Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City a fortress for the NDP

But party loses Inkster to Liberal Lamoureux

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THE New Democrats strengthened their stranglehold over Winnipeg last night, winning 23 of 31 seats -- but they could be saying 'what if' today after losing the Inkster riding to Liberal Kevin Lamoureux.

The NDP took three Tory seats in Fort Garry, Seine River and St. Norbert, but the sweep might have been even stronger had the NDP received the 57 per cent of the vote that pre-election polls had predicted.

All three leaders won their seats -- Premier Gary Doer in Concordia, Tory Stuart Murray in Kirkfield Park, and Liberal Jon Gerrard in River Heights.

Despite fears that Murray and Gerrard were threatened in their own ridings, both won comfortably.

Conservative Bonnie Mitchelson narrowly managed to hold on to River East for a sixth term. Jack Reimer held off a strong NDP challenge in Southdale to gain a fourth term, and the Tories held on to their strongholds of Tuxedo, Charleswood and Fort Whyte.

It was Inkster that will have the NDP second-guessing today.

Cabinet minister Becky Barrett retired from politics, leaving the race to Mario Santos, who'd himself stepped down in October after 20 years as likely the most visible trustee on the Winnipeg School Division board.

Lamoureux resurrected his political career to regain the seat he'd held for the Liberals until losing to Barrett in 1999.

"This is a victory won with passion," an exultant Lamoureux said last night.

Six city New Democrats will sit in the legislature for the first time.

Bidhu Jha won the Radisson riding in Transcona, vacated by MLA Marianne Cerilli. Cerilli moved to Wolseley, but couldn't win the nomination there.

Rob Altemeyer won the nomination and Wolseley riding, succeeding retired cabinet minister Jean Friesen.

Kerri Irvin-Ross took Fort Garry from Joy Smith, Theresa Oswald defeated Louise Dacquay in Seine River, and Marilyn Brick took St. Norbert from Tory Marcel Laurendeau.

In Riel, New Democrat Linda Asper left politics, but school trustee Christine Melnick kept the seat for the NDP.

Bonnie Korzeniowski, re-elected for the New Democrats in St. James, said voters were comfortable with Doer's record.

Before the election, the New Democrats held 21 of Winnipeg's 31 seats, the Tories nine, and the Liberals had only Gerrard's River Heights seat.

Tory candidates were avoiding taking shots at the central campaign last night, but successful Charleswood candidate Myrna Driedger credited Doer for the NDP win: "Certainly what you have is a government and a leader -- probably a leader more than anybody -- who is very popular and was able to sway the public and convince the public that he had something to offer," she said.

Northeast Winnipeg

YOU still can't paint northeast Winnipeg completely orange.

Once again, former cabinet minister Bonnie Mitchelson became the only Tory MLA elected in that quadrant of the city after an evening in which the results see-sawed back and forth for almost two hours after the polls closed.

"It was a really, really tough race," Mitchelson said last night of her victory in River East. "We worked our hearts and souls out... it's a really good feeling. I look forward to rebuilding the party."

Earlier, NDP candidate Doug Longstaffe admitted, "I feel like I'm in a horse race."

Later, after the final results were evident, Longstaffe said, "Obviously, I'm disappointed. At the same time, the people have spoken and that's part of democracy. I'm very excited that the NDP has taken more seats than ever."

Elsewhere, the NDP cruised to victory.

Leader Gary Doer's win in Concordia was the first of many NDP victories to be declared when he crushed Tory candidate Conor Lloyd.

First-time NDP MLA Bidhu Jha won the Radisson riding, which was left with no incumbent after NDP MLA Marianne Cerilli tried to seek the nomination in her home riding of Wolseley.

Harry Schellenberg, who played giant-killer in the last election against Justice Minister Vic Toews, regained his seat in Rossmere with almost double the vote against his Tory competitor.

In Transcona, Daryl Reid was chosen by his constituents for a fourth time.

