This election was held only one year after the previous general election of 1914. In that election, the governing Conservatives of premier Rodmond Roblin were confirmed in office with 28 seats out of 49. In early 1915, however, the Roblin administration was forced to resign from office after a commission appointed by the Lieutenant Governor found the government guilty of corruption in the tending of contracts for new legislative buildings.
Roblin denied the charges, but resigned as premier on May 12. Three days later, opposition Liberal leader Tobias Norris was called upon to form a new administration. The house was quickly adjourned, and new elections were scheduled for August.
The primary issue of the campaign was corruption. The pro-Liberal Manitoba Free Press ran numerous articles criticizing the practices of the Roblin government, and alleging that the "Roblin machine" still controlled the Conservative Party. The Liberals claimed they would manage the province's affairs in a businesslike rather than a partisan manner, an approach typified by Provincial Treasurer Edward Brown call for the province to "forget party for five years and get down to business".
Women's suffrage and temperance were also important issues. The Liberal Party promised to introduce voting rights for women, and to hold a provincial referendum on temperance. The party's platform also promised direct legislation and plebiscites on other issues.
Faced with mounting unpopularity in the wake of the corruption scandal, the Conservatives chose federal Member of Parliament (MP) James Albert Manning Aikins as their new leader on July 15. Aikins had never served in the Roblin government, and was regarded by many as free from the controversy which took the Conservatives from office. In a further effort to separate themselves from the Roblin government, the Conservatives referred to themselves as the "Independent-Liberal-Conservative" party for this election. The Liberals ridiculed this name change, and sarcastically described the "new" Conservatives as the "Purity Party".
The election results were a disaster for the Conservatives. The party won only five seats out of 47, and Aikins lost by a considerable margin in Brandon City. The Liberals under Norris won a landslide majority with 40 seats, the largest victory in Manitoba history. In the city of Winnipeg, Fred Dixon was re-elected as an independent candidate with support from both the Liberals and the Labour Representation Committee. The Social Democratic Party also won its first ever seat in the province, taking one of two constituencies in north-end Winnipeg.
Manitoba's francophone constituencies rejected the provincial trend, and continued to support candidates of the Conservative party (four of the five Conservative MLAs were from francophone areas). Many francophone voters opposed Norris's plans to end provincial funding for denominational Catholic schools.
The "Independent-Liberal-Conservative" name seems to have been dropped shortly after the election.
|Party||Party leader||# of
|1914||Elected||% Change||#||%||% Change|
|Conservative||James Albert Manning Aikins||28||5||-82.1%||33.0%|
Winnipeg North "A":
Winnipeg North "B":
Winnipeg Centre "A":
Winnipeg Centre "B":
Winnipeg South "A":
Winnipeg South "B":
The Pas, August 25, 1915:
Horace Halcrow had been nominated by the Conservatives to contest this riding, but withdrew before the election. Halcrow had been Manitoba's chief game warden under the Roblin government.
Rupertsland (new constituency), September 16, 1916:
(A Winnipeg Free Press report from November 20, 1917 shows Westwood winning by 186 votes, with one poll yet to declare.)
(Numbers taken from the Winnipeg Free Press.)