Political musical chairs in Westman carries on with the impending byelection in Arthur-Virden.
Premier Greg Selinger has yet to call it, but it may not be far off if he decides to call an election for the southwestern seat in tandem with the long-vacant Morris constituency.
If that’s the case, an election cannot be called later than Jan. 15. The official campaign period is between 28 and 35 days long and Morris must have an elected representative in the Manitoba legislature by mid-February, according to rules set out by Elections Manitoba.
Doyle Piwniuk was voted in as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Arthur-Virden on Dec. 13 with the NDP holding its own meeting on Friday.
Selinger told media recently he was waiting to see the outcome of the federal byelections in Provencher and Brandon-Souris before making the call.
Three weeks later, with the lawn signs swept away, campaign offices shuttered and Conservative MP-elect and former Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire is settling into his new digs in Ottawa (though he won’t be sworn into Parliament until the new year). Piwniuk strongly believes the premier will call the provincial byelection in the first weeks of January.
With slightly different boundaries over the years, the Virden area has remained one of the Tories’ safest seats — Maguire secured the seat for his fourth term in 2011 with 66 per cent of the ballots.
The Selinger government has drawn considerable ire from the Tory opposition for the Morris delay, which the premier also said was an elections cost-saving measure however, Elections Manitoba said recently holding the two elections at the same time doesn’t save any money because each has its own returning office.
Piwniuk said the forced amalgamation of rural municipalities has been top of mind for voters and will likely be a cornerstone during his run.
"There’s a lot of anxiety, especially in certain parts of this riding," he said.
"They were forced in a short period of time to make some forced decisions and there’s a lot of history in a lot of these different municipalities."
The former insurance agency owner and first-time politician said the area’s rampant infrastructure roads also remains an issue.
"The roads here are terrible, it’s dangerous, especially in this riding where you have so many trucks, oil trucks and agriculture trucks," he said, "and there’s a lot more traffic on the highway.
"It’s unfortunate because this riding provides so much tax revenue to the province for oil and agriculture and it’s not coming back to invest in roads."
With the next federal general election tentatively sloted for Oct. 19, 2015, the next provincewide election will be pushed to April 2016, according to the Elections Act, giving winners of the Arthur-Virden and Morris provincial races 14 months before the next provincial general election.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 16, 2013