Canadian Jewish News CJN Internet Edition
September 30, 1999     Tishrei 20, 5760

Jewish candidates defeated in Manitoba
Prairie Correspondent

WINNIPEG- All three Jewish candidates running in last week's provincial election in Manitoba were defeated, but for Lawrie Cherniack, the battle is not yet over.
The Winnipeg lawyer was the NDP standard-bearer in a traditionally strong Conservative riding in south Winnipeg. Nonetheless, he came within 19 votes of pulling off a major upset. At press time, the hospital and prison votes were still to be counted, and with a margin of victory that narrow, there will be an automatic recount.
"There will be a recount, but I am not hopeful," he said. "I don't expect to win it. I am happy that my party won the election."
Cherniack has deep socialist roots. His grandparents, the late Alter and Fanya Cherniack, were founders of the I.L. Peretz Folk School and prominent leaders in Winnipeg's left wing Yiddishist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Alter Cherniack was among the founders of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
Lawrie Cherniack's father, Saul, was a cabinet minister in the first NDP government elected in Manitoba and served in the the cabinet during both of Ed Schreyer's terms in office (1969-1977).
Lawrie Cherniack himself was a Winnipeg city councillor at one point and a member of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council. This was his first run for office provincially.
For Liberal candidates Rochelle Zimberg and Michael Lazar, their campaigns were impossible missions from the beginning. Lazar, a prominent younger member of Winnipeg's Jewish community, ran in the north Winnipeg riding of Kildonan, where the majority of the north Winnipeg Jewish community resides.
While it was expected that Lazar would at least finish a strong second, he actually finished well back in third place,

more than a thousand votes behind the second place Conservative candidate and 5,000 shy of the incumbent NDP MLA.
"The results were disappointing," said Lazar who has been a member of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council since 1989, "but percentage-wise my results were in line with the Liberal vote province wide. My staff and volunteers worked hard and we learned a lot. My strong feeling is that the people wanted to get rid of the Conservatives and felt that the best way to do it was to vote NDP."
Zimberg was the Liberals' sacrificial lamb in Tuxedo, the riding held by outgoing Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon. Like Lazar, Zimberg, the former longtime executive director of the Manitoba Association of Urban Municipalities, finished a distant third.
The collapse of the Liberals led to the election of the New Democratic Party, led by Gary Doer, bringing to an end the 11-year administration of Gary Filmon. The final count was 31 seats for the NDP, 25 for the Conservatives and one for the Liberals (Liberal leader Dr. Jon Gerrard in the heavily Jewish River Heights riding).
Filmon was a good friend to the Jewish community throughout his tenure. He grew up in the largely Jewish North End. His father spoke Yiddish and an aunt married a Jewish man and converted to Judaism.
During his time in office, he supported the construction of a Holocaust Memorial on the Legislature grounds, and his government was a major contributor toward construction of the Asper Jewish Community Campus.
He and his wife, Janice, were instrumental in initiating the flow of Argentine Jewish families to Winnipeg in the last couple of years. In recognition of his friendship, both B'nai Brith and the JNF have honored Gary Filmon.
In conceding defeat and announcing his resignation as party leader on election night, Filmon went out as the class act he has always been.