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PCs make history, oust NDP after nearly 17 years in power

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/4/2016 (1186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There has never been a blue wave in Manitoba politics quite like this one.

After nearly 17 years on the sidelines, the Progressive Conservatives have returned to power with a knockout blow that left a trail of defeated New Democrat cabinet ministers and forced leader Greg Selinger to throw in the towel.

At the same time, the Tories avoided a repeat of the Sharon Carstairs success in 1988 as the Liberal party was left licking its wounds and leader Rana Bokhari unsure of her political future.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/4/2016 (1186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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There has never been a blue wave in Manitoba politics quite like this one.

After nearly 17 years on the sidelines, the Progressive Conservatives have returned to power with a knockout blow that left a trail of defeated New Democrat cabinet ministers and forced leader Greg Selinger to throw in the towel.

Brian Pallister takes the stage at PC headquarters as the Premier Elect.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Brian Pallister takes the stage at PC headquarters as the Premier Elect.

At the same time, the Tories avoided a repeat of the Sharon Carstairs success in 1988 as the Liberal party was left licking its wounds and leader Rana Bokhari unsure of her political future.

Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister and his wife Esther celebrate his party's election victory with candidates and supporters in Winnipeg, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. Pallister's Progressive Conservatives routed Premier Greg Selinger and the NDP to put an end to 16 years of orange power. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

CP

Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister and his wife Esther celebrate his party's election victory with candidates and supporters in Winnipeg, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. Pallister's Progressive Conservatives routed Premier Greg Selinger and the NDP to put an end to 16 years of orange power. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

"I’m tremendously humbled by what has happened here," Tory Leader Brian Pallister told a jubilant crowd at the party’s celebrations Tuesday night.

The man who will be the province’s 22nd premier said he wants to turn Manitoba into a ‘have’ province.

"Manitoba is not a have-not province," he said. "It’s a have province waiting to happen."

The scale of the victory the 61-year-old Tory led his party to is unheard of in Manitoba politics. Not only is it the largest seat count ever but possibly the highest share of the popular vote ever.

"What a great night!" he said at the PC headquarters, surrounded by many candidates and his wife, Esther, and their daughters Shawn and Quinn.

The PCs won 40 seats, the most since the legislature expanded to 57 seats in 1949.

Tory headquarters was rocking with excitement as the results rolled in. Whoops went up as NDP seats such as Kirkfield Park, Assiniboia and St. Norbert went Tory blue.

The PCs not only won back much of their traditional turf in south and west Winnipeg, but in bedrock NDP seats such as Transcona.

The Tories took every seat in southern Manitoba outside of Winnipeg and even made inroads in the north, knocking off longtime NDP heavyweight Steve Ashton, who would’ve been seen as rock-solid when the campaign started five weeks ago.

In sharp contrast to the jubilation surrounding Pallister was the growing despair surrounding what remained of the once-powerful NDP government.

Selinger resigns

Selinger told the crowd of NDP supporters he had offered his resignation to party president Ovide Mercredi and took full responsibility for their defeat.

"I am completely accepting of the decision tonight by the people of Manitoba," Selinger told reporters. "If there is one thing you got to believe in when you’re in politics, you have to believe in democracy."

Selinger, who won his St. Boniface seat, said the party executive will take steps to name an interim leader shortly.

The bottom line from the ballot box had several NDP cabinet ministers losing their seats, including Health Minister Sharon Blady in Kirkfield Park and Finance Minister Greg Dewar in Selkirk. In total, at least 10 cabinet ministers were set to lose their seats.

Greg Selinger gives his his wife Claudette a kiss on the stage at the NDP post election gathering at the RBC Convention Centre.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Greg Selinger gives his his wife Claudette a kiss on the stage at the NDP post election gathering at the RBC Convention Centre.

"It is a tremendous loss, and I do hope some of those folks are staying involved in the community and are making their way back into political life," Selinger said. "It just kills me to see people that have worked their hearts out for the people of Manitoba and constituents to lose their seat."

However, fresh faces such as indigenous candidates Wab Kinew in Fort Rouge and Nahanni Fontaine in St. Johns were elected, bringing in a sense of renewal for the party.

Bokhari finished a distant third in her Fort Rouge riding — won by Kinew — but the party appears to have won three seats: veteran Jon Gerrard in River Heights, Cindy Lamoureux in Burrows, and in a huge upset, Judy Klassen in Kewatinook. She was on track to beat cabinet minister Eric Robinson.

Bokhari held only a brief scrum with reporters, in which she refused to discuss her leadership future.

"It’s not a conversation I want to have today," Bokhari said, before staff whisked her away.

The Liberals almost doubled their popular vote. It was their best public support in decades, Bokhari pointed out.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS </P><P>Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari did a quick scrum and then hugged her followers and fellow candidates.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari did a quick scrum and then hugged her followers and fellow candidates.

She praised her "fantastic candidates" but added "it was a tough game. We’re running with zero dollars. Resources are always a challenge."

Pallister paid tribute to Selinger, saying he had "great respect" for him for withstanding a challenge to his leadership last year.

Pallister told reporters afterwards that he plans to be at work early Wednesday to begin the process of forming government.

"There will be a lot of transitional work that will have to get done very quickly. But I’m excited to have that challenge. It’s a project I have dreamed of and now I have the chance to undertake it," he said.

He did not indicate when he would name a cabinet, but said he will announce a timetable soon. He confirmed that he would call a spring session of the legislature.

Asked if there would be gender parity in his cabinet, Pallister said that was not possible yet since there were only two PC female caucus members returning from the last legislature.

"I don’t think it would be fair to put people who are brand new too rapidly into extremely demanding roles in cabinet," Pallister said.

He said the Tory victory was not just a repudiation of the NDP but a nod to the fact that the Progressive Conservatives offered Manitobans a good alternative.

"We have run a very principled, very real campaign…We didn’t try to buy votes."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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A return to the family farm before returning the Tories to power
Photos by: Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pallister picks his tunes before beginning his run.</p></p>
Since entering politics, Brian Pallister always returns home to the family farm the night before voters deliver their verdict on him. (PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Brian Pallister runs the gravel roads by his family's farmstead near Edwin, which is southwest of Portage la Prairie, Monday evening as part of a pre-voting-day tradition. </p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pallister pauses for a time of reflection at his grandparents’ gravesite.</p></p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pallister visits the two-room school he attended.</p></p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pallister jokes around at the old bunkhouse built by his grandfather at the family homestead.</p></p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pallister gathers his notes to prepare his election-night speech.</p></p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pallister finds some quiet time to work on a speech that marks the Tories’ return to power.</p></p>
History

Updated on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 8:30 PM CDT: updates

8:36 PM: Updated.

9:20 PM: Updates.

9:37 PM: update headline

9:49 PM: Updates

10:38 PM: Updates with Selinger resigning as NDP leader.

11:07 PM: Photo added.

11:15 PM: Writethru.

11:35 PM: Adds Selinger quote, updates numbers.

11:55 PM: Freshens art.

1:12 AM: Factbox added.

April 20, 2016 at 2:06 AM: Slideshow added.

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