- The decline of the Liberal party in Manitoba politics
- Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d'études canadiennes
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 10, Number 1, February 1975
- pp. 24-41
- View Citation
- Additional Information
tion for the Third Law of the Sea Conference, Time: 1610 (time is given rather than pages in proceedings). 36. An important unilateral action was the assertion of pollution zones in the Arctic. See: Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, Chap. 47, 18-19, Eliz. II, 1969-70. Canada also modified her acceptance of the International Court's The decline of the Liberal party in Manitoba politics* JOHN WILSON New governments in the Canadian provinces seldom last for only one term. It was therefore hardly surprising that the Manitoba electorate was willing in 1973 to continue the innovation in the province's politics which had been begun in 1969 with the election of the New Democratic Party. Nor is it very difficult to discover the principal factors contributing to the NDP's current success. While observers have differed substantially over the kind of importance which should be attached to the 1973 result - ranging all the way from Donald Swainson's characterization of it as a modest but nonetheless decisive mandate" 1 to Cy Gonick's condemnation of the party for its cynical submission to the natural temptations of electoral politics2 - no one has failed to recognize the vital role which Ed Schreyer's popularity as a leader has played in welding together the coalition of social forces which keeps the NDP in office. Nor is there much doubt that the party's policies have proved attractive. On the eve of the 1973 election3 very few people in Manitoba , whether they intended to vote NDP or not, were prepared to say that the government had not done a good job over the previous four years (see Table I). Even with what was universally recognized as the most controversial innovation of Mr. Schreyer's administration - the introduction of public 24 jurisdiction. A detailed study of this Issue can be found In Donat Pharand, The Law of the Sea of the Arctic (Univ. of Ottawa Press, 1973) and R. St. J. Mac.donald, The New Canadian Declaration of Acceptance of the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, 8 Canadian Yearbook of International Law, p. 3 (1970). automobile insurance (see Table II) - a majority of the supporters of each party appeared to think that the government had done either a very good or a fairly good job. And although the expected patterns of partisanship could be seen when the sample of the Manitoba electorate on which this study is based was confronted with the different candidates for the premiership, Table Ill shows the extent to which support for Mr. Schreyer cut across ordinary party lines to make him the leading contender for the office by a substantial margin. But attractive leadership and a generally satisfactory administrative record are merely two of the most important elements in the operation of a political system, and they are often only a small (although frequently very prominent) part of the explanation of particular patterns of political change. Many other aspects of an election - for example, the existence of an unusually high degree of interest in its outcome (the level of turnout in 1973 was higher than at any time since the coming of full political democracy to Manitoba4 ) - also contribute to the overall result. And since these kinds of things may reflect changes which are taking place at a rather more fundamental level such that the election in which they occur may come to represent a kind of watershed in the development of a particular system, a closer examination of them when the opportunity presents itself may prove to be worthwhile. The Evolution of the Manitoba Party System There is some ground for supposing that Revue d'etudes canadiennes Table I What kind of job has the Manitoba government done since 1969? Provincial Voting Intention (March 1973) Refused to say, Conservative NOP Liberal Undecided, etc. 0 /o O/o 0 /o o;O Very good 3 22 4 5 Fairly good 57 75 62 57 Not very good 23 2 23 19 Pretty bad 15 7 10 No opinion 2 1 4 9 N 332 374 174 208 Table II What sort of job has the government done with automobile insurance? Provincial Voting Intention (March 1973) Refused...