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Squires topples NDP stronghold in Riel


PC Rochelle Squires won the Riel riding Tuesday night.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

PC Rochelle Squires won the Riel riding Tuesday night.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/4/2016 (1218 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There was no four-peat for incumbent Christine Melnick and the second time was the charm for the PC's Rochelle Squires in Riel.

Squires won the seat Tuesday night in the Riel riding, which had been an NDP stronghold thanks to Melnick's popularity over the past several years.

Melnick, a third-generation NDP-CCF member who was raised in the constituency, saw her star fall since 2011 when she won close to 55 per cent of the vote and a third term as MLA.

Squires is a former newspaper journalist who became the party spokeswoman before becoming a candidate. She raised her children as a single mom, put herself through university and holds a master’s degree in fine arts.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/4/2016 (1218 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There was no four-peat for incumbent Christine Melnick and the second time was the charm for the PC's Rochelle Squires in Riel.

Squires won the seat Tuesday night in the Riel riding,  which had been an NDP stronghold thanks to Melnick's popularity over the past several years.

Melnick, a third-generation NDP-CCF member who was raised in the constituency, saw her star fall since 2011 when she won close to 55 per cent of the vote and a third term as MLA.

Squires is a former newspaper journalist who became the party spokeswoman before becoming a candidate. She raised her children as a single mom, put herself through university and holds a master’s degree in fine arts.

Squires, who lost to Melnick in 2011, attributed her victory to hard work.

"After the 2011 campaign, my team re-grouped and we've been campaigning hard for the past two years," Squires said. "I'm excited.

"Manitobans voted overwhelmingly for a better government. They gave us a strong mandate."

Squires would not speculate about a cabinet post, adding she's ready to work with her new caucus in whatever role asked of her.

Melnick was gracious but feisty in defeat.

"I really believe in democracy. I'm a New Democrat, I'll be very involved in the party as we reorganize and very invoked in whatever comes next for the NDP," Melnick said.

"I am concerned about this new government. We have a leader who will not confirm where the half billion dollar cuts will come from."

She celebrated her Manitoba roots as she reiterated her belief in Manitoba's Democratic system.

"I'm the youngest child, the fifth child, in a working class family, and I think it's amazing to live in a place where you can come from a meagre beginning, join a party, run for the party, get elected and be part of governments. I think this is a wonderful statement about our democracy here in Manitoba.

Melnick may have been hurt at the polls by the NDP's overall unpopular standing after Greg Selinger raised the PST but her own political troubles may have followed her.

She had been demoted from cabinet in 2013 and became embroiled in a bitter battle with Selinger in early 2014 over her role in directing a senior civil servant to invite organizations providing services to immigrants to attend a debate at the legislature two years earlier.

After she accused the premier’s political staff of making her a scapegoat in the controversy, she found herself tossed out of the NDP caucus.

Melnick initially maintained Selinger’s senior staffers directed her department to issue the invitation but later admitted to the provincial ombudsman’s office she had lied and she had issued the directive.

After sitting as an Independent in the legislature for nine months, she was invited back into the NDP caucus in November 2014 and supported candidate Steve Ashton in the March 2015 NDP leadership contest.

Last week in a show of unity, Selinger made a health-care policy announcement in Riel with Melnick seated at his side.

In 2011, Melnick had won 5,352 votes with 3,916 by Squires while the Liberal candidate in Riel received fewer than 500 votes.

—-with files from Larry Kusch

Ashley Prest

Ashley Prest
Reporter

Ashley works the general assignment beat.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 11:04 PM CDT: Adds quotes from Melnick

April 21, 2016 at 11:44 AM: Corrects number of elections for Squires.

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