jdobbin Posted July 9, 2006 Report Share Posted July 9, 2006 Surging Tories try to stay grounded Friday, July 7th, 2006 By Martin Cash PROGRESSIVE Conservative party members were trying to hold back their glee and not appear cocky yesterday after Winnipeg Free Press/Probe Research poll results showed their party shooting past the governing NDP in public opinion. Tory leader Hugh McFadyen said he was encouraged by the results that showed 43 per cent of Manitobans would support his party if there were an election tomorrow, compared to 38 per cent for the NDP. After returning from Brandon, where Rick Borotsik, the popular former Brandon mayor and MP, was acclaimed as the party's candidate for Brandon West Wednesday, McFadyen said the party has plenty more work left to do. "Some Manitobans may be encouraged by some of the steps we have taken, but at the end of the day we don't take voters for granted and anyone who does that gets themselves into trouble," he said. "We will continue to work hard to earn the support of Manitobans on election day." The latest poll follows two previous ones in December 2005 and March 2006 in which the two parties were in a dead heat. Not surprisingly, NDP Premier Gary Doer was not too enthusiastic about talking about the poll yesterday. "I've got a drawer full of polls that have us lower than we thought and then higher than we thought," he said. "My answer is still the same -- we always campaign as if we are one vote behind." Political analysts agree that the provincial Tories are benefiting from the honeymoon period the federal Conservative party is enjoying and the recent election of McFadyen as the provincial party's leader, which has provided fresh interest and enthusiasm for the party. "The results are not unexpected," said Paul Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Manitoba. "That's partly because the NDP is at the mid-point or slightly past that of their second term in office. They have faced a lot of challenging issues and have been a bit on the run in the last session." The Doer government has been hounded by accountability issues and claims of mismanagement at arms-length organizations like the Crocus Investment Fund and the Workers Compensation Board. They have also faced recent problems within the child welfare system. "When the legislature is in session, it is the only time the opposition has a regular platform to challenge the government, make attacks and gain ground in terms of public opinion," Thomas said. "This poll comes right after the close of a session." Thomas said things could change before the next election. One political analyst, who asked that his name not be used, said the poll will sound warning bells for the NDP. "This is going to wake Doer up," the analyst said. But he added that people do not know that much about what McFadyen stands for yet. Thomas agreed, saying the last Progressive Conservative premier, Gary Filmon, clearly stood for things like fiscal restraint and budget cutting. "Voters will wait to see what the Conservative party and the new leader stands for," Thomas said. "They will have work to do to produce a platform and to have the issues embodied in its leader, who will have to go head to head with a very experienced leader who, even though he may sometimes appear glib, has a very good grasp of the issues." Allen Mills, a political science professor at the University of Winnipeg who has written in the past about the Doer government's comfortable hold on power, acknowledged that there is a trend afoot. "It is an accumulation of a number of little things like the Crocus Fund, issues to do with the state of the highways and infrastructure and the sense that nothing is being done," he said. "Those things combined do create an opening (for change)." [email protected] Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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