Right in the centre - An abundance of errors


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

It was billed as an election nobody wanted. It became the election nobody liked. Well almost. Maybe the Peoples’ Party of Canada were a little bit happy, as their vote percentage went up. They even came in at second place in the neighbouring Lisgar-Marquette constituency. In Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa, PPC came in fourth, but accumulated 3,965 votes. PPC also came in at fourth spot in Brandon-Souris.

Overall, PPC came in at just over five per cent of the national vote. In only two years, they have doubled up the Green Party vote, which has been around for decades.

There are many reasons for the PPC vote gains, but they need to be analyzed. The party is led by Maxime Bernier. He was a Conservative Party of Canada MP, a cabinet minister in the Harper government. He won his seat as a conservative in 2015 and when Harper resigned, after losing in that same election, a leadership contest was held. Bernier came in a very close second to Andrew Scheer, very close, as in less than two per cent difference in the votes. The main reason that Bernier lost was that the Quebec Dairy Farmers bought CPC memberships so as to vote against Bernier. Bernier has long campaigned against milk marketing boards and dairy quotas and of course the dairy farmers didn’t want to see that disruption to the dairy industry and possibly for very good reasons. That’s a topic for another day.  It appears that Bernier and Scheer couldn’t come to an agreement on policies after the leadership race, so the intrigue began.

Bernier sat first as an independent and then formed his own party, the Peoples’ Party of Canada. I say his own party because it is very much his own party; he appointed himself as leader and has basically carried the party on his back, his personality and his tenacity ever since. As far as I know, they haven’t held a convention or a leadership vote. In the 2019 election, he lost his seat. He lost again Monday night. He can’t even get elected in his own riding. He is not doing well, in spite of winning 5 per cent of the national vote. PPC elected no MPs, not one. What they did gather together was a variety of voters, some Bernier fans, some people who would vote for his policies and a lot of people upset with other parties’ policies and COVID-19 rules and regulations.

For those who wanted the Liberals out of office, and that was the vast majority of Canadians, the PPC blew their chances. Without the benefit Tuesday morning of having final counts, it looks like PPC votes kept Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party of Canada from winning about 25 seats.

If people and parties want to defeat either the Liberals or the Conservatives, then they should line up with one or the other. It seems people don’t understand math.

On the Manitoba election scene, nothing much changed. It looks like, as of Tuesday morning, that one Winnipeg seat may switch back from Conservatives to Liberals, depending on the mail in ballot counting.

So within Manitoba and across Canada, the federal government spent $650 million and we accomplished very little. Add up how much the parties spent and the bill will be a lot higher. By the way, newspapers love elections– lots of news and some ads!

Now Manitoba can turn its attention to the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba leadership race. The race now involves two women, MLA Heather Stefanson and former MP and federal cabinet minister Shelley Glover. The party has made several mistakes in the race so far. Members need to insist on some changes and vote accordingly. Once Premier Brian Pallister stepped down, the party should have taken a deep breath and gathered some wisdom and input. First, there was no rush to replace Pallister. Just about everyone knew that the current premier, Kelvin Goertzen, would step up as a very acceptable caretaker premier. He has done just that.

Instead, the party rushed into a leadership race in the middle of a very rushed federal election. Bad move.

Then the party dreamed up some new criteria for leadership candidates. The biggest change was to sell or renew 1,000 new memberships and in a short time frame. Another bad move. Several candidates decided they couldn’t meet all the criteria. One prospective candidate didn’t make the cut on memberships.

Then another candidate, former party CFO (Treasurer) Ken Lee, outsmarted the party and sold a whole lot more than 1,000 memberships. The party isn’t announcing how many he or any other candidate sold. Another bad move.

The day after Lee made the deadline and the membership criteria, the party disqualified him on undisclosed reasons. That was a really, really bad move.

Parties wonder why people don’t trust party backroom tactics. Not announcing why Lee was disqualified is a perfect example of why the distrust.

The PC membership need to vote for change and renewal. If they don’t, there are thousands of members and voters willing to re-evaluate if PC Manitoba is the best way to go forward.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.