Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Manitoba provincial by-elections today (Morris & Arthur-Virden)

Location of Arthur-Virden and Morris
Voters in two Manitoba provincial ridings go to the polls today to elect new members of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. The two vacated ridings are located in rural Manitoba, and are considered safe Tory ridings. The vacated ridings are Morris and Arthur-Virden. Morris borders the city of Winnipeg on the southwest, while Arthur-Virden is located in the southwest corner of the province.

The governing New Democratic Party has come under huge scrutiny for waiting to call these by-elections. Morris in particular has been vacant for nearly a year!- 11 ½ months to be exact. Premier Greg Selinger has made many excuses for the delay, but the politically cynical would suggest that he was in no hurry to call by-elections in two safe Tory seats. After all, Manitoba law dictates that a by-election can be called as late as a year after a seat becomes vacant. Selinger’s inaction may have cost his party in the polls. A recent poll conducted by Probe Research gave the opposition Progressive Conservatives a 48-29 lead over the NDP in the province.

Large parts of both ridings just had federal by-elections in November. The Morris, Ste. Agathe and Niverville areas of Morris are part of the Provencher federal riding, while most of Arthur-Virden is located in the Brandon—Souris federal riding. In fact, Arthur-Virden was vacated in October because its MLA, Larry Maguire, ran (and won) in the Brandon—Souris by-election for the federal Conservatives. Morris however was vacated in February when its MLA, Mavis Tailleiu resigned due to family and health reasons.


Morris is a sprawling rural riding on the west, and southwest of Winnipeg. It stretches from the Assiniboine River valley in the north, down to the Town of Morris in the south. On the northeast, it stretches to the Winnipeg City limits, and consists of the Red River valley south of the city. The riding contains the communities of Morris, Niverville, Ste. Agathe, Sanford, Oak Bluff, La Salle, Starbuck and Elie. It has a sizable German and French population. Niverville is the largest community.


The riding has existed for most of Manitoba’s history, having been created in 1879. Before that, it was part of Ste. Agathe riding.  The riding is very safe for the Progressive Conservatives. They have held the riding since the 1940s, and have won every election in the seat comfortably since 1969. In 2011, Taillieu won 74% of the vote for the Tories. The NDP has never won the riding, and the Liberals haven’t won the riding in 118 years.


Geo. Klyne, Ind. (1870-1874)
A.-F. Martin, Opp. (1874-1878)
J.N. Taillefer, Govt. (1878-1883)
H.J. Tennant, Cons. (1883-1886)

A.-F. Martin, Liberal (1886-1896) 2nd time
Stewart Mulvey, Liberal (1896-1899)

C.H. Campbell, Cons. (1899-1913)
Jacques Parent, Cons. (1913-1918)

W.R. Clubb, Farmer/UFM/Lib.-Prog. (1920-1941)
J.C. Dryden, Ind./Lib.-Prog. (1941-1949)

H.P. Shewman, Ind/Prog. Cons. (1949-1968)
W.H. Jorgenson, Prog. Cons. (1969-1981)
Clayton Manness, Prog. Cons. (1981-1995)
F. Pitura, Prog. Cons. (1995-2003)
Ms. Mavis Taillieu, Prog. Cons. (2003-2013)

Political geography

2011 results by polling division in Morris (urban polls combined)
PC MLA Mavis Taillieu’s steamroll victory over the NDP’s Mohamed Alli in 2011 (she defeated him by over 4000 votes or 74%-19%) ensured that every poll in the riding backed her. Her strongest poll was #17, located in Cartier Rural Municipality in the northwest of the riding. In this poll, she won 93% of the vote. The poll contains a number of Hutterite Colonies surrounding the community of Elie. Her worst poll was also located in Cartier, which was poll #11. In this poll, she won just 57% of the vote. Poll 11 is concentrated on the community of Lido Plage, on the south shore of the Assiniboine River. Federally, the riding is split between Provencher and Portage—Lisgar. All of the Morris polls in both federal ridings also went Tory in the last election.


The Tories are running former Manitoba director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Shannon Martin. He has been the candidate since May of last year. Opposing him from the NDP is actor/director/writer Dean Harder. The Liberals are running University of Manitoba student Jeremy Barber. It is no question that the Tories should easily win this riding. They won it easily in 2011 when they lost the provincial election as a whole, so now that they have a massive lead in the polls, it should be a cakewalk. The real question is, how big of a victory can they get? Can they reach 80%? And who will finish second? The Liberals only won 7% of the vote in 2011, but they are currently polling at 20% province-wide, which is a 12-point gain from the 2011 election. Plus, the last provincial by-election held in Fort Whyte, another safe Tory seat- saw the Liberals vault from third to second.  It is quite possible that this will happen again in Morris. The Liberals last finished second in this riding in 1999.


