A very close byelection race in Manitoba's Brandon-Souris riding ended late Monday night with Conservative Larry Maguire edging out Liberal Rolf Dinsdale.
With all polls reporting, Maguire secured 44.1 per cent of votes, compared to 42.7 per cent for Dinsdale, according to unofficial results from Elections Canada.
In terms of vote count, Maguire had 12,205 votes compared to Dinsdale's 11,814 — a difference of 391 votes.
"Watching this is a bit of a nerve-wracking event…. I honestly didn't know what I was going to be doing on Tuesday morning. But now we do, and I'm extremely proud of that," Maguire told supporters in Brandon, Man., after his victory was confirmed.
as hard as you need. And if I'm not, let me know about it, because we need to continue to make sure that this area is represented with a strong voice in Parliament and I have the pleasure and opportunity now to be able to do that."
In third place was the NDP's Cory Szczepanski with 7.4 per cent of the vote, followed by the Green Party's David Neufeld with 4.9 per cent. Frank Godon of the Libertarian Party secured one per cent of the vote.
Brandon-Souris has been a longtime Tory stronghold, but the Liberals and NDP had hoped to capitalize on voters' anger over the Senate expenses scandal and a controversial Conservative nomination process that disqualified two potential candidates because of incomplete paperwork.
Maguire, a prominent former Manitoba MLA, was criticized for not attending two of the four candidates' debates and for a series of attack ads against Dinsdale during the campaign.
Dinsdale was accused of being a parachute candidate from Toronto, even though his father was the Progressive Conservative MP in the riding for more than three decades.
Royce Koop, a political scientist at the University of Manitoba, says the fact that Brandon-Souris was such a close race may be embarrassing for the Conservatives.
"This is a very conservative riding. Tories under normal circumstances should be able to win this kind of constituency with a solid margin," said Koop.
"The fact that they weren't able to do that, it's not a good outcome for the party. There's an undercurrent there that they really have to pay attention to, I think."