Winnipeg ridings closely contested

Four federal ridings in Winnipeg worth watching

Canadians are heading back to the polls.

Voters will be casting their ballots on May 2 after opposition parties defeated Stephen Harper and his Conservative government in a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons on March 25. It will be the fourth federal election in seven years.

According to early polling results conducted by Probe Research Inc., the Conservative Party is entering the campaign with a large lead in popular support in Manitoba, with 51 per cent support province-wide. However, Conservative Party support is mainly found in rural areas, and the polling firm says four ridings in Winnipeg will be highly contested.

Curtis Brown, a research associate at Probe Research Inc., stated that “there are several ridings in Winnipeg to watch, including Winnipeg North, Winnipeg South, Winnipeg South Centre, and Saint Boniface.”

Winnipeg North switched from an NDP riding to a Liberal-held riding in a by-election in November 2010. Liberal Party candidate Kevin Lamoureux defeated his NDP opponent in a narrow victory in the by-election. Lamoureux now has to successfully defend his newly acquired job a mere four months after winning his seat.

In the last general election in 2008, the Liberals lost the riding of Saint Boniface to Conservative Party candidate Shelley Glover. Liberal Raymond Simard, the former Saint Boniface MP, is seeking to defeat Glover and regain his seat in the House of Commons.

br(pullquote). “… there are several ridings in Winnipeg to watch, including Winnipeg North, Winnipeg South, Winnipeg South Centre, and Saint Boniface.”

Anita Neville, the Liberal Party MP representing Winnipeg South Centre, narrowly defeated her opponent Conservative Trevor Kennerd in the last general election. In this election, Neville will have to defeat school trustee and Conservative Party member, and former Liberal, Joyce Bateman to retain her seat.

Winnipeg South Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge will have a tough political fight as he attempts to retain his seat against Liberal Party challenger Terry Duguid. According to Probe Research Inc., the Liberals enjoy the highest proportion of voter support in southwest Winnipeg which will make Bruinooge’s reelection campaign that much more difficult.

Jared Wesley, an assistant professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, echoed Brown’s assessment that those four Winnipeg ridings are going to be closely contested based on indications from early polling and previous electoral results.

Wesley also said that a good indicator of each party’s fortunes in these ridings will be where the political parties invest most of their limited campaign resources.

According to Wesley, “it’ll be interesting to see where party leaders go towards the end of the election. If Ignatieff goes to Saint Boniface for example, that might tell us the Liberals think they can win the riding.” He added, “it’ll provide a good indication of where parties are throwing their resources towards gaining or holding a seat.”

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