Arthur-Virden is nestled in the southwest corner of the province, and is almost completely rural in nature. Its western boundary is the province of Saskatchewan, and on the south it’s bounded by the United States. The riding is shaped like an "L", with its northern wing extending northward past the community of Hamiota, and its eastern wing extending east past Boissevain. In addition to Hamiota and Boissevain, the riding also includes the communities of Hartney, Melita, Deloraine, Oak Lake, Virden and Elkhorn. Virden is the largest community. The riding also has a large German population.


The riding was created in 1989 when the previous ridings of Arthur and Virden were merged into one. The area became part of Manitoba in 1881 when the western boundary of the province moved west. The area was covered by the riding of Turtle Mountain from 1881 to 1886 and then by Souris from 1886 to 1903. Virden was created in 1899 and Arthur was created in 1903. The Tories have dominated the region since 1953, with the Progressive Conservatives winning both Arthur and Virden in every election since. The NDP has never won either riding, and the Liberals haven’t held either seat since 1922.  Since Arthur-Virden was created in 1989, the Tories have won a majority of the vote in the riding in every election except 1999 when Larry Maguire won with 49% and the NDP winning 36%. In 2011, Maguire won 66% of the vote, with the NDP winning 30%. 


Arthur (Turtle Mountain 1881-1886; Souris 1886-1903)

J.P. Alexander, Cons. (1881-1883)
F.M. Young, Liberal (1883-1886)
J.P. Alexander, Cons. (1886-1888) 2nd time
A.M. Campbell, Liberal (1888-1899)
A.E. Thompson, Cons. (1899-1907)
Jn. Williams, Liberal (1907-1910)
A.M. Lyle, Cons. (1910-1914)
Jn. Williams, Liberal (1914-1922) 2nd time
D.L. McLeod, Prog./Lib.-Prog. (1922-1936)
J.R. Pitt, Lib.-Prog. (1936-1953)

J.A. Ross, Prog. Cons. (1953-1958)
J.G. Cobb, Prog. Cons (1958-1962)
J.D. Watt, Prog. Cons. (1962-1977)
J.E. Downey, Prog. Cons. (1977-1990)

Jas. Simpson, Cons. (1899-1903)
J.H. Agnew, Cons. (1903-1908)
H.C. Simpson, Cons. (1909-1914)

Geo. Clingan, Liberal (1914-1922)
R.H. Mooney, Prog./Lib.-Prog. (1922-1953)
J.W.M. Thompson, Prog. Cons. (1953-1962)
D.M. McGregor, Prog. Cons. (1962-1981)
H.E. Graham, Prog. Cons. (1981-1986)
G.M. Findlay, Prog. Cons. (1986-1990)

J.E. Downey, Prog. Cons. (1990-1999) continued
L. Maguire, Prog. Cons. (1999-2013)

Political geography
2011 results by polling division in Arthur-Virden (urban polls combined)

Unlike Morris, the NDP actually did win polls in Arthur-Virden in the 2011 election. The NDP won a total of 7 polls, 4 of which were on Indian Reserves. The other 3 polls the NDP won were rural polls in the northern part of the riding. The Tories did win every other poll in the riding. The best poll for the Tories was #14, in the west-central part of the riding, where they won 93% of the vote. This poll is located in the Wallace Rural Municipality, and contains the community of Kola, and a Hutterite colony. The Strongest NDP poll was #2, which covers the Birdtail Sioux First Nation, located near the northern boundary of the riding. The NDP’s Garry Draper won 95% of the vote on the reserve, with Maguire unable to win a single vote. The Liberal candidate won one vote there. Federally, the riding is mostly located in Brandon—Souris, with the far northern portion located in Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette. In the 2011 federal election, all but one poll in Arthur-Virden went Conservative.


Running for the Tories is Russell native Doyle Piwniuk, who is a local businessman. The NDP is running local educator Bob Senff, who ran previously for the party in 2007 as well as in the 2006 federal election.  The Liberals are running Floyd Buhler, the CAO of Wallace Rural Municipality. Just like Morris, the race in Arthur-Virden will be for second place. The way the polls are going, it would take a lot to stop Piwniuk from winning. It will be an uphill battle for the Liberals to place 2nd, as they won just 4% of the vote in 2011. They haven’t received more than 10% since 1999. However, the Liberals did finish second in 1990.


For the Tories to “win” tonight, they will need to increase their vote share in both ridings. For the Liberals, they will need to finish 2nd in at least Morris to have a successful night. For the NDP, they need to hold their ground, by staying in 2nd place in both ridings. We’ll find out what happens when the polls close at 8:00pm Central (9:00 pm Eastern).

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