Leah Gazan wins NDP nomination for Winnipeg Centre

Leah Gazan will represent the NDP in Winnipeg Centre in the fall's federal election. 

Will face off against Liberal incumbent Robert-Falcon Ouellette in October election

Leah Gazan beat out longtime NDP MLA Andrew Swan to represent the NDP in the federal election this fall. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

Leah Gazan will represent the NDP in Winnipeg Centre in the fall's federal election after a nomination meeting that attracted more than 900 NDP supporters Sunday.

After giving a rousing speech that was met with a standing ovation from half the crowd, Gazan beat out longtime Minto MLA Andrew Swan for the nomination.

Gazan, who is a lecturer at the University of Winnipeg and public speaker, attributed her win to her long history of community advocacy and her strong relationships with people in the riding.

"I have a long history in the community on the ground. I've worked in this community in different capacities for over 30 years, and I think a lot of what happened today was built on relationships," she said.

More than 900 people showed up to Sunday's meeting to vote for the candidate they wanted to represent the NDP in the Winnipeg Centre riding in the federal election. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

She said she plans to run a bold campaign that focuses on grassroots politics.

"I think that's essential. I think far too often governments make decisions without people, where people need to drive the process," she said.

Surge in members 

Swan said he was disappointed he didn't win, but was happy to see such a strong turnout to the meeting.

"It's a great sign that the NDP are going to win back Winnipeg centre," Swan said.

The seat is currently held by Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette.

But from 1997 to 2015 it was held by the NDP, under Pat Martin.

The pews of the Knox United Church on Edmonton Street were packed with NDP supporters Sunday. (Rudy Gauer/CBC )

Voting for the nomination was set to take place at 3 p.m., but didn't start until about 4:30 p.m. after hundreds of people showed up to the Knox United Church for the meeting.

Richard Lennon, chair of the NDP riding association for Winnipeg Centre, said it was an incredible turnout, especially given that the riding's NDP membership had just 350 people in January.

"So it's a massive surge of members really, and we haven't seen that amount of members in this riding for as long as I know, at least 25 years," he said.

The federal election will be held Oct. 21.