By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives won a byelection in the Kirkfield Park constituency in Winnipeg Tuesday night, narrowly hanging on to a seat they had previously won handily.
The race went down to the wire. Tory candidate Kevin Klein won by a 160-vote margin over Logan Oxenham of the Opposition New Democrats. Manitoba Liberal Rhonda Nichol placed a strong third.
This is the last byelection before the provincial vote slated for next October, and comes at a time when the Tories are trailing the NDP in opinion polls.
“I think when the Winnipeg Jets win by one goal in overtime, they still win,” Klein said.
“A win’s a win”.
Klein, a former Winnipeg city councillor, entered the race after an unsuccessful run for the mayor’s chair. Oxenham, a juvenile correctional worker, focused on health care during the election campaign and talked about long wait times at the Grace Hospital in the constituency.
Klein won with 37 per cent of the vote in the race to replace former Tory cabinet minister Scott Fielding, who resigned in the spring. Fielding won Kirkfield Park with 50 per cent of the vote in the last general election.
One political analyst said the NDP were favoured by some to win the byelection, given the fact the Tories have been polling well behind the New Democrats in Winnipeg for two year now.
“What we saw in this race was the Tories snagged a high-profile, high-quality candidate and I think a lot of this result had to do with the fact that they got someone with a record and a profile,” Royce Koop, who teaches political studies at the University of Manitoba, said.
The Liberals almost doubled their vote percentage from the last provincial election. Nichol is a longtime nurse with decades of experience at the Grace Hospital. Koop called her a strong candidate who became the target of some NDP attention.
This was the third byelection since Heather Stefanson took over as Tory leader and premier in the fall of 2021 from former premier Brian Pallister. The Tories also narrowly won a byelection in another traditional Winnipeg stronghold — Fort Whyte — in March.