PC lags in polls as election looms

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PC drags in polls as election looms on horizon

Monthly polls by Angus Reid indicate Premier Heather Stefanson is at the bottom of the approval rating among provincial leaders (Archives).

A change of premier, a economic recovery and the announcement of new government spending do not seem to be enough to revive the Progressive Conservative Party, in power in Manitoba. Polls continue to show him trailing the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Manitobans' voting intentions.

With an election slated for October 3, a political analyst thinks it will be a tall order for the Progressive Conservatives to turn the tide.

The public mood is now one of frustration, disappointment and anger, and it's not going to go away easily, according to University of Manitoba Professor Emeritus of Political Studies Paul Thomas.

< p class="e-p">After winning two elections under Brian Pallister, favor for the Progressive Conservatives began to slide as the number of COVID-19 cases rose sharply during the second wave of the pandemic. With the next wave, intensive care units were so overwhelmed that dozens of patients were airlifted to other provinces for treatment.

With continued long waits in hospitals and delays in surgeries and diagnostic tests, Probe Research's latest quarterly poll suggests the NDP holds a solid lead, especially in Winnipeg. Most of the seats in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly are in the provincial capital.

Monthly polls by Angus Reid indicate Premier Heather Stefanson is at the bottom of the approval rating among provincial leaders.

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Ms. Stefanson, who took office in November 2021, has loosened the purse strings and made numerous spending announcements. She promised more money for health care, including a $200 million plan to hire more professionals, cut wait times and ease the workload. To fight inflation, his government issued checks to low-income seniors and low- and middle-income families.

Kelvin Goertzen, Minister of Justice and Government House Leader, said more inflation relief was coming. I think you will hear more about it in the new year; people have a government that wants to help them through a difficult time, Mr. Goertzen said in an interview.

Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba, believes Manitoba's ruling PC faces a daunting challenge to turn things around before the Oct. 3 election (Archives).

Paul Thomas expects more spending in the spring budget, but according to him the Progressive Conservatives are facing the limits of what they can promise, given their claim to be the fiscally responsible party in the province and what their electoral base will accept.

Polls indicate that the NDP seems to have mustered all the anti-conservative sentiment. Paul Thomas observed that Liberal Party Leader Dougald Lamont has garnered media attention, but has been unable to build support for his party.

The New Democrats have also narrowed the funding gap with the Progressive Conservatives and prepared for the election by nominating most of their candidates already. They have made promises of affordability such as freezing electricity rates, but have not yet explained how they would do so.

New Democrats have also not yet specified how they will pay for their promises (Archives).

If you look at the way the Progressive Conservatives manage finances, there's a lot of waste and I think there's the opportunity for savings in government, and certainly in health care, says NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

Wab Kinew says an NDP government would not reopen emergency services of Winnipeg that were downgraded to urgent care centers under the Progressive Conservatives, but that it would provide more support to hospitals and doctors' offices.

Minister Goertzen warns that there is plenty of time before the next election and that the public will come to scrutinize the NDP as the vote approaches. He pointed to two recent by-elections in Winnipeg where the Progressive Conservatives clung to the seats they traditionally held, but thanks to narrower margins.

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