Will an early election spell trouble for the Pallister PCs?
For the upcoming Manitoba election, a change in government come September. However, there are some critical voter issues that could narrow the PC-NDP gap over the next two weeks.
Unlikely. With less than a week to go until the September 10th provincial election, called over a year earlier than expected, the Pallister PCs have a comfortable lead in Manitoba.
In what is predominantly a two-party race, the most recent poll conducted by Mainstreet Research found the PCs have 42.5% support among decided and leaning voters, while the NDP had 34.7%. Since elected in April 2016, the PCs polling numbers across the province have remained consistent, with only very slight jumps and dips in support when issues have risen.
However, both the PC and NDP leaders are unpopular with voters.
With his first election as NDP leader, Wab Kinew has a very public criminal record that the other parties are concentrating at the forefront of their attack ads. Kinew has to convince voters he is a changed man and will not be weak on criminal justice and domestic violence.
Heading into his second term, Pallister has to run on his own record. Despite reducing the PST to 7%, his approval rating has dropped.
In 2016, Manitoba witnessed an unprecedented outcome where the Pallister PCs won the largest majority in provincial history – 40 of the 57 seats. Manitoba has recently undergone a review of election boundaries based on population redistribution. Rural Manitoba lost a PC stronghold riding, while a new electoral riding within the City of Winnipeg could swing to either party. These boundary changes will have a slight impact on political support but as some political analysts have presented, even give an advantage to the PCs.
With these factors, it is unlikely there will be a change in government in September. Yet, there are some critical voter issues that could narrow the PC-NDP gap over the next two weeks.
Major Election Issues to Watch
- Health care is a huge component of the NDP’s election platform. Following the implementation of a drastic healthcare transformation that has included two emergency rooms converted to urgent care centers and changes to how frontline services are delivered, the PCs are vulnerable on healthcare.
- The NDP have pledged to reopen the two emergency rooms and are criticizing Pallister’s record of cuts to front line services, such as nurses and healthcare aides.
- The PCs are advocating that healthcare reforms have led to reduced wait times, increased spending in healthcare without cuts to frontline services
- The methamphetamine epidemic that has surfaced over the past two years has become a major topic of candidate debates across the province with each political party promising solutions to tackle if elected. Debate over who within the medical system is equipped to deal with the emergence of meth addiction and controversy over safe consumption sites will be a key election issue for voters.
- The PCs have promised to create 12 new treatment and waiting spaces for people addicted to meth, including six holding rooms for those in meth psychosis in an effort to reduce the dangers on doctors, nurses and hospital staff
- The Manitoba NDP pledges to open safe consumption sites, expand addictions treatment programs and establish a meth intervention program
- Liberals promised to open a virtual addictions co-ordination centre, more drug stabilization beds, treatment beds and medically-supervised detox.
- Pallister’s campaign is centered on making life more affordable for Manitobans. He has pledged to roll back taxes implemented by the previous NDP Government such as eliminating probate fees; eliminating PST on wills and estates, home insurance, and haircuts. In addition his sudden decision to pull its $25/tonne carbon tax last fall will resonate with his core supporters.
- The Manitoba NDP has vowed to raise taxes for those who earn more than $250,000/year; boost the minimum wage to $15/hour; and support for a flat $20 per tonne carbon tax, despite the Federal Government declining Pallister’s $25/tonne proposal. The carbon tax is highly unpopular in Manitoba but this position will appeal to NDP-Liberal swing voters.
Key Upcoming Dates
- Advanced Polls open until September 5th
- Election Day: September 10th