Manitoba Tories could grab NDP strongholds in Winnipeg: analyst

With about two weeks left in the provincial election campaign, political analyst Paul Thomas said the NDP is at risk of losing several strongholds in the east end of Winnipeg, including, Kildonan, Transcona and Concordia, and the Progressive Conservatives may be the big benefactor.

NDP risks losing Transcona, Kildonan and Concordia, says political analyst

Veteran Elmwood NDP MLA Jim Maloway has covered up his party's name on his campaign signs. (CBC)

With about two weeks left in the provincial election campaign, political analyst Paul Thomas said the NDP is at risk of losing several strongholds in the east end of Winnipeg, including, Kildonan, Transcona and Concordia, and the Progressive Conservatives may be the big benefactor.

"There are many surprises given how much trouble the NDP is still in," said Thomas, a professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba.

"We usually think they're safe [for the NDP]."

Concordia has been held by the New Democrats since it was created in 1981 and was represented by former NDP premier Gary Doer.

Since creation in 1969, Transcona has been held by the New Democrats in all but one election.

"They are worried about it, trying to get more volunteers in there, trying to get more photo opportunities with [the leader]," Thomas said.

NDP Leader Greg Selinger has made several announcements in northeast Winnipeg constituencies.

He made a pledge to double the amount of QuickCare clinics March 17 in Transcona and a promise to create a patients' advocate office April 5 in Concordia.

"It says that maybe the NDP's shifted to a defensive strategy of trying to limit the damage, not trying to win so much anymore," Thomas said.

Kildonan at risk for the NDP

Dave Chomiak's Kildonan seat in north Winnipeg is among the most surprising to be in jeopardy for the NDP, said Thomas.

Chomiak, 63, has been elected in the constituency six straight times—once with a victory of about 70 per cent of the vote.

"That's unheard of in a three-party race," Thomas said of Chomiak's 70 per cent win.

"Who would have thought that (NDP) David Chomiak (Kildonan) may be in trouble politically?"

Rookie politician Nic Curry, 30, who is running for the PCs in Kildonan, said his party is poised to work hard to win the seat.

"My [PC constituency] association has been so supportive, they've been there for quite some time in this so-called stronghold, and they're happy to see that maybe a stronghold no longer," Curry said.

This is the military trainer's first foray into provincial politics. He was nominated for the PCs in August 2015.

Tory Leader Brian Pallister made a campaign pledge to enter a trade deal with other western provinces in Kildonan Monday.

Curry recognized Kildonan is a priority pick up for the PC's central campaign, but he said mostly his campaign is being aided by his friends and family. "Maybe a lot of people in Kildonan feel like they've just handed it to the NDP for so long they've been frustrated at giving them an easy opportunity and seeing that opportunity lost," Curry said.

Chomiak unfazed by dipping New Democrats

Dave Chomiak said despite the unpopularity of NDP Leader Greg Selinger, he said he is still getting a warm reception at the door.

"All three leaders aren't exactly at the top of the popularity list amongst my constituents. This is an area that votes for the person," Chomiak said.

"Every campaign [the PCs have] run they say they're going to win it. I think people are pretty humble, they don't like bragging," Chomiak said.

In recent Mainstreet Research and Insight Manitoba surveys, the New Democrats are struggling to get support across the city of Winnipeg.

"I haven't seen a significant drop in my support," said Chomiak, who said the Manitoba Liberals' support has declined in his constituency after a small bump during the federal election.

Liberals getting lots of support, candidate says

Navdeep Khangura, 33, is a financial advisor with Sunova Credit Union who is running in Kildonan for the Liberals.

"I've received lots of positive support from this area," said the rookie candidate.

"The NDP is focused only on one community, the Ukrainian community and I really never heard [from] the PC."

Despite several recent fumbles from the Liberals' central campaign, Khangura said it won't impact her constituency and Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari has dealt with it well.

"We can't blame our leader, this is not [our] leader's problem," she said.

Gary Marshall is running in Kildonan for the Manitoba Party and Steven Stairs is representing the Green Party in Kildonan.

Elmwood could stay NDP with Maloway, Thomas says

The NDP has represented the Winnipeg constituency of Elmwood since 1962 and political analyst Paul Thomas said it's the least likely of the bunch to switch to the PCs.

"People perennially under-estimate Jim Maloway. Not that he can't lose and not to say that he's dynamite as an MLA in terms of legislation, he's never been in cabinet, but boy does he look after his constituents," said Thomas.

Maloway has taken the unusual step of covering up his affiliation to the NDP on his lawn signs dotting the constituency.

"You'll notice that he's blanked out the party affiliation so he's developed a kind of personal vote following," Thomas said.

"He won't dazzle you, but I'm not sure that he'll lose either."

Maloway could not be reach for comment. Sarah Langevin is running in the constituency for the PCs and the Manitoba Party candidate in Elmwood is Albert Ratt.


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