Monday, April 26, 2010

Whither the Manitoba Liberals?

Or is that "wither"? They certainly aren't in very good shape right now. And now they're about to lose half their caucus when Kevin Lamoureaux steps down to run federally in Winnipeg North. Dan Lett thinks the party is in the worst shape it's been for quite some time:

How bad are things for the Grits? The most recent Probe-Free Press poll showed the Liberals with just 11 per cent support. It is not unusual for the Liberals to soar between elections into the high teens of support, only to fall back. Now, Liberals can't even count on these inter-election thrills.

Collaterally, Lamoureux's departure impacts the outcome of the next provincial election.

The NDP, under new Premier Greg Selinger, continue to hold a slim lead in opinion polls over Hugh McFadyen's Progressive Conservatives. The Tories desperately need a surge in Liberal popularity to eat away at NDP support, particularly in Winnipeg where the NDP wins most of their seats.

The loss of Lamoureux is bad enough. But it's even worse when you consider the Liberals likely won't retain the seat with another candidate. Lamoureux won this riding on his own, in spite of a troubled Liberal brand. Without him, the NDP will win that seat back.

There are two Liberals in the Manitoba legislature. Later this year or early next year, there will be only one. And unless there is a dramatic change in fortune, after October 2011 it is very likely there will be none.

From the point of view of an NDP supporter, this is a godsend, although if they win a couple more majority governments it will start to get embarrassing, kind of like the Alberta Tories.

On a side note, it seems kind of amusing to view Lamoureux as the Liberals' biggest asset, but he does have a certain appeal for his constituents. Having met him I can attest to the fact that he's actually very friendly and polite in person, though his conduct in the House is the source of a lot of mirth.

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