Parties look to flip Conservative heavy Brandon-Souris riding
It's the home stretch for federal parties as election day draws closer and candidates in the Brandon-Souris riding are looking to make the most out of the time left.
Traditionally blue, the Conservatives are looking to hold down the riding, but other parties are hoping to leverage the changing demographic and are keen for an upset.
Incumbent Conservative candidate Larry Maguire is hitting the federal campaign trail for the fourth time.
"It's an opportunity to be able to make sure we recover from COVID-19. It's the most important issue we are facing and our plan will take care of it," said Maguire.
A veteran politician, Maguire has spent most of his life in the riding.
"Well, I grew up from Brandon-Souris about 45 minutes southwest of the city in a little town called Elgin, went to university here. I've farmed here all my life until I got into politics," Maguire said.
Maguire first ran as a Progressive Conservative in 1993. He lost that election and moved to provincial politics, where he served as an MLA for many years.
Maguire made the switch back to federal politics when he won in the 2013 by-election.
The second biggest riding in the province, Brandon-Souris offers some challenges.
According to Curtis Brown, a political researcher at Probe Research, Brandon-Souris has a changing demographic with both rural and urban voters.
"So there is definitely some more liberal or leftist-centre support provincially," noted Brown. "At times, the NDP won in Brandon itself."
Looking to cash in on that support is NDP candidate Whitney Hodgins.
Hodgins has been a mental health and disability advocate in the area for more than a decade and said she'd champion those issues if elected.
"Definitely, mental health and disability issues are top priority for me, especially right now in the pandemic. I'm also interested in the economic recovery," she said.
Also on the Brandon-Souris ballot are Liberal candidate Linda Branconnier and PPC candidate Tylor Baer.
"If you're tired of the status quo, I'd say look into the PPC because we are doing politics differently and intend to serve the people first," said Baer, whose platform is based on axing vaccine passports and mandates.
With election day looming, Brown said the other parties like the PPC will make things more interesting in the riding.
"The question is whether the PPC might peel off any support from the Conservatives, but they also might get support from people who have voted Green in the past or who just do it as a none of the above sort of thing," said Brown.
According to Brown, the Brandon-Souris riding is also unique in that the Green Party does not have a candidate running for the area.