Victory 'bittersweet' for Manitoba's lone Liberal MP
That's what supporters at Anita Neville's campaign headquarters in Winnipeg South Centre were saying Tuesday night.
The Liberals lost two of the three seats they had held going into Tuesday's federal election.
Neville, battling former Winnipeg Blue Bombers placekicker Trevor Kennerd for her fourth term, saw her margin of victory shrink to 2,330 this year, down more than 800 from 2006.
However, she won the seat, unlike her colleagues in Saint Boniface and Churchill.
"[It] makes me very sad for my colleagues. We've worked very hard. We've had a good team here in Manitoba," said Neville, 66.
"The trend was against us, and I'm sorry. I'm profoundly sorry. For me, the victory here tonight is a bittersweet one."
It's hard to know exactly why Manitobans turned away from the party, Neville said.
"Quite clearly the Canadians, either they did not buy into the Green Shift — I don't know that yet — or whether it was concern for continuity given the economic changes that we're facing right now," she said, referring to Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's campaign pledge to introduce a carbon tax.
Liberal organizers, too, are stumped. Sharon MacArthur, spokeswoman for the federal Liberals in Manitoba, couldn't explain the poor showing.
"I don't. I can't," she said. "I still don't understand Saint Boniface — I thought it would be closer. Obviously disappointed."
MacArthur refused to blame Dion for the loss.
The plan now is to rebuild the party, said MacArthur and Neville.
"It's going to be incumbent upon all of us to work hard, to pull together and to ensure that we will live to fight another fight and we will," Neville told the crowd at her campaign headquarters.
Nationally, the Liberals were elected in 76 ridings, a drop of 19 seats from the party's standing at dissolution.