With days until Manitoba elects its next government, Nadia Radi still isn’t sure who she trusts enough to vote.
The 33-year-old said she leans toward the NDP, but is tired of parties breaking their promises once they are elected.
“I just have a hard time believing politicians,” said Radi, who lives in the St. Vital neighborhood of Winnipeg. “They’re always trying to get your vote, right?”
Noel Cheguis, who lives in Selkirk and is outside Winnipeg, said he is leaning toward voting Progressive Conservative. While he hopes that his election will help address issues like inflation and crime, he is not convinced that any party can really change anything.
“A huge effort has to be made to solve many of the problems,” said the 64-year-old.
“I think it will take decades.”
SEE | Manitoba voters explain why they’re cynical about the election:
The two were among a group of Manitoba voters, including several from districts expected to be key in deciding the province’s next government, who shared their thoughts during a focus group a week before the Oct. 3 election.
The focus group was a collaboration between CBC Manitoba and Probe Research, which identified potential participants from its panel and selected nine at random to ensure a mix that was reasonably representative of Manitoba demographics.
When the nine voters were asked how many feel cynical about the idea of anything changing no matter who wins the election, four raised their hands.
Need to address the “trust deficit”
Andrew Barrette, who lives in McPhillips, Winnipeg, and is considering voting Liberal, said he has been disheartened by the way the major parties have focused on attacking each other.
“A lot of it is, ‘I stand up for everything that’s against that other person,'” the 37-year-old said.
That kind of dynamic can discourage voters from participating in the democratic process, said Christopher Adams, associate professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba.
“If you feel like politicians are not keeping their promises and not behaving legitimately, then you have less incentive to go out and vote,” Adams said.
Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said voter concerns raised in the focus group exemplify the “downward spiral” of trust in politicians.
Thomas said it’s healthy for democracy when people are somewhat skeptical of political promises. But voters see their elected officials “as corrupt, liars, criminals who [are] looking out for their own interests” creates a “trust deficit” that, he said, it is up to politicians to address.
“Trust takes time to build and can be lost very, very quickly,” Thomas said, adding that possible solutions could include reforming voting so people feel like their vote matters and improving access to information laws to create more transparency. around the government. .
Adams said he believes there will be greater voter turnout in this election, something the large number of early voters – because of how close some of the races are expected to be.
That includes voter Cheguis’ Selkirk ride and Barrette’s McPhillips ride, which was decided by only 88 votes in 2019.
Winnipeg’s Transcona race was won by a margin of 112 votes, while the city’s Southdale race came down to 483 votes. About a dozen others, including Radi’s in St. Vital, were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.
Concerns about financial plans
Voters in the focus group, like Jennifer Melcosky, said they were also concerned about how the parties will deliver on their promises.
Melcosky, 47, said he already voted early for the NDP in Brandon East, but hasn’t yet heard how they plan to fund their promises, from health care and addictions to poverty and crime.
“There’s a question, because Manitoba is struggling itself. So I don’t know where the funds are going to come from,” Melcosky said.
Bryce McEwen, who lives in Kildonan-River East, Winnipeg, agrees, but believes the same applies to other parties.
“No party has a really good plan for how to pay for it,” the 43-year-old said. “It’s pretty unfair to say the PCs are the fiscally responsible party, because they spend as much as the NDP. They just spend it on different things.”
SEE | Voters share concerns about how Manitoba political parties will pay for election promises:
Adams said it’s not surprising that the party’s explanations for how they will pay for campaign promises haven’t reached voters.
“It’s more exciting to look at the promise than the cost,” he said.
Voter Nigel Moore, 45, said he also wonders how whoever wins will fund everything he has promised.
And while he said he believes “all parties truly have Manitobans’ best interests at heart,” it’s up to Manitobans to make sure those good intentions are translated into action.
“I think there can be changes if the public demands it,” Moore said.