Heather Stefanson resigns as leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party following her defeat to the NDP
After the party's defeat in Tuesday's election, Stefanson tells supporters, "It has been the honor of my life."
The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba is losing a majority government in Tuesday's provincial election, and Heather Stefanson is resigning as its leader.
"It has been the privilege of my life to help the people of Manitoba with the various roles that I have held throughout the years," Stefanson said to supporters on Tuesday night at the Canad Inn in Fort Garry.
"I honor the people's decision, and they have spoken today."
Without providing a specific date for her departure, Stefanson stated that she would be happy to collaborate with the party to make sure the transition is seamless and that the PCs will "hold the new government's feet to the fire."
"I know the essential role opposition plays in our democracy because I served in opposition in the past."
Before her address, Stefanson claimed to have called NDP Leader Wab Kinew to congratulate him.
Although they don't always agree, she acknowledged the "historic nature" of Kinew's win as the first elected First Nations premier of a Canadian province and said that they both have a deep affection for Manitoba.
"Wab, I hope that a future generation of Indigenous youth, not just here in Manitoba but all across the country, get involved in our democratic process," she said after her victory.
Kinew becomes Manitoba's first First Nations premier after a strong NDP victory.
Among the Winnipeg PC cabinet ministers losing seats to the NDP is the health minister, Audrey Gordon.
The contest served as a litmus test for the PCs under Stefanson, who has never run for party leader in a province election.
After Premier Brian Pallister resigned in October 2021, she barely defeated opposition candidate Shelly Glover to become the new leader of the Progressive Conservative party.
After winning her first provincial election in 2000, the seasoned cabinet member has served as the Tuxedo riding representative for west-central Winnipeg for more than 20 years.
Stefanson was leading NDP candidate Larissa Ashdown by 259 votes as of Wednesday morning, but the race was still too close to declare.
In her concession speech, Stefanson expressed her gratitude to her family, volunteers, and campaign staff.
She also congratulated the newly elected PC MLAs to the assembly, expressing her sympathies to other party members who were unsuccessful in their attempts to win reelection.
Stefanson stated that the PCs faced "yet, we were able to move Manitoba forward" in spite of the unprecedented problems they faced while in government, including as the COVID-19 outbreak, the war in Ukraine, and the ensuing economic hardships.
She remarked, "I feel honored to have served as your premier as I stand before you."