre-existing volunteer machine.

"That's one of the challenges obviously, when you take on a role like this in a party that's been on the outside for so long," he said. "There isn't the big pile of money, there isn't the big list of donors and volunteers to fall back on. So you've got to build your own. I don't mind."

The single father of two daughters said his most important issue is affordable and accessible child care.

He hinted tax credits and increased funding for physical daycare spaces would possibly be in the Liberal plan for child care, but said the electorate shouldn't expect the full plan until the campaign starts.

Chura grew up as an army brat re-locating several times across Canada. He attended university in Ottawa and began his journalism career in Toronto in 1992.

Despite his background on camera, he is still settling into his role as a politician.

"I'm not naturally that outgoing of a person, so I'm pretty shy about knocking on a total stranger's door and saying, 'Hi, I'm a politician, want to talk to me?'" he said. "Most people are very receptive or even very grateful and say, 'Oh, thank you for coming to see me.'"

The Liberal candidate in Seine River in 2011 received only 295 votes, compared to NDP Theresa Oswald's 5,500. Still, Chura said he's ready for a fight.

"The Liberals just haven't been a powerful force. That's changed now. Rana Bokhari has turned it into a completely different situation in the way that she's built the party up and given it some profile."

Janice Morley Lecomte

CBC's Chris Glover takes a spin with Janice Morley Lecomte, the Progressive Conservative hoping to win the critical swing constituency of Seine River. 4:09

The Progressive Conservative candidate for Seine River Janice Morley Lecomte is long-time supporter of the party, but had never considered running prior.

"Initially, it wasn't something that I thought would be in my comfort zone," Morley Lecomte said. "Then, once I thought about it and talked to a few people [I] realized I want to be part of change, I wanted to make a difference."

Lecomte is one of 19 female PC candidates, a record for the party. She disputed recent claims by the New Democrats that PC Leader Brian Pallister is "anti-women."

"All I know is that working now with Brian and the party he has been supportive, he's very approachable," Morley Lecomte said.

Morley Lecomte grew up in Cayer, Man., a small place near Ste. Rose du Lac.

She moved to Winnipeg to study political science at the University of Manitoba and has lived in Seine River for about three decades. The 49-year-old runs a welding business with her husband and has a 20-year-old daughter.

She works as a counsellor at the women's shelter Willow Place. She said her job at the shelter has inspired her to get into politics.

"Having worked in the social service sector and having had the impact of the current NDP government on where I work, we're needing more supports, we're needing more front-line services," she said.

Political opponents of the Progressive Conservatives have consistently warned against a Tory government, saying they would cut public service jobs.

Morley Lecomte echoed her party leader's ongoing defence that they will find cost savings without cutting jobs.

She said she's been campaigning for the past seven months and her focus hasn't changed.

"Still door knocking, still have a great group of volunteers, still meeting people. Only thing that's changed is the weather — it's a lot colder to do that now," Morley Lecomte said.

Lise Pinkos

CBC's Chris Glover takes a spin with Lise Pinkos, the New Democrat hoping to replace former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald. 5:27

New Democrat candidate Lise Pinkos lives just outside Seine River in Windsor Park with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

"I think it's important to know the constituency and to be a part of it," Pinkos said.

She's the only one of the three candidates in the constituency to live outside the boundaries.

"As you'll see as we do our tour, constituency lines and neighbourhood lines, they're not the same. So I always felt like this was part of my neighbourhood," she said. 

Pinkos, 32, grew up in St. Adolphe and St. Norbert. While she's never run for politics herself, she said her family was always politically engaged.

"I was raised in a family where we talked about politics around the dinner table," she said. "I think [running for office] is worth it. I think it's important for people to participate in democracy or else it doesn't work."

Political opponents of the New Democrats have said after a 16-year dynasty, the party has run out of steam and needs to be replaced. Pinkos said she is proof that's not true.

"There are a lot of fresh faces and I also would say that the NDP has kept Manitoba on the right track," she said. "I think this is a time to stay on the right track, to look for change but to look for change within the party."

As the assistant manager of learning at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), she supervises tour guides and focuses on educational programming at the museum.

When approached to run for the NDP in Seine River back in December by the party's provincial secretary Keith Bellamy, who is also a friend of hers, Pinkos said it was an immediate "Yes, I'm in."

Pinkos ran uncontested for the party nomination to fill the void left by long-time health minister Theresa Oswald. She said during the caucus revolt against Selinger and the leadership campaign, she was neutral.

"I actually wasn't a member of the NDP during the leadership," she said. "Opening a national museum meant that I was very much focused on my work at the CMHR, but I certainly support Greg Selinger. He's the leader of our party and I look forward to working with him."

Pinkos, who is working on her master's degree in human rights education, said if elected, she wants to help improve public education

Manitoba has the worst scores in math, science and reading in Canada, according to a national report on education by the Council of Ministers of Education released in October 2014. Under the NDP's reign, Manitoba was also the only province to see reading levels drop between 2007 and 2013.

"I'm not sure we could do anything differently," she said. "I think that continuing to invest in good public education is so important."

About the Author

Chris Glover

CBC News Reporter

Chris spent half a decade as a political reporter for CBC Winnipeg, but now that he's returned to his hometown of Toronto, he's excitedly sinking his teeth in all sorts of stories. Discovering new neighbourhoods isn't a 9 to 5 job and after years away, he has a lot to catch up on. When he's not running around the city with a camera, you can find him on the island soaking up the sun or riding the trails along the Don River.