Rural Manitoba’s commitment to the Progressive Conservatives wasn’t shaken this election — but it was a different story in northern Manitoba, where the NDP won all four seats.
Historically, most southern rural Manitoba ridings have voted blue in provincial elections, and Tuesday’s vote, which returned Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives to power, is no exception.
Two northern Manitoba ridings lost by the NDP in 2016 — one to the PCs and one to the Liberals — went back to the Opposition party Tuesday.
Tory candidates, meanwhile, took all three Brandon ridings — Brandon East, Brandon West and Spruce Woods.
Brandon West Tory incumbent Reg Helwer defeated Nick Brown of the NDP, Robert Brown of the Greens and Liberal Sunday Frangi.
Len Isleifson held on to Brandon East — a seat he won for the PCs from the NDP in 2016 — defeating NDP candidate Lonnie Patterson, a popular city councillor.
In Spruce Woods, the newest Brandon riding, Cliff Cullen of the PCs won over New Democrat Justin Shannon, Liberal Jennifer Harcus and Green candidate Gordon Beddome.
Ministers defending seats
A number of Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers won their rural Manitoba seats.
In the riding of Red River North, Jeff Wharton of the PCs defeated New Democrat Chris Pullen and Liberal Noel Ngo.
Tory incumbent Cameron Friesen was re-elected in Morden-Winkler. The other candidates vying for the riding were Robin Dalloo of the NDP, Liberal David Mintz and Mike Urichuk of the Greens.
In Steinbach, Kelvin Goertzen of the PCs kept the riding he’s held since 2003.
All but one Tory cabinet minister will be back at the legislature — Colleen Mayer lost her Winnipeg seat of St. Vital to the NDP’s Jamie Moses.
Cliff Graydon, the embattled southern Manitoba MLA who was ousted from the Manitoba Progressive Conservative caucus in 2018, ran as an independent this time.
In the newly named riding of Borderland, formerly known as Emerson, Graydon lost to PC Josh Guenter. He was also up against Liz Cronk of the NDP, Liberal Loren Braul and Ken Henry with the Green Party.
Northern Manitoba seats go to NDP
Two northern Manitoba seats, though, went back to the NDP after voting PC and Liberal in 2016.
Voters in Keewatinook elected Liberal MLA Judy Klassen in the last provincial election after decades of NDP leadership. Klassen has left provincial politics, though, to run federally for the Liberals in the riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski.
NDP candidate Ian Bushie won the seat, defeating Liberal candidate Jason Harper and PC candidate Arnold Flett.
In Thompson, New Democrat Danielle Adams will triumph over PC candidate Kelly Bindle, whose party took the seat from the NDP in 2016.
And in The Pas-Kameesak, NDP’s Amanda Lathlin won over PC candidate Ron Evans, a former grand chief of the Manitoba Assembly of First Nations.
Christopher Adams, a political analyst with the University of Manitoba, believes the NDP solidified its hold on northern Manitoba. It also took back some other key places from the last election such as St. James, St. Vital and Transcona, while keeping the Liberals and Greens at bay.
“We have the centre-left in this campaign fragmented across three parties.… [The] NDP should feel happy about the outcome tonight,” he said.