Despite losing Tuesday’s election, Brandon East Manitoba NDP candidate Lonnie Patterson said that she isn’t feeling the full brunt of defeat.
The Manitoba NDP closed the provincial election with 18 seats —a six-seat jump from the time of dissolution and four seats from the 14 they earned in the 2016 election.
"Manitobans are paying attention to what the NDP has to say — that there are Manitobans who are trusting us to take a progressive voice to the Manitoba legislature," she said on Wednesday after helping clean up the party’s local campaign office.
After earning 2,311 votes to Progressive Conservative incumbent Len Isleifson’s 3,727 in the hotly contested Brandon East constituency, Patterson now reverts back to her pre-campaign position in the Manitoba NDP executive. As vice-president of the Brandon-Southwest region, she said that she will continue to bring Westman voices to the legislature through those 18 Manitoba NDP candidates who were elected on Tuesday.
"I have always been a voice for Brandon and Westman within the NDP —that will continue," she said. "I know that my colleagues that ran for the NDP are also committed to making sure that (local voices are) passed along, and we’ll also work hard to get members of caucus out here in Westman to listen to people one on one."
Patterson said that she was proud to come out in a bold way this election cycle to address the area’s addictions crisis, which she will continue to work on doing.
Health care and job creation are two other key areas Patterson said she was proud to engage in with the community during the election, and that both issues were brought up at the doorstep a great deal.
Coming in third in Brandon East was Liberal candidate Kim Longstreet, who earned 799 votes.
These results aren’t too far off from the 2016 election, when Isleifson earned 3,669 votes for the PCs, Drew Caldwell earned 2,534 for the NDP and Vanessa Hamilton secured 830 for the Liberals.
Patterson’s optimism was also shared by Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew on Tuesday night during his concession speech.
"I don’t think we were defeated tonight," Kinew said. "This is the highest amount of seats I have ever been a part of in terms of the New Democrats. … So I’m very happy about that."
Among the 18 Manitoba NDP candidates elected on Tuesday was Kinew himself, who reclaimed his seat in Fort Rouge.
Kinew said his next step is motivating a new swath of NDP politicians to get out and connect with Manitobans as the Official Opposition.
The New Democrats now have more new legislature members than veterans.
Kinew had polled more favourably than Tory Leader Brian Pallister throughout the campaign. But both leaders remained unpopular on a personal level.
Kinew’s future as leader is uncertain because the NDP holds a mandatory leadership review after an election loss.
Kinew’s controversial past was easy fodder for the Tories during the campaign. Using attack ads, social media and talking points, the Progressive Conservatives highlighted his previous misogynistic rap lyrics and online posts. Ads also focused on domestic violence allegations made by Kinew’s former partner. He has denied them.
Kinew said he plans to remain on as leader.
Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said he expects the party will continue to support Kinew.
He said it wouldn’t benefit the New Democrats to get new leadership at this time, as it will likely take two election cycles for the party to be real contenders again.
"It would help if they got lucky and Pallister made a serious mistake," Thomas said.
Nahanni Fontaine, who retained her St. John’s seat, said Kinew held himself with dignity during the PC attacks. She said the NDP is united and rebuilding takes time.
"I’m proud of this new caucus," she said. "You are only going to see it get better and better."
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from The Canadian Press