Longtime MLA Jim Maloway was victorious for a sixth term in Elmwood.

Southwest Winnipeg

THE New Democrats made two huge gains in the Tory bastion of southwest Winnipeg last night, winning seats in Fort Garry and St. Norbert.

Marilyn Brick brought St. Norbert into the NDP fold last night by knocking off Tory Marcel Laurendeau, an MLA since 1990 and before that a city councillor.

And Kerri Irvin-Ross duelled one-term Conservative MLA Joy Smith all night long before pulling out one of the election's narrowest victories -- an 84-vote win. Smith won the seat four years ago by only 30 votes.

"People were ready for a change in Fort Garry," Irvin-Ross said. "They felt the Gary Doer government had accomplished a lot."

The Tories held onto their traditional upper-income suburban seats. Myrna Driedger, elected in a 1998 byelection, is a three-time winner in Charleswood, while Heather Stefanson in Tuxedo and John Lowen in Fort Whyte won second terms.

Liberal leader Dr. Jon Gerrard increased his plurality over former Conservative minister Mike Radcliffe this time around, coasting comfortably to a second term.

NDP cabinet ministers Tim Sale in Fort Rouge and Diane McGifford in Lord Roberts were comfortably on their way to enormous margins of victory practically from the first poll reported.

Southeast Winnipeg

NEW Democrat Theresa Oswald knocked off three-term Tory and former speaker of the legislature Louise Dacquay in Seine River.

The NDP took four of the five seats in southeast Winnipeg, with the Tories holding on to Jack Reimer's Southdale seat for a fourth term.

Oswald, vice-principal at Victor Mager School, said working people throughout the riding told her how much they valued government spending on key services. "Everybody likes a cut here and there," she said, "but not at the expense of elderly people and children."

Dacquay was uncertain what role the performance of leader Stuart Murray, which has been criticized during the campaign, had played in her defeat.

"I'm not sure if he was a significant factor or not," said Dacquay.

"That's pretty amazing, eh?" said New Democrat Nancy Allan, who was re-elected in St. Vital. "They're really happy with what we've done, focussing on health and education."

NDP school trustee Christine Melnick -- a rookie when she was elected to Louis Riel school board last October -- held on to the seat vacated by fellow New Democrat Linda Asper, defeating one-time Tory MLA Shirley Render.

"Our strength in our first term is our record -- number one, our commitment to health care. Gary Doer is a fantastic premier," said Melnick.

Finance Minister Greg Selinger surprised no one by walking away with the St. Boniface seat for the second time.

Northwest Winnipeg

DESPITE a huge lead in the polls and the popular vote across the province, the ruling NDP was the only party to lose a seat in northwest Winnipeg last night.

Former Liberal MLA Kevin Lamoureux snatched back the Inkster seat he lost to NDP cabinet minister Becky Barrett in the last election. This time, with Barrett stepping down, Lamoureux defeated former longtime Winnipeg school trustee Mario Santos, who was carrying the NDP standard.

In Assiniboia, NDP MLA Jim Rondeau handily held his seat.

"I'm surprised -- I thought I was doing better than that," a bitter Tory candidate Dennis Wishanski said last night. "We will hold him (Rondeau) accountable."

Meanwhile, Kirkfield Park voters put Tory leader Stuart Murray back into the legislature.

In St. James, NDP MLA Bonnie Korzeniowski said "I'm ecstatic. You can never be too confident."

Cris Aglugub won in The Maples.

Doug Martindale easily won his seat in Burrows, while George Hickes, the House speaker, won in Point Douglas.

Industry Minister Mary Ann Mihychuk won in Minto, while Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh won in St. Johns.

In Wolseley, rookie MLA Rob Altemeyer defeated a field that included Green Party leader Markus Buchart.

Health Minister Dave Chomiak won in Kildonan, while MLA Conrad Santos kept his Wellington seat.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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