On May 2, when Canadian citizens go back to the polls for the fourth time since 2004, voters in the Manitoba riding of Winnipeg South will choose between incumbent Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge and Liberal candidate Terry Duguid.
Rob Bruinooge, who holds a political science degree from the U of M, was first elected in 2006 before being re-elected in 2008 with 48.84 per cent of the vote over Liberal candidate John Loewen.
The south end of the city has seen some major developments in the past few years, making it the fastest growing area in Manitoba, according to Bruinooge, MP for Winnipeg South.
With waves of new residents, the need for investment and enhancement of infrastructure has escalated.
Bruinooge cited the enhancement of roadways, the expansion of Kenaston Boulevard to the perimeter and the support for the provincial plan of creating a public transit route directly to the U of M as responses to those challenges.
According to Bruinooge, much of his focus has been to build a stronger relationship with the University of Manitoba by advocating for issues affecting the university community and by seeing new money invested in the U of M.
“I think I can safely say that I have, as an MP, been very active in relationship to post-secondary education and I think I’ve done a good job on that front,” he said.
Bruinooge said he would like to see changes in how students are funded, which would include a transition away from the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation and towards a model that is more needs-based.
Duguid, who moved to the riding a couple of years ago, said although he has been in office before as a Winnipeg city councillor, this election holds importance.
“It’s about a shocking abuse of power on the part of a prime minister who simply will not accept the will of the people. It is fundamentally undemocratic, and I am happy to be in this election to be fighting for what a friend called ‘a righteous cause,’” he said.
Duguid mentioned Michael Ignatieff’s announcement of a “Learning Passport” as an example of the Liberal’s dedication to higher education.
“The Liberals are offering a totally different vision of Canada. Open government, investments in families and education, instead of fighter jets, mega prisons and corporate tax cuts,” he said.
“I hope that Canadians, especially young Canadians, will see what is at stake”.
Although some students in the riding won’t be taking advantage of their right to vote this time around, others have already made their decision.
Steven French, a University 1 student, said he is already a “decided voter.”
“I’m going to decline my ballot. [ . . . ] It’s better than not voting because you’re actually making a statement saying ‘I care enough to come here, but I don’t approve of these people,’” he said.
Nadine Janzen, a fine arts student, said she will be voting Conservative this year.
“I think Harper has done a decent job of keeping the economy stable,” she said.
Peter Stepaniuk, a third-year science student said: “All their platforms look really similar to me, and I feel like if we have a Conservative government or a Liberal government, in the big scheme of things, it’s the exact same.”