Election fever starts nine month ahead of the big day

Let the predictions begin

For the political-minded junkies among us, 2011 will certainly be a busy year.

With the threat of the federal government falling over its yet-to-be introduced federal budget, the electoral machine of Ottawa is on standby.

However, there will definitely be an election this year in Manitoba; in the late summer and into fall, the ads will roll out, the signs will be put up and pamphleteering will begin.

Manitoba will have its general election on Oct. 4, 2011, whether we like it or not.

The NDP have said they’re confident they’ll be re-elected; the Manitoba Liberals believe they’ll pick up many seats and win a protest vote; and the Progressive Conservatives say the province is hungry for change, and that it’s time to kick the NDP to the curb and bring in new people to government.

But is there as much lust for change among voters as the PCs claim there is?

Is there that smoking gun issue that will make people ready for an election and see the opposition ready to pounce?

Has the province been so badly run in the past four years that voters are hungry to throw out the incumbents and elect a new government?

Economically, Manitoba has fared much better than much of the Western world after the economic crash of 2008, with unemployment never going above six per cent.

Even in the midst of the crash, our economy still grew, continued to grow in 2010 and is expected to grow at under three per cent in 2011.

Our provincial GDP debt currently accounts for 22 per cent of our GDP, which may seem to be a high number. However, it’s the fourth lowest in the country, and for those fuelling the fire about a debt problem in Manitoba, these allegations continue to be unfounded.

In terms of debt, Manitoba is still faring better than most other provinces.

With the province heading to an election this fall, there does not appear to be enough impetus for a change in provincial government

A major topic on many voters’ minds come October will be Manitoba Hydro’s proposed Bipole III line down the western side of Lake Winnipeg.

This continues to come up in the papers, and the PCs feel it will be their ace in the hole to catapult themselves to power.

Mind you, PC leader Hugh McFadyen also thought this about his plan to bring the Jets back in 2007.

A new report has been released by the Bipole III Coalition, who studied the Bipole III proposal and the capacity of the transmission lines.

The report stated that at the end of the construction of the Conawapa and Wuskwatim dam projects, regardless of whether the Bipole III is put down the east or west side of Lake Winnipeg, Manitobans will also need a fourth transmission line.

It should be noted that the Coalition favours the east side route.

McFadyen can keep crying foul over the Bipole III line, but the experts have said that not only do we need a third line, we also need a fourth line in the near future if we want to keep expanding Manitoba Hydro and keep Hydro exports and expansions up.

Wind and hydro power are Manitoba’s keys to catapulting itself to economic prosperity and helping our neighbouring provinces kick their dirty sources of power.

With the province heading to an election this fall, there does not appear to be enough impetus for a change in provincial government.

Manitoba has fared well and there is no obvious issue that will cause enough anger among voters.

I predict that the PCs and the Liberals will try and paint a bleak picture if the NDP are re-elected, but the NDP will prevail and usher in another four years of stability for this province.

Andrew Podolecki is a first-year politics student at the University of Winnipeg.

Published in Volume 65, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 3, 2011)

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