Former professional boxer Dan Vandal has faced a number of challengers in and out the ring. Chalk up Monday night as a successful title defence.
With almost one-quarter of polls reporting, the Saint Boniface-Saint Vital incumbent was well on his way to becoming one of a handful of Liberal MPs re-elected in Manitoba.
As of 10:20 p.m., Vandal had captured about 44 per cent of the vote, with 64 of 183 polls reporting — which appeared to secure him a second term in office. (Vandal first won the seat in 2015, with a comfortable 14,000-vote cushion.)
Conservative challenger Réjeanne Caron was polling second, with 28.9 per cent of votes reported at the time. (For full results, visit winnipegfreepress.com.)
Vandal has been the Liberals' point man on Métis and francophone issues, and Shoal Lake 40 First Nation's "Freedom Road," serving as parliamentary secretary to the minister of Indigenous services. He is a former Winnipeg city councillor and deputy mayor, and was a top-ranked Canadian middleweight in the early 1980s.
Vandal told the Free Press his team was "always confident we were going to win this riding" — though they were also hoping for a Liberal majority government.
"If it's a minority government, I mean, we'll work on policies that Canadians want. And I'm sure we'll be able to find some willing dance partners with some of the other parties," he said.
About 50 Liberal campaign supporters gathered at the Norwood Hotel to watch the results come in, while Conservative voters descended on the Canad Inns Destination Centre Windsor Park.
The night began with some non-election excitement, as Vandal's campaign party was briefly evacuated when an alarm went off due to a small kitchen fire.
Evacuees from Manitoba's heavy snowstorm last week were also staying at the hotel and invited to attend the gathering.
Meanwhile, at Caron's party, about 15 supporters had gathered early on, including a man wearing a grey T-shirt with an image of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the statement "go to jail."
Caron, a Métis woman who has worked for the Winnipeg Police Service for 25 years, was running for elected office for the first time in what was expected to be a tight two-way race.
Caron said, "We did what we could, we did the best that we could, and that’s all we can do."
"For those who are younger, you win some, you lose some, and I really think we all won together tonight."
"There was a lot of voters, we didn’t quite make it but that’s life and here we are and we’ll fight harder the next time."
NDP candidate Billie Cross, Green candidate Ben Linnick, People's Party candidate Adam McAllister and Baljeet Sharma (independent) also ran in Saint Boniface—Saint Vital.
By press time, only about 40 per cent of votes had been counted.
— with files from Nicole Buffie
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Monday, October 21, 2019 at 11:16 PM CDT: Photo added.
12:24 AM: Quote added.