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This article was published 19/10/2015 (1433 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It came down to the very last poll.
New Democrat Daniel Blaikie snatched victory from Conservative incumbent Lawrence Toet, after a night when the lead repeatedly switched back and forth.
"We won," a jubilant Blaikie told supporters early Tuesday morning, as the small crowd of supporters whooped and hollered to celebrate.
The Blaikie camp said their unofficial count showed the rookie politician took the riding by 184 votes: Blaikie, 14,832; Toet, 14,648.
The news came in at 12:20 a.m.
"We knew it was going to be close and I’m just really glad we won," Blaikie told reporters.
The tension was just as great down the road in Transcona, where Toet supporters were eagerly waiting for the outcome.
"We knew it was going to be a tough fight again … we had no illusions about that," Toet said. "We went out and we worked hard."
Toet shrugged off talk about a possible recount. Well, almost.
"We will see what we do going forward. I congratulate Daniel at this point in time of running a great campaign," Toet said. "We’ll see the final, final numbers and take a look at that (Wednesday)."
Elmwood Transcona was the only Winnipeg riding the NDP were able to win and the Regent Avenue hotel where Blaikie held his election night HQ became the gathering point for the party faithful from across the city and even a losing candidate – Suzanne Hyrynyk, who finished third in the nearby riding of Kildonan St. Paul.
"Boy oh boy, this is close," said Bill Blaikie, Daniel's father and the riding's former MP from 1979 to 2008.
The senior Blaikie had been at the New Cavalier Hotel, the Blaikie election night HQ, since before the polls closed. He said his biggest margin of victory had been 11,000 votes and the smallest was 215, but he marvelled at how close his son's first election had turned out to be.
"We thought it would be close," the elder Blaikie said after his son claimed victory.
"We had lunch together and I told him it's out of his hands."
At Toet’s campaign party at The Oak in Transcona, each supporter of his clung to the edge of their seat, sending up prayers and well wishes to an anyone who would listen during the unprecedented race in the 42nd federal election.
"We worked hard, it was a tight race, especially against the Blaikie name," said Peter Martin, Toet’s co-campaign chair. "We were cautiously optimistic. It was very close last time, it jumped around. In the end, we want the desire of the voters."
There was a subdued crowd at the New Cavalier Hotel for most of the night — the Liberal sweep across the country cast a pall at this working class hotel.
The crowd erupted into cheers and applause when Blaikie did arrive, shortly after 11 pm
Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, said he remained hopeful Blaikie could pull off a victory.
Sandy Boyd, president of Unifor Local 681, said the NDP focused its efforts on this riding in the past two days.
"Calls went out to come here instead of other ridings," Boyd said. "I've been knocking on doors since two o'clock this afternooon.
Blaikie appeared to have the edge in this election when the writ was dropped. Polling in mid-August, by the strategic voting organization Leadnow, showed Blaikie had 39 per cent support, with Toet at 30 per cent support. But a month later, the riding was a statistical tie, with Toet at 39 per cent and Blaikie at 37 per cent.
The riding had been targetted by Leadnow, one of several organizations which called on strategic voting to defeat the Harper government.
Leadnow had identified Elmwood-Transcona as one of the key swing ridings across the country that could be taken from the Conservatives, largely as a result of its history: The NDP held the riding from 1979 to 2011 (Jim Maloway carried the New Democrat banner for one term following the elder Blaikie’s retirement).
Toet took the riding for the Conservatives in 2011 by a slim 300 votes but he fell short Monday night.
Blaikie was born and raised in Transcona. He graduated from the U of W with a BA Honours in history and philosophy, and later a Masters in philosophy from Concordia. But unable to find a career in academics, Blaikie had been an electrician since 2011, where he was active with his union (IBEW 2085) and on the executive of the Winnipeg Labour Council.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.
Updated on Monday, October 19, 2015 at 11:07 PM CDT: Updated.
11:14 PM: Adds Storify.
12:45 AM: Adds new image.
12:59 AM: Updated.
1:16 AM: write-through
October 20, 2015 at 12:41 PM: Corrects time reference.