by Riley Donovan

June 10, 2023

The outcome of the by-election in Portage-Lisgar, Southern Manitoba, will determine the future of conservatism in Canada. Maxime Bernier, head of the Right-wing populist People’s Party of Canada (PPC), is seeking to undo the dominance of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), which he argues is failing to uphold genuinely conservative values.

Outflanking the CPC from the Right

To outflank an establishment Right-wing party from the Right, the challenger is well disposed to choose an area dominated by the party’s base. Portage-Lisgar fits the bill. Unlike the Toronto and Vancouver suburbs so critical to Canadian elections, Portage-Lisgar is a solidly conservative, rural riding.

From its creation in 1997 until the present day, the riding’s electors have voted exclusively for Right-wing parties. This trend began with the Reform Party, continued with its successor, the Canadian Alliance, and was followed by the CPC. This staunchly Right-wing riding was represented in Parliament by Brian Pallister from 2003-2008, who went on to serve as Manitoba’s Premier from 2016 until 2021. From 2008 until 2023, it was represented by Candice Bergen, until she resigned her seat.

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