Manitoba Tories in difficult position following byelection loss: professor

A political studies professor says the Manitoba NDP’s byelection win of a Progressive Conservative stronghold seat shows the Tories are at a low point.

Carla Compton won the Winnipeg seat in Tuxedo for the NDP on Tuesday night, beating Tory candidate Lawrence Pinsky by more than 600 votes.

It’s the first time the seat has flipped since its creation in 1981. 

It was last held by former premier and PC party leader Heather Stefanson, who announced she would be stepping down after her party lost in last year’s provincial election and she narrowly reclaimed her seat.

Royce Koop at the University of Manitoba says he was surprised the blue constituency turned orange.

He says the Tories are in a difficult transition period.

“The Tories are unpopular … and the NDP is at a high point,” he said Wednesday.

The well-to-do Tuxedo area in west Winnipeg has been held by two politicians — Stefanson and another former premier, Gary Filmon. It was among the few Winnipeg seats to remain strongly with the Tories when the NDP racked up big majority governments in the early 2000s. 

Strategic voting may have influenced some residents to change their tune this time, said Koop.

“(They) can either have a Tory on the Opposition benches or a New Democrat in the government,” he said.

“People can be smart, they can be sophisticated about those things. So, we might have seen some of that.”

The byelection win puts the NDP at 34 legislature seats. The Tories have 20 and the Liberals have one. 

Following his loss, Pinsky said he believes Tuxedo will return to the Tories in the next election.

Koop said he agrees.

Premier Wab Kinew said the byelection win shows voters are choosing to support a united government. 

“To welcome a New Democrat MLA from the constituency of Tuxedo, I think, sends a very clear message that we are one Manitoba.”

Compton, a registered nurse, said she wants to be involved in decisions impacting health care, including ways to improve recruitment and retention of workers.

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