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Wiebe sweeps all polls in Concordia for NDP

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WINNIPEG — Matt Wiebe is the new Gary Doer but with a beard.

The former constituency assistant to Doer, before Doer stepped down as premier to become Canada's ambassador to the United States, is the new MLA for Concordia.

Wiebe, 31, won handily last night in a byelection outcome that surprised no one.

Wiebe took all 40 polls including the advanced, finishing with about 60 per cent of the vote.

The Elmwood resident and University of Manitoba economics grad finished well ahead of second place candidate Progressive Conservative candidate Brian Biebrich with 2,065 votes. Biebrich earned 694 ballots.

"This is an incredible dream come true," Wiebe said, standing next to Premier Greg Selinger. "I'm proud that he is my new boss."

Selinger said Wiebe's win confirms support for the NDP is solid in northeast Winnipeg.

"I think he will be an excellent MLA for many decades to come," Selinger said of Wiebe.

Biebrich said he found comfort in the support he got.

He also said he's considering running again in 18 months in the general election.

Liberal Judi Heppner got 613 votes and Green Party candidate Ellen Young finished with 134 votes.

Wiebe takes his seat in the legislature for the March 23 provincial budget and spring sitting.

Concordia has long been a safe NDP seat. Doer held it for 23 years as MLA and later as premier. NDP MLA Peter Fox held it for five years before Doer took it over.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives have been mumbling since the byelection was called that Wiebe’s victory was inevitable. Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen confirmed that on Tuesday when he told reporters the party was not holding its breath on a possible upset victory in the NDP stronghold.

McFadyen said last night despite the second-place showing voter support this time around in Concordia is the lowest it's been since Premier Howard Pawley's NDP was in government two decades ago.

Wiebe’s victory also signals the lifting of a month-long gag on government announcements. Elections Manitoba forbids government funding announcements during a by-election campaign, but the Selinger government took it further to only allow the most critical news releases, such as last week’s first spring flood briefing.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

 

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