Despite a recent investigation showing that he’d violated respectful workplace policies five times, Rick Wowchuk was one of several Progressive Conservative candidates re-elected in rural Westman ridings.
As with the last election, the Tories swept Westman, winning all five of the rural constituencies surrounding Brandon.
Every constituency but one had their boundaries shift for this election cycle as a result of the final report from the 2018 Manitoba Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission.
In Westman, population losses in Swan River, Dauphin and Riding Mountain "resulted in significant changes to the boundaries of these electoral divisions," the report said.
Under the boundary change, the northern section of Arthur-Virden — north to Hamiota and south to Reston — was folded into the constituency of Riding Mountain.
Arthur-Virden was also split into the newly created constituency of Turtle Mountain in the southwest corner of the province. Riding Mountain now extends much farther south than it did in the last election, stretching all the way south to Pipestone.
Incumbent Brad Michaleski triumphed in the Dauphin constituency for the Progressive Conservatives, defeating Darcy Scheller for the NDP and Catherine Scofield-Singh for the Liberals. However, Dauphin was one of the closest races in Westman.
As of 10:30 p.m. with 53 of 74 polls reporting, Michaleski had 49.4 per cent of the vote compared to 43.4 per cent for Scheller and 7.2 per cent for Scofield-Singh.
The Dauphin constituency changed significantly in the 2018 electoral boundary shifts. The easternmost section was added to Swan River, while it gained significant territory in both the north and south.
The PC sweep is on trend with the 2016 election, when they took 60.2 per cent of the vote, dwarfing the NDP’s 23.6 per cent, Green Party’s 7.5 per cent, followed by the Liberals and then the Manitoba Party.
As of press time, The Sun was unable to reach any Dauphin candidates for comment.
In Turtle Mountain, Progressive Conservative incumbent Doyle Piwniuk triumphed over NDP candidate Angie Herrera-Hildebrand, Liberal candidate Richard Davies and Green candidate David Neufeld.
As of 10:30 p.m., Piwniuk had a comfortable 67.4 per cent of the vote. Neufeld was in second place with 14.9 per cent of the vote, Herrera-Hildebrand was in third place with 11.1 per cent and Davies with 6.7 per cent.
"I’m going to be so honoured to represent the Turtle Mountain constituency," Piwniuk said. "One of the best things during the election time was to meet different people that supported me in the southern area of Arthur-Virden and getting to know the people I now represent in Turtle Mountain up in the east of Boissevain."
He added that he wants to make sure that there is a voice representing the area, even within his own party.
Piwniuk is the former MLA for the now-defunct constituency of Arthur-Virden.
Greg Nesbitt reclaimed his seat for the Progressive Conservatives in Riding Mountain. He beat out NDP candidate Wayne Chacun, Liberal candidate Jordan Fleury and Green candidate Mary Lowe. Nesbitt was the first candidate to be declared a winner in Westman.
As of 10:30 p.m., Nesbitt had 66.5 per cent of the vote, with Chacun in second with 21.1 per cent, Lowe in third with 7.7 per cent and Fleury in last with 4.7 per cent.
"It’s very gratifying to win an election and I’m very thankful for the support I’ve received here in Riding Mountain tonight," Nesbitt told The Sun. "In my first term, I certainly tried to be a good constituency MLA. I tried to take good care of my constituents. I did travel over 8,000 kilometers within the constituency during the campaign."
Nesbitt said that the first thing on the agenda when the legislature reconvenes is this year’s budget.
Chacun said over the phone that he was grateful for everyone that offered him their support during the campaign.
"I got out and knocked on doors and tried to talk to people, but I was also working full-time and the time was limited, but I found that people were putting a lot of though into their vote," Chacun said. He said he is returning to work as a paramedic.
The PCs earned 69 per cent of the vote in the 2016 election, followed by the Liberals with 13.2 per cent, the Green Party of Manitoba with 10.1 per cent and the NDP 7.8 per cent.
In Agassiz, incumbent Progressive Conservative candidate Eileen Clarke retained her seat. As of 8:55 p.m., Clarke had 85 per cent of the vote with 15 out of 60 polls reporting.
She defeated Green candidate Liz Clayton, NDP candidate Kelly Legaspi and Liberal candidate Hector Swanson.
As of 10:30 p.m. with 57 out of 60 polling stations reporting, Clarke had 75.5 per cent of the vote, Legaspi had 12.9 per cent, Swanson had 6.1 per cent and Clayton had 5.5 per cent.
"I thought it was pretty calm and collected," Swanson said about the race. He said that he didn’t see much of the NDP candidate during the race.
Swanson told The Sun that he didn’t expect to win, but wanted to be a local presence pushing for better health care during the campaign.
"That was my main objective, to put the hospital out there front and centre," Swanson said. "They’ve been promising us a replacement hospital for the one we’ve got for the last 14 years. When you try to talk about it, it’s all very hush-hush and quiet — you’re not supposed to talk about it. I made it a priority to talk about it."
Voting percentages appear to be on track with the 2016 election where the PC’s took 74.8 per cent of the vote, followed by independent Damian Dempsey with 12.9 per cent, the NDP with 6.4 per cent and the Green Party of Manitoba with 5.8 per cent.
Despite the controversy he faced this election cycle, Progressive Conservative incumbent Rick Wowchuk retained his seat by a comfortable margin in Swan River.
He beat Liberal candidate David Teffaine and NDP candidate Shelley Wiggins.
When reached for comment, Wiggins said she hadn’t had time to process the night’s events but congratulated Wowchuk on his victory. She added that she will stay active in politics whether as a candidate for the NDP or working for the party behind the scenes.
As of 10:30 p.m., Wowchuk had 68.8 per cent of the vote compared to 26 per cent of the vote for Wiggins and 5.2 per cent for Teffaine.
An internal report found Wowchuk breached the Manitoba Legislative Assembly’s respectful workplace policy five times over the course of the last three years, including one instance where he showed his legislative assistant a photo of a naked woman. A June 11 letter from Judy Wegner, executive director of the legislative assembly’s administration branch, said Wowchuk also remarked that he also almost "FaceTimed" his assistant while in the bathtub and made a comment about the assistant wearing a bikini.
In an emailed statement sent by a PC spokesperson, Wowchuk said he deeply regrets the comment he made and takes full responsibility for his actions. He said he fully accepts the third-party examination and report that was conducted.
The Sun asked the party for contact information for Wowchuk, but did not receive a response.
In 2016, the PCs won by 56.2 per cent, followed by the NDP with 33.1 per cent, the Liberals with 6.6 per cent and the Green Party of Manitoba with 4.1 per cent.
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