BRUCE BUMSTEAD / BRANDON SUN ARCHIVES
Vanessa Hamilton is campaigning for the left to join forces to beat the Tory in the Brandon-Souris byelection. The idea puts her at odds with her leader, Thomas Mulcair.
A key New Democrat in Brandon says the opposition parties ought to join forces in the upcoming byelection to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
Vanessa Hamilton, president of the NDP’s Brandon-Souris riding association, says she views the Greens and the Liberals as natural allies. The byelection could be a proving ground for future collaboration between the parties since there is little chance any opposition candidate will defeat the Tories.
"We have nothing to lose," Hamilton said. "It’s the bluest of blue ridings across the country."
Hamilton’s proposal puts her at odds with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who has repeatedly rejected co-operation, and again raises the issue that has vexed the opposition — whether to collaborate, especially in ridings where vote-splitting elects Conservative MPs.
The Liberals ruled out the possibility Tuesday, saying they plan to hold nomination meetings for Brandon-Souris and Provencher, Manitoba’s other vacant federal seat.
"We are not discussing co-operation with any other parties for these byelections," said party spokeswoman Andree-Lyne Halle. "We have no plans to do so in the future, either."
As she first told the Brandon Sun last week, instead of a joint nomination meeting, Hamilton says it makes sense for the other parties to back the NDP candidate in Brandon-Souris. Hamilton is considering running for the nomination herself. She lost a Brandon city council byelection earlier this summer.
In the last federal election, the NDP placed second in Brandon-Souris, winning about a quarter of the votes. The Liberals parachuted in a candidate and placed fourth behind the Greens.
Tallied together, the three main opposition parties earned just over half the votes former MP Merv Tweed did in 2011.
Hamilton recently tweeted Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, asking them to support the NDP candidate in Brandon-Souris.
May offered a positive response. "Obviously, we’re very open to it," she said.
May said the Greens would consider partnering with any party that supports reforming Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, and co-operation could include withholding a candidate in Brandon-Souris, especially if other parties stayed off the ballot in a riding the Greens could win.
May said she was curious to hear whether Mulcair has softened his views on co-operation.
Several calls to the federal and provincial NDP offices were not returned Tuesday.
» Winnipeg Free Press, with a file from the Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 21, 2013