By Don Radford
It was a bittersweet night for Cameron Friesen, his campaign team and Progressive Conservative supporters in the new constituency of Morden-Winkler.
While Friesen, in his first election, swept to a win and a seat in the legislature, he saw his party fail to gain any ground and once again relegated to the Opposition benches.
With the results in and showing Morden-Winkler solidly Conservative blue but another NDP majority government, Friesen addressed his supporters in Winkler, six months to the day after he won the Conservative nomination
"Thank you for putting your confidence and trust in me. It is an absolute pleasure to be your new MLA," he said. "I am very happy to see a tremendously strong result for this riding." (Friesen polled 4,912 votes - a remarkable 85 per cent of votes cast. Left in the dust were NDP candidate Aaron McDowell who had 656 and Liberal Daniel Woldeyohanis with 173.)
He thanked his campaign team and many volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout the campaign.
"It was a tremendous campaign. It is a shared victory. It's all of ours," said Friesen.
While noting the party did well in the popular vote, Friesen said it was disappointing that the Conservatives couldn't topple Premier Greg Selinger and the NDP.
"We'll continue to fight on," he said. "We need to keep reminding Manitobans that we could do better."
Acknowledging that as a new MLA he faced a steep learn curve, Friesen promised integrity, co-operation, collaboration and results.
Friesen also took time to acknowledge the presence of former MLA Peter George Dyck who represented the much larger Pembina constituency for more than 15 years before retiring last fall.
"Peter has the respect of his (legislature) colleagues and the gratitude of his constituents," Friesen told the audience.
"Thank you, Peter, for 16 years," he said.
In speaking to the Times earlier in the evening, Dyck said attending the celebration and watching results come in left him with mixed emotions.
"But I have no regrets. It was time to move on," the former MLA said.
A proud Max Friesen was also in attendance and watched his son sweep to an overwhelming electoral victory.
Asked what advice he will offer the new MLA, the former mayor of Morden said, "Always listen to the people, and don't take anything for granted."