Tuesday night there were two provincial by-elections in the “Tory Blue” Manitoba ridings of Morris and Arthur-Virden. The Progressive Conservative candidates crushed all competition, receiving more votes than all their competitors combined, both received over 50% of the vote. The night was pretty much as expected as far as the PCs go.
The story of the night seems to be the weakness of the NDP vote which collapsed, and the Liberals who increased their overall percentage.
This led to the following on Twitter:
Now both tweets say basically the same thing. However, the tweet from Drew Caldwell, a sitting NDP MLA reads like a warning not to vote Liberal if you do not want a Progressive Conservative government. It seems like less of a comment on the by-election, PCs were winning those ridings regardless, and more of a comment or even warning regarding the next general election.
This brings me back a gain to a topic I raised during the federal by-election in Brandon Souris, our first past the post system being broken. Here is a great example of that.
In Manitoba you have three centrist parties. The NDP are centre-left, the PCs are centre-right, and what exists of the liberals I suppose would be centre-centre (is that a term?). The two main parties, the NDP and PCs are fairly close in support a lot of the time. Mr. Caldwell’s point actually is in many respects true.
And it ends up being completely unfair to the Liberals.
If you look at the last number of years in Manitoba, it could be argued that the best potential premier of the province was the (former) leader of the Liberal Party, Dr. Jon Gerrard. The new Liberal leader, Rana Bokhari, seems to come with some stellar qualifications too. However, with the battle seen as between two alternatives, potential Liberal voters would most likely decide to vote strategically for one of the other parties.
This is another reason we need to reform our voting laws. If we were to go to a preferential ballot in Manitoba, then those who would vote Liberal could show that support with their first choice and then select their favourite of the main two parties for their second choice. It lets the third party show that it actually has some support, which I suspect is there, but gets lost in the strategies of voting day. If people start seeing the Liberals as having a little more support, they become more of a contender. More choice is good for democracy.
This is actually a time where we could get this done in Manitoba. My suspicion is that preferential ballot might actually be good for the NDP in a couple ridings going into the next general election, as I suspect more Liberals would go NDP as second choice over the PCs. In ridings like Morris and Arthur-Virden, it wouldn’t affect the outcome at all because of the strong first-choice showings of the Progressive Conservatives.
It may be an interesting experiment going into the next general election, and it may work in the NDP’s favour to try it.
Lastly, my friend Rob pointed out something else about Mr. Caldwell’s statement.
Does that mean that in the federal by-election in November, did drift towards the NDP give the Conservatives a win over the Liberal candidate? After all, had just a portion of NDP voters went Liberal, Brandon-Souris would have a Liberal MP.