The new leader of the PC Party of Manitoba, and subsequently Manitoba's new premier, will be Heather Stefanson.
Stefanson will be the first woman to take office as premier in Manitoba once she is sworn in, winning by 51 per cent.
She gained 8405 ballots, with her opponent Shelly Glover getting 8042 ballots.
"I am just so humbled to be given this opportunity. I am speechless almost," Stefanson tells the media. "We did not let our guard down for one second during this campaign. I travelled all over this province, I talked to people from all areas of this province."
No date has been set yet for Stefanson's swearing-in as premier.
Healthcare backlogs and rebuilding the economy are Stefanson's first priorities. She, along with Manitoba's provincial politicians, will return to legislative on November 16.
"We have come a long way as a province, but there is still more work to be done, obviously," Stefanson says about being the first woman elected as premier in Manitoba. "I look at that challenge; I embrace it."
Premier of the Northwest Territories Caroline Cochane, is the only other woman currently in this leadership position in Canada.
Tiptoeing around the issue of potential missing ballots, Glover says she thinks thousands of ballots were missing or spoiled.
"I really can't concede until I do the homework. It is typical when there is a close race that there are certain rules and regulations that apply about recounts and that kind of thing," Glover says.
The party's president, Tom Wiebe, says there were 82 spoiled ballots and 17 that are disputed.
For close to two months, the MLA for Tuxedo campaigned for this position, running on platforms such as welcoming new Canadians to fill labour gaps in Manitoba, avoiding COVID-19 lockdowns, and opening spaces for more nurse training.
This leadership race was kicked into gear after former premier Brian Pallister resigned earlier this summer, stepping down at the end of August. Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen has been filling in as interim premier.
The party spent five minutes explaining the ballot process, saying it was organized, and “very far away from inept or disorganized.”
They went through the process, saying each envelope has its own identifying pin, including hiring security and adding staff to handle the ballots. They say roughly 17,000 ballots were returned out of their approximately 25,000 party members. This is 4,000 ballots more than the total number of party members they had in the previous election period.
The party says members expressed their gratitude after the party visited places outside of Winnipeg, attempting to get missing ballots.
Interim premier, Kelvin Goertzen is sharing how honoured he is to go from starting out his political career as being an intern to now filling in as premier and party leader.
Making note that this will be the first time in Manitoba that a woman has been elected to this position, Goertzen says “it is about time" for a woman to be elected into this role, saying the glass ceiling "is shattered here tonight.”
He is thanking the PC party’s members and supporters, saying while they may have entered the room supporting one candidate over the other, they are leaving the room supporting the party as a whole. Former premier Brian Pallister was not seen at the event, but he did get a mention in Goertzen’s speech, with the Steinbach MLA saying he balanced the budget and reduced sales tax.
Stefanson was Manitoba's health minister before stepping down to run as party leader. She has previously held roles such as Deputy Premier of Manitoba and Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Stefanson was first elected in 2000.