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Health Minister Oswald tearful after win against Steeves

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NDP health minister Theresa Oswald gave a tearful thank-you to her supporters as they celebrated her win against former city councillor Gord Steeves in Seine River.

Oswald admitted she was tense before the poll results from the tight race rolled in.

With only a few polls to go, Oswald's camp declared victory after they were 700 votes ahead of Steeves.

Oswald said Steeves is a politcally savvy and experienced opponent who launched a challenging campaign.

She said she believes her campaign that focused on accessible health care and affordable daycare  resonated with voters. An emotional Oswald said she knew there would be a few tears tonight, but that they were "earned."

"I'm just so proud today to be standing here and so incredibly honoured to be in this role ," she said, flanked by her husband Sam and son, Jack.

 Oswald's win was one of a few key Winnipeg seats that both the NDP and the Tories had their eye on.

Steeves, a lawyer and veteran city councillor, is good friends with Tory leader Hugh McFadyen and resigned his seat in June to help the Tories to try and unseat Oswald.

Both candidates acknowledged the riding's importance to their respective parties, and spent much of their timing campaigning in the ward.

The tight-race even prompted two former Manitoba Liberal MPs, John Harvard and Anita Neville, to endorse Oswald.

Oswald was first elected in 2003 in a surprise election victory against three-term Conservative incumbent Louise Dacquay. She was appointed as health minister in 2006.

Meantime, Gord Steeves gambled his city council seat and lost.

"It has been a long time since I was on this side of the ledger," Steeves told his supporters during a concession speech.

"You just never know how it is going to go... We felt we were moving towards change. Obviously, that wasn't the way it went.".

Now Steeves will have to decide whether he will now throw his hat into the byelection for the St. Vital council seat — a byelection only made necessary by his failed attempt to become a MLA.

Steeves said he would mull his options over the next two days. "Here's a hint: I'm looking forward to starting off in a new direction."

But Steeves earlier told his supporters, "Perhaps this loss will make victories in future feel sweeter."

It was just a few months after Steeves unsuccessfully attempted to change provincial rules requiring councillors to give up their seat to run provincially.

Steeves, a lawyer by profession, was first elected as a councillor 10 years ago and was most recently chairman of the protection and coomunity services committee which overseas the police. He is also a past president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Steeves is married and has three children.

History

Updated on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 8:45 PM CDT: Updates with reaction at Steeves camp

8:49 PM: Corrects typo in Steeves' name

8:54 PM: Updates numbers

9:22 PM: Adds photo

9:24 PM: Updates numbers

9:28 PM: Steeves concedes.

9:47 PM: updates with complete writethru, quotes from Steeves

9:57 PM: Updates with Oswald

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