A new political party enters the provincial race
The newly formed Keystone party registered with Elections Manitoba on June 28th. This allowed the party to endorse candidates on a ballot in Manitoba’s next provincial election.
Although the Keystone Party is in its infancy, core ideals have already been developed that shape its identity.
According to the party’s “declaration of principles”, upholding the rights and freedoms of Canadians, preserving a capitalist system that promotes free trade and private enterprise, and limiting government powers with an emphasis on empowerment of local municipalities are distinct qualities of party identity. .
Keystone Party Leader Kevin Friesen believes that through this model, his government could help address some of Manitobans’ most pressing issues. Roads, infrastructure, health care, education and reconciliation top the list.
According to Friesen, the issues the party aims to address are “hot topics” concerning Manitobans.
“We didn’t train just to do one thing now. It’s a long term project, we hope it’s a viable option for a very long time.
Friesen also said his party can help students. He believes that today’s students are in a difficult position and deserve programs that will prepare them for long-term success.
He said the recession the province is entering will be “very, very difficult” for students.
“It’s going to be very difficult to get your feet under them.”
One of Friesen’s priorities is to establish programs to help students acquire this foundation,
“A lot of you are going to be entrepreneurs and you’re going to want to start businesses, you’re going to do these things and it’s going to be very difficult. I think we all need to work together to move things in a very different direction than they are right now.
Another topic that has quickly become an incarnation of the party is its stance on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On July 15, Friesen voiced his disapproval of the measures at the party’s public launch at Vimy Ridge Memorial Park.
With a tough stance against COVID-19 measures, traditionally right-wing views, and a color palette that features mostly purple, similarities can be spotted between the Keystone Party and the People’s Party of Canada.
Even so, Friesen says there is no affiliation between the two parties. He says the purple found in his party’s logo is the result of a lack of options available due to the colors chosen by other parties, and that the difference between the two parties is more than meets the eye. it seems. Friesen points to his party’s “bottom-up” approach, with less centralized power in the leadership as the main difference between the two.
Friesen said he did not believe the two parties would ever have an affiliation.
However, he acknowledges that many have called the party right-wing. Although this may be popular opinion, Friesen disagrees. He says the Keystone party has a lot of leftist ideas and says that compared to other political parties in Manitoba, it is relatively in the middle of the political spectrum.
“I honestly think we’re a center party and politics has moved so far to the left that we’re looking to the right,” Friesen said.
“We would definitely have a right-wing lean when it comes to things like fiscal responsibility and getting our province out of the hole we’ve dug, so people would put us on the right when it comes to that. They would definitely put us on the right track when it comes to reducing the size of government and involving government less in people’s lives.
“The two parties that have the majority of the seats right now, they’re so left right now that we would definitely get the better of them, but I would still say we have a central thought.”
Professor Allen Mills disagrees with Friesen’s assessment.
The former head of the University of Winnipeg’s political science department says the NDP remains in the middle of the left wing of the political spectrum, while the Progressive Conservatives continue to occupy the centre-right.
Mills thinks the Keystone party could be going through a tough time while trying to gain long-term support.
He said having opposing views on COVID-19 measures might not be enough to sway centre-right voters in a Progressive Conservative party.
On health care, Mills said he doesn’t see current Conservative voters leaving the party.
“I’m not sure it has any big implications for the provincial Conservative party,” he said.
“I think they’re nimble enough to take away any kind of worry people have about warrants, because I think that’s the issue that drove this particular development.”
Mills speculates that the Keystone party might find support in towns where there was concentrated resistance to public COVID-19 measures in southern Manitoba. Even so, he still doesn’t think it will affect support for the Progressive Conservatives in that region, or give the Keystone party any long-term momentum there.
“This kind of concern may well resonate in southern Manitoba ridings where there was various resistance […] in places like Winkler, and Morden, Steinbach,
“I don’t see the provincial Conservatives can’t avoid this by adjusting to their concerns.