The NDP incumbent in Winnipeg Centre has won over voters with her commitment to reconciliation and human rights, securing an even greater mandate the second time around.
Cheers broke out at Leah Gazan’s re-election campaign headquarters on Ellice Avenue, after she was projected the winner of her riding shortly before 10 p.m. Monday.
"This is not mine, this is ours," she told a room of supporters. "This is our win."
The 49-year-old educator and community organizer handily won Winnipeg Centre; as of early Tuesday she had 48 per cent of total ballots cast with 95 per cent of polls having reported.
"Being the (MP) for Winnipeg Centre has been the greatest honour of my life — to represent a community that I love and adore... I wouldn't live anywhere else. I think it's the best riding in the country, and I would debate anybody who has a different opinion," Gazan told the Free Press.
Gazan, a member of the Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, faced opposition from Liberal candidate Paul Ong, a vice-principal who will return to work at a public elementary school in Winnipeg next week.
"I'm feeling very grounded and calm. I know that we've done our best," said Ong, 32, as he watched results with volunteers at Mangkok International Cuisine on Notre Dame Avenue.
The rookie politician secured approximately 30 per cent of total votes.
Political staffer Sabrina Brenot ran under a blue banner to represent the Conservatives. Bhavni Bhakoo, a multimedia artist, campaigned as a member of the People’s Party of Canada. The Green candidate was Andrew Brown, a local archivist.
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Since taking a leave from the University of Winnipeg to enter politics in 2019, Gazan has made a name for herself as an impassioned speaker, who is an environmentalist, advocate for Indigenous people, and proponent for a guaranteed livable basic income.
She introduced a private member’s bill in an effort to have the right to a clean, healthy and safe environment deemed a human right in 2019. More recently, she put forward a motion to denounce the Indian residential school system as genocide.
Gazan won 41 per cent of the votes cast in the 2019 election, during which she ousted Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette in a contentious race to win back the riding for the NDP.
Prior to Ouellette’s win during a red wave in 2015, New Democrat Pat Martin held the riding for six consecutive victories.
The riding has flip-flopped between NDP orange and Liberal red in recent history.
Maggie Macintosh Reporter
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.
Winnipeg Centre is a longtime NDP stronghold, though in 2015 Liberal challenger Robert-Falcon Oullette won the riding from incumbent NDP Pat Martin. In 2019 the riding returned to the NDP, with Leah Gazan winning over Oulette with 13,073 votes (41.2%), a 7.5 percentage point lead over the incumbent.