Oh the tears and lamentations ....
Not at the headquarters of the also-rans in the Fort Whyte by-election, but in the offices of the media pundits who were joyously anticipating a humiliating loss for the Conservatives.
Their pre-vote month-long campaign of villification of Conservative Party leader Heather Stefanson had bombed. Big time. On election night she was the one popping champagne as her press attackers were choking on bitter ashes.
The Winnipeg Free Press was sitting on a Probe "survey" predicting the Conservatives were doomed in the next general election. It was to run on the front page of the Saturday newspaper to rub the loss in Stefanson's face--- until the Fort Whyte by-election shattered Probe's crystal ball.
The Probe survey story by fake news specialist Carol Sanders was shunted to Page 3 and replaced by a front page story on a 1981 high school basketball team.
The "experts" had to scramble to fund a new narrative. CBC's Bartley Kives settled on 'nobody won, every party lost' while the Free Press NDP spokesman Dan Lett rejigged the story he planned to write to revel in all the bad things it meant for the Conservatives to lose Fort Whyte, if only they had lost Fort Whyte.
The pundits were so stunned that their predicted outcome failed to happen that they entirely missed the real results of the first electoral measure of the political landscape post-Covid.
There were two big winners in the Fort Whyte by-election. Obby Khan will soon be sworn in as the newest member to sit in the Manitoba Legislature, joining his colleagues on the government benches.
And new Premier Heather Stefanson will return to the Legislature with new confidence, if not swagger, having the last and longest laugh on her critics.
But it's the story of the losers of the by-election that deserves the most attention. And there's a raft of them.
Start with Liberal Party leader Dougald Lamont, he with the comic-book name. The Fort Whyte by-election is probably his swan song. Nobody expects much from the leader of a fringe party like the Liberals, and Lamont has lived down to expectations.
He was elected an MLA in 2018, raising the total of Liberal seats to four and thereby boosting the Liberals into official party status within the Legislature. But nine months later, despite his 'inspiring' leadership, one of his caucus announced she was leaving to run federally, instantly relegating the Liberals to political limbo again. Strike one.
Lamont failed to elect a fourth member in the 2019 general election to replace the lost Liberal, losing even her vacant seat. Strike two.
And he tossed everything he had into the Fort White campaign, accusing the Conservatives of everything but the weather to get headlines. And he still lost. Strike three.
Losing candidate Willard Reaves declared he would be back to contest the seat again in the next election, but watch carefully for he might just be back as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba.
Then there's Wabanakwut Kinew. You haven't heard much from Wab since the Fort Whyte byelection, which should be a big tip-off that the press is protecting him from public scrutiny as hard as they can, again.
There's been almost no discussion on why the NDP vote cratered in Fort Whyte. The NDP candidate came in a dismal third, with the party losing a whopping third of its votes from the 2019 election. Is this the guy that Probe Research says is a shoo-in to be the next Premier?
What happened? The issues in Fort Whyte are the same issues in the rest of Winnipeg that are supposed to catapult Kinew to the top job? Why are party supporters abandoning him now?
Two words describe Kinew's future as leader of the NDP--- Arlen Dumas.
Yes that Arlen Dumas, the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the lobby group representing all Manitoba reserves.
In 2019 the AMC learned of complaints by women against Dumas. In a nutshell, he was hitting on them and refusing to take 'no' for an answer.
The chiefs' organization closed ranks around Dumas and rejected calls for an investigation. He eventually took a leave of absence to "heal." Then he bounced right back to be Grand Chief unrepentant.
But this month new complaints arose. This time from a staff member at AMC who accused him of harassment and, more significantly, of sexual assault. The police are investigating. But unlike 2019, there has been picketing of AMC offices to demand removal of Dumas from his job.
"I don’t think that anybody who has an allegation of sexual assault against them should be still in their position," said Wab Kinew's fellow MLA Nahanni Fontaine, potentially sealing Wab's fate.
For, you remember, when Wab Kinew was running for the NDP leadership in 2017 he promised to be transparent about his run-ins with the law when he was a violent drunk in younger days. He, ahem, forgot to mention the two charges of domestic assault laid against him regarding his alleged treatment of a girlfriend in 2003.
At the time, Nahanni Fontaine said she believed the woman, but she was still supporting Kinew because, uh, he had changed and wouldn't drag a woman around by her hair or put her on a balcony so that she feared he would push her off. Uh uh. not the "new" Wab.
An anonymous source leaked the old charges to the news media, which then began a campaign of attacking the leaker instead of investigating the charges. It was only after The Black Rod shamed them for not asking Wab's former girlfriend for her story, that any reporter took the allegations seriously.
Even then, the press waved off the charges, adopting Kinew's line that the charges had been investigated and dismissed as invalid. Not a single reporter asked Kinew to tell his side of the story. Was he saying the woman was lying? He'll get his chance to answer that question during the next election campaign.
Things have changed since 2017 on how aboriginal women excuse mistreatment by aboriginal men. Just ask the newly suspended Arlen Dumas.
And finally, notice that nobody analyzing the Fort Whyte election is talking about the obliteration of the Green Party. Out of a potential 15,907 voters (according to Elections Manitoba) the Greens only attracted 55. That's fifty-five.
They lost 610 votes from the 2019 general election. That's a loss of 92 percent of their support. The independent candidate in the race collected almost twice the support of the Green Party.
It's interesting that if you add the people who abandoned the Green Party to the people who abandoned the NDP, you get slightly more than the increase in the Liberal Party support in Fort Whyte. Curious, eh.
Published since 2005 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever by the aboriginal signatories to treaties in 1871.