Brian Pallister's PCs win majority government in Manitoba

With Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives celebrating the biggest majority win in Manitoba's history, Greg Selinger has offered his resignation as leader of the New Democratic Party as it marks the end of 17 years in government.

Brian Pallister's Tories end NDP's 17-year reign; Greg Selinger offers resignation

Manitoba premier-designate Brian Pallister speaks to Progressive Conservative Party supporters at Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg late Tuesday night. (Michael Fazio/CBC)

Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservatives are celebrating a record-breaking majority win in Manitoba, ending almost 17 years of New Democratic Party government rule on Tuesday.

"The only thing better than tonight in Manitoba is tomorrow," Pallister told a crowd of cheering supporters in his victory speech in Winnipeg.

"And tomorrow, all Manitobans are going to walk out into a beautiful spring morning. They're going to look up and the sky's going to be blue."

The PCs will win 40 seats, making it the largest majority in the province's history.

Greg Selinger, who had been premier since 2009, announced that he is resigning as NDP leader.

"I have talked to the president of the party and I've offered my resignation," he told his supporters. "I do take responsibility for the election outcome."

Selinger's NDP was elected in 14 constituencies — down from the 35 seats it had in the legislature before the election.

The PCs needed at least 29 out of a total 57 seats to form a majority government. It swept southern and central Manitoba and are picking up a number of constituencies in the capital city.

In fact, the party claimed some Winnipeg constituencies that were previously held by the NDP, including Kirkfield Park, Southdale, Seine River, Radisson and Riel.

The Tories have not been in government in Manitoba since the Gary Filmon administration, which was in power from 1988 until the NDP won in 1999.

"It's been a long time. I can actually still remember 1999, when [the] government changed," said longtime PC MLA Myrna Driedger, who was re-elected in Charleswood in Winnipeg.

"I can actually put myself back into that night. This has been 16 years later and I'm still feeling like I can't believe it's all really happening."

3 Liberals elected

Meanwhile, the Liberal caucus has grown from one to three MLAs.

Former party leader Jon Gerrard, who was the party's lone MLA before the election was called, was re-elected in his constituency of River Heights in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Gerrard will be joined by Cindy Lamoureux — daughter of Winnipeg North Liberal MP Kevin Lamoreux — who has been elected in Burrows, and Judy Klassen, who defeated NDP incumbent Eric Robinson in Kewatinook.

However, they will be without current Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari, who lost to NDP star candidate Wab Kinew in the Fort Rouge constituency. She has not held a seat in the legislature since she was chosen leader in 2013.

Pallister has been elected in his constituency, while Selinger has been re-elected in his.

The Green Party of Manitoba was shut out of Tuesday's election. It had hoped to gain a seat in the Wolseley constituency but lost to the NDP in a tight race.

Trudeau congratulates Tories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement late Tuesday congratulating Pallister and the PCs on their election win.

"We look forward to working with the new provincial government in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration on issues of importance to Manitobans and all Canadians," Trudeau said.

The New Democrats under leader Greg Selinger had been hoping to win a fifth majority government, but saw a sharp drop in support. (CBC)
"I also extend my heartfelt thanks to Greg Selinger for his contributions to the province and the country during his time as premier, and wish him all the best in his future endeavours."

Before the election campaign began, there were 35 New Democrats, 19 Progressive Conservatives and one Liberal in the legislature. There were two vacant seats.

Selinger campaigned on his party's record in government — the party had won four back-to-back majority governments since 1999 — while the Tories promised change and capitalized on the NDP's recent infighting, which stemmed from the government's decision in 2013 to raise the provincial sales tax after promising not to do so.

"There's no point in sugar-coating it — this is a heart-breaking night for New Democrats," said former NDP MLA Theresa Oswald, who challenged Selinger for the party leadership in 2015.

Polls during the campaign had put the PCs ahead of the NDP. As part of Student Vote, a mock election held to coincide with the official election on Tuesday, more than 20,000 students from schools across Manitoba voted to give Pallister a majority government.

Bokhari's Liberals had struggled to rise above obstacles and gaffes during their campaign, while the Green Party was hoping to win its first seat in the legislature.