Bezan re-elected to sixth term as MP for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman

James Bezan, Conservative candidate for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, delivers his victory speech at the Selkirk Golf and Country Club in Selkirk, Man. after being re-elected as MP for a sixth consecutive term on Oct. 21, 2019. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times/Postmedia Network)

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While the Conservatives did not have the ideal result nationally in this year’s federal election, the voters of Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman overwhelmingly supported its incumbent with another landslide in the polls.

Conservative candidate James Bezan, who had been the Member of Parliament for the riding since 2004, was re-elected for an unprecedented sixth term on Oct. 21 with a total of 30,779 votes consisting of 62.8% of the electorate with one poll left to count as of press time. The vote total has exceeded his all-time high when he received 26,848 votes in the 2011 federal election.

NDP candidate Robert A. Smith received 8,743 votes, giving Bezan a plurality of 22,036 votes. Liberal candidate Detlev Regelsky was the recipient of 5,895 votes, while Green candidate Wayne James, who also ran in 2015, had 2,890 votes cast for him, 1,183 more than four years ago. People’s Party candidate Ian Kathwaroon received 667 votes.

At around 9:30 p.m., one hour after results came in for most of the country, Bezan and his family arrived at Selkirk Golf & Country Club where more than 60 of his supporters gave him a round of applause. Interestingly, while Bezan supported Progressive Conservative candidates at the party’s election night headquarters last month, no PC MLAs were in attendance at Bezan’s election event.

After an introduction by riding association president Jim Stinson, Bezan opened his victory speech by congratulating Winnipeg Centre candidate Ryan Dyck who was in attendance and thanking voters and his own team for its work during the campaign.

“It is for me such a humbling experience to continue to gather support of everyone here in Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman,” he said. “Even though we run on partisan colours, I’m so proud to carry our Conservative Tory blue flag. I couldn’t do it without all of the people who voted; I couldn’t do it without the amazing volunteers.”

Bezan later acknowledged that the major snowstorm which disrupted power in the northern part of the riding set back the campaign in the area, but later thanked Manitoba Hydro workers and first responders for their efforts.

He later said he was humbled to be re-elected and “here for each and every one of you.” Bezan also congratulated the other four candidates and added that democracy in Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman was “strong” because of candidates representing their respective parties and causes.

The Liberals won a minority government, dashing the Conservatives’ chances of winning the most seats after being neck-and-neck in the polls. However, Bezan took a glass-half-full approach in describing his party’s performance and added that the Conservatives will hold the Liberals accountable when Parliament resumes.

“Four years ago, nobody put a thought that we were going to stop (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau. Even a year ago, nobody thought we stood a chance with a new untested leader, Andrew Scheer,” he said. “But these are positive results. Our numbers are up. We defeated key Liberals like Ralph Goodale … We had, in my opinion, the best platform that we have ever campaigned on.”

Regelsky told The Selkirk Journal he was disappointed with his result but not surprised and congratulated Bezan on his win. He was also content with the Liberals’ showing.

“(A minority government) gives a bit more input from other viewpoints,” Regelsky added.

In an email, James wrote to The Journal that he realized that Conservative support was strong in Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman but feared that “the natural world is to be converted into an economic gain, without regard to repercussions.”

In Manitoba, the Conservatives were elected in seven ridings while the Liberals took four seats, all in Winnipeg, and the NDP won three. Prior to the election, the Liberals controlled seven seats with the Tories having five and two for the NDP.

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