Cablegate: Canada Provincial Election: Manitoba Re-Elects New
UNCLAS OTTAWA 001636
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL CA NDP
SUBJECT: CANADA PROVINCIAL ELECTION: MANITOBA RE-ELECTS NEW
DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NDP)
Ref: Ottawa 01325
THIS MESSAGE IS A PRODUCT OF APP WINNIPEG.
1. SUMMARY. As expected, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and his
left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP) won a second
majority government in the June 3 elections. The Manitoba
NDP is a strong proponent of the Canadian Wheat Board
monopoly and a driving force behind Canadian opposition to
U.S. proposals to alleviate flooding of North Dakota's
Devils Lake. End Summary.
No Major Campaign Issues
2. The campaign featured no major issues and registered
relatively little enthusiasm among the Manitoba electorate.
Though voter turnout dipped to 55 percent (the norm is 69
percent), observers of Manitoba politics say the "low"
turnout is a sign of satisfaction with the status quo.
Aided by a strong economy and low unemployment rate, the
ruling NDP gained 3 new seats in the Legislature.
Preliminary results showed the NDP winning 49 percent of the
popular vote (vs. 44 percent in 1999). With 20 seats and 36
percent of the vote, the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party
will remain the official Opposition party.
No Change for U.S. Interests
3. We expect little change for U.S. interests in Manitoba
under the second Doer government. Manitoba will continue to
be a driving force behind Canadian opposition to inter-basin
water transfers (Devils Lake, NAWS, etc.) and support for
the Canadian Wheat Board headquartered in Winnipeg. At the
same time, Gary Doer places a premium on Manitoba's
relationship with the United States, which is the
destination for nearly 80% of Manitoba's exports. He has
been successful in quashing some of the anti-American
rhetoric within the provincial party, and was visibly absent
earlier this year when some of his Cabinet and Caucus joined
protests opposing U.S. military action in Iraq. Rarely is
the blatant anti-Americanism of the federal NDP publicly
manifested in Manitoba's NDP, though the sentiment is
4. The Premier enjoys close personal relations with
Ambassador Cellucci and the leaders of several states
(Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, South Dakota). He will press
ahead with further development of Manitoba hydroelectricity
generation potential, and actively solicit U.S. markets for
5. COMMENT. The NDP conducted a cautious campaign. In
resisting some pressure to adopt a more "leftist" agenda,
the party was able to hold greater appeal for the middle-
class suburban voters that tend to decide Manitoba
elections. Premier Doer's personal popularity and his image
as a centrist politician were key factors in enabling the
NDP to steal three suburban Winnipeg seats from Conservative
incumbents, as well as one open Conservative seat. Though
the NDP made province-wide gains in the popular vote,
however, it failed to make any significant breakthrough into
the PC's rural base.