Thomas Steen

'It's been a great experience,' Conservative candidate and former Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen said of his unsuccessful run at the Elmwood-Transcona seat. (CBC)

The Conservatives have filed a complaint with Elections Canada over a what they're calling "voter irregularities" in Winnipeg's Elmwood-Transcona riding.

Don Plett, party president for Manitoba, said a ballot box was taken out of a mobile polling station and Tory scrutineers weren't informed. It was missing for 23 minutes, he said.

There was also an unusually high number of spoiled ballots, Plett said, and other problems in the riding, where the NDP's Jim Maloway prevailed over the Tories' Thomas Steen.

"There were people literally wearing t-shirts with NDP logos on them that were coming in and swearing in more than one person, which is contrary to the Elections Canada Act," he said.

"The number of spoiled ballots that there were, a number of ballots went missing, and so there is a range of things. I described it as a case of voter fraud," he said.

Plett filed the complaint with Elections Canada early Tuesday afternoon, when the discrepancies were brought to his attention, he said.

Tough battle: NDP

Elmwood-Transcona has been an NDP stronghold for 29 years under former MP Bill Blaikie, who retired from politics.

Maloway, who has represented Elmwood in the provincial legislature for more than 20 years, had a 1,700-vote margin over his Tory rival, a local hockey legend the NHL's now-defunct Winnipeg Jets.

"The Conservatives were very strong out there, as they were in the whole city, and we knew that and we had to battle that. It was a very big factor," said Maloway, 55.

Although he won the seat, Maloway said he's not taking anything for granted, especially given the tenuous nature of a minority government.

"Clearly there could be another election very soon, in the next few months, so I have to get working starting tomorrow to, you know, improve our position here in the riding to make sure that we win it by even a bigger margin next time," he said.

'Sort of the playoffs': Steen

Steen's thoughts on his loss reflected his sports background: "It's been 38 days of campaigning, and today is sort of the playoffs. So we came up short.

"I knew what area I went into: it's been NDP for years, and I knew it would be tough," he added.

"They've been NDP for many years, so I think they're used to that. But I think we could have made a difference in the area."

Steen, who left his job as a scout for the Phoenix Coyotes to try to stick-handle his way into the House of Commons, said he found the campaign "overwhelming" but "a great experience," adding that he did not yet know if he'd consider running again.

Both the Conservatives and the NDP gained a seat in Manitoba in Tuesday's election, leaving the Tories with nine, the New Democrats with four and the Liberals with one.

Nationally, the NDP won 37 seats, a gain of seven seats since the last election. The Conservatives were elected in 143 ridings, up from 127 in 2006.