To the surprise of absolutely no one, voters in the constituencies of ArthurVirden and Morris returned Progressive Conservative candidates to the provincial legislature in this week’s byelections.
We congratulate both Doyle Piwniuk and Shannon Martin and on their wins, and look forward to them becoming active members of the Opposition in Winnipeg. Martin, in Morris, has been named the official critic for Conservation and Water Stewardship in the PC shadow cabinet. Piwniuk, representing ArthurVirden, will become critic of Multiculturalism and Literacy.
Given the foregone conclusion of the byelections, many political pundits have been examining the tea leaves of distant second- and third-place finishes to pontificate on what meaning could be gleaned for future Liberal and NDP fortunes.
Depending on how you look at the very small results for both parties, either the Liberals are beginning a resurgence or the NDP are tanking. Either is good news for the PCs — who may yet somehow find themselves in government after the next full tilt, despite the uninspiring performance so far of Leader Brian Pallister.
That must be concerning for Premier Greg Selinger, whose own performance has lately been uninspiring as well.
But we find ourselves concerned over the dismal turnout in the two byelections. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of eligible voters just didn’t bother to turn up to mark their ballot.
Of course, we can see why not. It was cold, for one. Voters in parts of Morris may have been preoccupied by the giant natural gas explosion a few days earlier — and their continued lack of home heating. And the rock-solid Tory support meant that everyone knew weeks ago who the winner would be.
But uninspiring leadership from the top has got to have something to do with it as well. Why bother voting when Tweedledee looks so much like Tweedledum?
We find ourselves baffled to be pointing at federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who yesterday made the dramatic move of kicking all Liberal senators out of his caucus. From now on, they’ll sit as independents.
Trudeau claims he wants to create a transparent, independent appointment process for senators, which would restore that body’s autonomy and rid it of patronage and partisanship. That plan — like all of his plans so far — is long on idealism, short on nitty-gritty details, but by God it made a splash.
It’s exciting, for once, to have a new idea in the mix, something that can be debated and discussed, something that reasonable people can disagree about and find themselves either supporting or opposing.
Boy, we wish someone would come up with something like that in Manitoba.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 30, 2014