Polls close in byelection for Tuxedo, riding previously held by former Manitoba premier

Votes are starting to be counted, after residents in Winnipeg’s Tuxedo riding cast ballots to decide who their next MLA will be.

Polls closed Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the byelection, called after former premier Heather Stefanson announced her retirement from politics earlier this year.

The provincial seat in west-central Winnipeg has historically been a Progressive Conservative stronghold, but the NDP came within 276 votes of upsetting the Tories in last October’s general election, despite barely campaigning in the riding.

This time around, the now governing New Democrats have deployed significant resources in an effort to snatch the riding from the PCs.

The party is also counting on its own popularity to bolster its chances. 

A recent Probe Research poll suggests the NDP has the support of more Winnipeggers than it enjoyed on election day. The online survey of 1,000 adults was conducted between May 28 and June 9, 2024.

Only two MLAs have been elected by voters of Tuxedo since the affluent constituency was formed 43 years ago, both of whom were Tories and served as premier. Stefanson and her Tuxedo predecessor, Gary Filmon, won a total of 13 general elections or byelections in the riding.

Stefanson, who had held the Tuxedo riding in Winnipeg for the Tories since 2000, announced she would step down as party leader after her party lost last October’s election, and later announced she would also resign as MLA.

The Tories will choose Stefanson’s successor as party leader in 2025.

Four candidates are vying for the seat in Tuxedo.

By early evening Tuesday, around 3,176 votes had been cast, according to Elections Manitoba.

That’s in addition to the 3,424 people who voted during the eight days of advance voting, which is about 1,000 more advance voters than in the 2022 byelections in the Winnipeg ridings of Fort Whyte and Kirkfield Park.

“So far we’ve had smooth sailing today,” said Mike Ambrose, director of communications for Elections Manitoba.

“No delays in openings. The weather, while not particularly nice, has co-operated, so we didn’t have to worry about losing power this morning,” he said. Outages were caused at some polling stations by storms in last October’s general election.

Ambrose said he expects the results will start coming in about half an hour after the polls close, and that the final byelection results could be wrapped by 9:30 p.m. if everything goes accordingly. 

Candidates

Family lawyer Lawrence Pinsky, the Progressive Conservative candidate, has campaigned with a focus on public safety and provincial finances, in an effort to motivate conservative voters by drawing attention away from Kinew and toward his party’s traditional ideological positions.

Pinsky has also attempted to portray the NDP as providing shelter to “extremists” who seek to defund police or embrace lopsided ideological takes on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A man in a lue suit stands in front of a row of fir trees.
Progressive Conservative candidate Lawrence Pinsky is a family lawyer. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

NDP candidate Carla Compton has highlighted her front-line health-care experience throughout her campaign. The hemodialysis nurse previously ran in Tuxedo in the 2019 general election and finished third, behind Stefanson and Liberal candidate Marc Brandson.

If elected, Compton has said her health-care experience will be valuable to the government, even as a backbencher.

A woman standing at an orange podium smiles as she is surrounded by people clapping.
NDP candidate Carla Compton, centre, is a hemodialysis nurse. She previously ran in Tuxedo in the 2019 general election, finishing third behind the PCs and Liberals. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Jamie Pfau, the Liberal candidate, is an advocate for foster parents and a PhD candidate in community health sciences who also runs a cabin rental business in Lac du Bonnet, Man.

She’s pitching her political independence as an asset to voters who might be tired of the PC-NDP dichotomy in Manitoba. She said she will be able to return phone calls more quickly and respond to them more easily than members of the two larger parties.

A woman in a blazer and jeans stands on a boulevard, with a group of volunteers in the background.
Liberal candidate Jamie Pfau is a foster parent advocate, PhD candidate and entrepreneur. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The candidate for the Green Party — which has no seats in the Manitoba Legislature — is leader Janine Gibson.

While Gibson lives east of Winnipeg, she has suggested Tuxedo voters are educated enough to understand the benefits of political diversity.

A woman standing in a wooded area in a park.
Green Party Leader Janine Gibson is running for her party in Tuxedo. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Nearly two-thirds of Tuxedo adults have post-secondary degrees, says a Manitoba Bureau of Statistics report on Elections Manitoba’s website.

The riding is bordered by the Assiniboine River to the north and Ridgewood Avenue and the CN Rivers rail line in the south. Its western boundary runs along William R. Clement Parkway and Laxdal Road, while its eastern boundary runs along Sir John Franklin Road.

It includes the neighbourhoods of Tuxedo and Elmhurst.