‘What’s a day off?’ Campaign volunteers in Manitoba ramp up for another election

By | September 11, 2019

At a campaign office in northwest Winnipeg, the switch has already happened. 

For months, the small space in a strip mall on Inkster Boulevard was dedicated to provincial Liberal candidate Cindy Lamoureux, who won her seat in the riding of Tyndall Park during Tuesday’s provincial election.

But on Wednesday, that same office turned into the official campaign headquarters for her father, Kevin Lamoureux, the Liberal candidate and incumbent for the federal riding of Winnipeg North.

“The deal that I had with Cindy [was] no talking federal politics until after the provincial election,” the MP said Wednesday. “That’s the reason why I can talk about it today.… As of 12:01 last night, it was about Winnipeg North, the residents of Winnipeg North.”

Most of Cindy’s signs are coming down and Kevin’s started to go up Wednesday morning, when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau officially launched the federal election campaign, meaning Manitoba’s party machines will have to keep running for another 40 days. 

Federal Liberal candidate for Winnipeg North Kevin Lamoureux gets ready to start campaigning, following his daughter Cindy Lamoureux’s win in Manitoba’s provincial election Tuesday night. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC )

Winnipeg North NDP candiate Kyle Mason is ready. 

“We’re really excited,” he said.

The first-time federal candidate was already prepping for the campaign when the provincial election was called, one year ahead of schedule. 

“We kind of put things on hold the last month to support our provincial colleagues,” he said.

After a four-week campaign, the Progressive Conservatives and leader Brian Pallister won a second consecutive majority Tuesday night, capturing 36 seats in the 57-seat legislature. The New Democrats improved their seat total to 18 and the Liberals were held to three.

Mason says while volunteering for provincial NDP candidates during the campaign, he worked alongside other volunteers who are ready to help him now. 

Winnipeg North NDP candidate Kyle North gets ready for federal election. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC )

“We just finished the provincial election and it was a long, hard battle, but I know the volunteers are excited for the federal campaign,” said Mason. 

Boost for Conservative supporters: expert

The weight of elections running back to back will have an impact on volunteers, said political analyst Christopher Adams at the University of Manitoba.

“Pretty well the same people who volunteer in provincial campaigns are the same people [who] volunteer in federal campaigns,” said Adams. 

Conservative team members behind Joyce Bateman, who is looking to take the federal riding of Winnipeg South Centre from Liberal Jim Carr, said they are aware there could be voter fatigue, so they are trying to manage activities accordingly. Campaign manager Roslyn Nugent noted in an email to The Canadian Press that their volunteer pool has been growing for several weeks.

Adams doesn’t think, though, the back-to-back elections will have much of an effect on voters.

Pallister called the Manitoba election more than a year before the scheduled date. Adams said the campaign was lacklustre and didn’t engage voters. Turnout was 55.4 per cent, slightly lower than in 2016.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister speaks with media on Wednesday to announce his party’s new mandate at the Manitoba Legislature after winning Tuesday’s provincial election. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

But, Adams said, its messaging could translate — for better or worse — to the parties’ federal counterparts.

“I think the Conservative supporters will be more buoyed by what happened last night,” Adams said.

“The [Manitoba] NDP had to fight very, very hard for the seats they took from the [Progressive] Conservatives.”

There may also be ramifications on federal party fundraising, he suggested. If supporters already donated in Manitoba, they might not be inclined to hand over more, especially if their provincial candidate did not win.

‘Like a snowball going down a hill’

Leah Gazan, the federal NDP candidate for Winnipeg Centre, said “it was a real disservice to democracy when Pallister called the provincial election early knowing that there was a federal election coming up right away.”

“However, in saying that, I have a team of really excited volunteers.”

Gazan had major support to win the nomination in March over former NDP legislature member Andrew Swan. She said the momentum has continued, despite many of her volunteers knocking on doors for the provincial party.

The team is not discouraged by the election’s outcome, she said, and Manitobans still seem invigorated by the federal election.

“I think people want to make sure there are voices representing them in the House of Commons.”

Manitoba Green Party Leader James Beddome speaks with supporters on election night. Beddome ran in the Winnipeg riding of Fort Rouge in the provincial election, and is also running in the federal election in Winnipeg South Centre. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

Manitoba Green party Leader James Beddome was unable to capture a seat provincially, nor did the party make the breakthrough that some had anticipated.

Beddome, who is the federal Green candidate in Winnipeg South Centre, said his team is in the midst of an Ironman triathlon.

“I think we can roll from one to the other and hopefully it’s a little bit like a snowball going down a hill,” he said. “We are just getting started and the ball is only going to get bigger, larger, and roll faster.”

Morale booster

Back at Lamoureux headquarters, a handful of volunteers don’t seem to need a break.

“What’s a day off?” joked Carlyle Foga, who worked as Cindy Lamoureux’s campaign manager and now plans to volunteer for her father. 

“I was very happy with last night’s results,” Foga said Wednesday. “It gave the necessary morale booster. I think energy’s back and ready to tackle another campaign that’s five times the size of Tyndall Park.” 

Canadians go to the polls in the federal election on Oct. 21.