In 1998, Manitoba’s Conservative government was oozing confidence and appeared certain to cruise to re-election under Premier Gary Filmon. But when a local radio reporter began to investigate rumours about Conservative dirty tricks in the last provincial election, he broke open the scandal that led to a riveting public inquiry, and ultimately to the fall of the government. The Conservatives’ vote-splitting scheme was equal parts detective story and comedy of errors, tragedy and farce. Because it had occurred in the hardscrabble Interlake region, carried out by a wildly eccentric cast of characters, some media commentators dismissed the story as a low-rent scandal conducted by political hillbillies. But in fact the caper was masterminded by the premier’s principal secretary and supported by two of the province’s most distinguished entrepreneurs.
“As Many Liars”
The Story of the 1995 Manitoba Vote-Splitting Scandal
In 1995, senior members of the Conservative government of Manitoba perpetrated one of the most heinous political crimes in Canadian history. They tried to rig an entire election. Doug Smith has done a masterful job with his highly readable, sometimes even humorous and always cogent book. It should serve as a warning to politicians of all stripes who come to believe in their divine right to rule.” – Frances Russell, Winnipeg Free Press Columnist