By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Newly released documents show the Manitoba Liberals outspent their opponents in a summer byelection that gave party leader Dougald Lamont a legislature seat.
The documents filed with Elections Manitoba show the governing Progressive Conservatives spent the least of any major party, despite having raised much more money than anyone else.
The byelection in the St. Boniface constituency last July was called after former NDP leader and premier Greg Selinger resigned at the request of his successor, Wab Kinew.
The NDP spent $35,000 trying to retain the seat, which they had held since 1999, while the Liberals spent $40,000 and won.
The victory gave the Liberals official party status in the legislature for the first time in two decades, along with extra money for staff and research.
The Tories spent $23,000 — less than 10 per cent of what they raised during the campaign — and finished fourth behind the Green party, which spent $10,000.
All figures are combinations of spending by the local candidate and party headquarters.
A political analyst suggests the low Tory spending is probably a sign that the party wanted to help Lamont win, thereby splitting the opposition.
“Whatever the Conservatives can do to float the Liberal vote is going to be good for the (Conservative) party, so that might have played a role as well, absolutely,” said Royce Koop, head of political studies at the University of Manitoba.
“The Tories do better when the Liberals are there to split the centre-left vote in Manitoba.”
The Tories are also likely to have realized they had little chance of winning the seat, Koop said. St. Boniface has traditionally switched between the NDP and the Liberals.
The chief executive officer for the Tories said they spent less because the party focused on volunteer door-knocking.
“We were fortunate in the St. Boniface byelection to have a large and enthusiastic team of volunteers supporting our outstanding local candidate, Mamadou Ka,” Keith Stewart said in a statement.
“As such, our local campaign team was able to focus efforts on door-to-door canvassing — the most low-cost/high-value way to conduct a campaign.”
Tory spending was 34 per cent lower than the $35,000 the party spent in a byelection last year in Point Douglas — a longtime NDP stronghold.
All four parties ran surpluses for the St. Boniface byelection and spent well below the maximum of $95,000 set by Elections Manitoba.