After nearly 17 years of NDP government, Manitobans gave Brian Pallister and the Progressive Conservatives a strong majority in the provincial election on Tuesday.
The Tories won a historic 53.7 percent of the popular vote and increased their seats from 19 to 40 — the most for one party since the legislature expanded to 57 in the 1940s. The NDP dropped from 35 seats to around 14. The Liberals increased their presence from 1 to 3 seats.
New Democrat Ag Minister Ron Kostyshyn was one of the casualties, losing the rural riding of Swan River to Tory challenger Rick Wowchuk. Conservation Minister Tom Nevakshonoff also lost his seat in Interlake, finishing third to the PC’s Derek Johnson and Liberal candidate and farmer Jamal Abas.
Pallister, whose family farms near Portage, handily won his Winnipeg riding of Fort Whyte. The PC leader will have several options when choosing the province’s new minister of agriculture, as the government benches will include representatives blanketing the province’s farming region and multiple MLAs with extensive ag backgrounds.
Here’s a list of possible candidates for ag minister:
Blaine Pedersen — MLA for Midland, served as PC ag critic prior to the election, spent over 30 years grain farming and in the cattle business, backgrounding cattle.
Ian Wishart — MLA for Portage la Prairie, farmer from the Portage area who served as president of Keystone Agricultural Producers from 2008 to 2010, one of the pioneers and promoters of ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) programs, holds an ag degree from the U of M, served as critic of Child and Family Services prior to the election.
Cliff Graydon — MLA for Emerson, purebred cattle and grain farmer near Arnaud, founding member and former director of Manitoba Beef Producers, former opposition ag critic.
Reg Helwer — MLA for Brandon West, partner in family ag input business (Shur-Gro Farm Services), former president of Manitoba branch of the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association, sat on the Winnipeg Chamber ag committee, holds masters degree in ag economics from Purdue.
Ralph Eichler — MLA for Lakeside, former cattle producer and founder/owner of a livestock handling equipment business, former opposition ag critic.
Cliff Cullen — MLA for Spruce Woods, holds ag diploma from U of M, former president of the Manitoba Weed Supervisors Association, was deputy house leader for the PCs.
Alan Lagimodiere — rookie MLA for Selkirk, a long-time veterinarian and founder of Selkirk Veterinary Services, former Animal Protection Officer for the province, holds B.Sc in agriculture from U of M, as well as MBA and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan.