News Manitoba

Rural - urban split concerns Pedersen

MLA for the forrmer Carman, Blaine Pedersen easily won the new constituency of Midland for the PCs.

MLA for the forrmer Carman, Blaine Pedersen easily won the new constituency of Midland for the PCs.

By Glen Hallick

The Valley Leader

Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen had a strong warning to the NDP following Tuesday's election results that showed a stark rural-urban split - don't forget about rural Manitoba.

The NDP won 37 of the 57 constituencies that were up for grabs October 4. Only 11 of those NDP wins were outside of Winnipeg, and just two of those 11 (Brandon East and Dawson Trail) are in southern Manitoba.

"Rural Manitoba is in for a terrible time in this coming term. The NDP's power base is in Winnipeg, other than a sprinkling of rural seats. And they will listen to those who put them in government," Pedersen said.

Midland voters overwhelmingly chose Pedersen to be their MLA for the next four years.

Pedersen scored 5,133 votes, good for 69.2 per cent of the ballots cast. That's up from the 58 per cent he received in the former Carman riding in the 2007 provincial election.

"Well, it's certainly humbling to get that kind of support from across the constituency," Pedersen said. "People have their faith in me to show a win like they did. I certainly appreciate that."

With recounts pending in some ridings, the Tories won only 19 seats, which was the same number they had going into the 40th provincial election. Only four of their tally are in Winnipeg and the rest are in southern Manitoba.

However the two main parties were much closer in terms of the province-wide popular vote, with the NDP over 45 per cent and the Tories at around 44 per cent. The Liberals saw the 12.4 per cent in 2007 cut in half.

When asked if the decline in Liberal support meant more votes for the NDP, Pedersen had a different perspective, especially when it came to Winnipeg voters.

"I think it's the rural-urban divide. It was always said the urban can't see past the Perimeter, they have Perimeter vision. I don't believe they can even see the Perimeter anymore," Pedersen stated.

"They (Winnipeggers) have a job, they have the Jets, they have the Bombers, they have their cottage, provided it's not flooded out. Life is good, don't think about the big problems. That's a huge urban-rural divide that we have right now."

Pedersen said it came as a surprise when PC leader Hugh McFadyen announced his resignation, but suggested it was probably the best thing for the party. The Midland MLA said he has no intention of running for the Tory leadership.