WINNIPEG — Manitoba is seeing blue.
For the first time in 17 years, Manitoba has changed its governing party, as the Progressive Conservatives won Tuesday’s election with a majority of Manitoba’s 57 seats.
PC Leader Brian Pallister will become Manitoba’s 22nd Premier.
The leader of Manitoba’s New Democratic Party, Greg Selinger lost his role as premier, the province’s right-of-centre party, swept the province. He’s been leading the province since 2009.
Pallister made his victory speech Tuesday night at the PC headquarters. It was an emotional response from the crowd and Pallister and his wife madetheir way through the crowd, hugging and kissing his supporters.
“What a great night,” Pallister told cheering supporters. “The only thing better than tonight in Manitoba is tomorrow.”
“Manitobans are going to walk out into a beautiful spring morning and the sky is going to be blue.”
The New Democrats have been in power since 1999, but have faced voter anger since they raised the provincial sales tax in 2013. That broke a previous campaign promise Selinger made, and sidestepped a requirement under the province’s balanced budget law to hold a referendum on tax increases.
Selinger barely survived a leadership race last March, after a party revolt led to five key cabinet ministers to step down.
His approval among Manitobans was also an all-time low right before the campaign kicked off on March 16. A February 2016 Angus Reid poll showed his approval rating as the lowest of any premier in Canada, falling from 22 per cent in December to 19 per cent in February.
“I don’t think things started to go wrong on this campaign. I think we have had strong local campaigns, really great candidates, and our volunteers have worked really hard,” said Jeremy Read, Campaign director for the NDP party.
“Obviously, the people in Manitoba have gone and voted and it hasn’t resonated with them this time around.”
For the first time this century, Manitoba is changing its governing party. Only three PC leaders have become premier since the 1950s: Duff Roblin, Sterling Lyon, and Gary Filmon.
But Pallister’s popularity was well above Selinger and Liberal Party Leader Rana Bokhari throughout the campaign, and polls during the election consistently showed the PCs leading.
The former Canadian Alliance MP has a few gaffes on his political resume, including once saying that Halloween is bad for the integrity of children. He also issued a Christmas greeting that included a reference to “infidel atheists,” and was questioned during the campaign about the extensive time he has spent vacationing in Costa Rica.
While Selinger faced major hurdles heading into the election, Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari also struggled.
The party had several setbacks on the campaign trail, including having Elections Manitoba reject some candidates for improper paperwork.
After several years of Liberal and NDP victories in provincial elections across Canada, right wing parties have won two elections in as many weeks, with Selinger’s victory following Saskatchewan Party leader Brad Wall securing a third term in Saskatchewan.
With files from The Canadian Press