Eichler re-elected for fifth term as Lakeside MLA

Ralph Eichler congratulates Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister at the party's election night function at Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg, Man. Eichler was re-elected for a fifth term as MLA for Lakeside on the same night during the 2019 Manitoba provincial election on Sept. 10, 2019. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times/Postmedia Network)

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Ralph Eichler has made it five-for-five for the Progressive Conservatives in Lakeside.

Voters in the Lakeside constituency overwhelmingly chose the incumbent from Teulon to represent them for a fifth consecutive term during the 42nd provincial election on Sept. 10 with a plurality of 4,340 votes.

Eichler, who had been serving under Brian Pallister’s cabinet as Minister of Agriculture for the past three years, received a total of 6,394 votes. NDP candidate and Elie resident Dan Rugg, a former member of the LUD committee in the community, had 2,054 votes, the most by an NDP candidate in Lakeside since Mitch Obach in the 2007 election. Liberal candidate Ilsa Regelsky, a University of Manitoba student from Argyle, received 854 votes. Her total was the most by a Liberal candidate in Lakeside since Dave Harcus in 1999.

As of Sept. 10, election results were not yet made official by Elections Manitoba.

Eichler spent election night at a large Progressive Conservatives function at Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg. Dressed in a powder blue suit for the occasion, he watched as media outlets projected his victory less than an hour after polls closed. Eichler later told The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times that he is grateful for his supporters.

“Thanks to all the folks that supported me and my team to be able to put my name on a ballot again, because this is not something you take lightly,” Eichler said. Having been previously elected as MLA for Lakeside in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2016, he was concerned about voter complacency.

“The more you win, the more people take you for granted. I was really concerned about getting the vote out. Polls are one thing, but at the end of the day, you got to get your supporters out in order to be able to call it a victory at the end of the night,” Eichler added.

In an email to The Argus and Times, Regelsky was optimistic about her party’s showing in the riding.

“The Manitoba Liberal support in Lakeside has grown drastically since the last time we had a candidate here and I am confident it will continue to grow,” she wrote. “I hope to be able to come back in the next election as a candidate, using what I have learned this time around to gain more support.”

It was a good night all-around for the PCs as Manitoba voters elected them to a second straight majority government. As of Sept. 10, the Tories were leading or elected to 36 seats. The NDP were leading or elected to 18 seats to form the Official Opposition, while the Liberals had three seats and lost official party status in the Legislature.

While Pallister made his victory speech, he was joined on stage by PC candidates including Eichler and other re-elected Interlake MLAs: Derek Johnson (Interlake-Gimli), Dr. Alan Lagimodiere (Selkirk) and Jeff Wharton (Red River North).

“They made a choice; not backward, forward. Forward to balanced budgets, forward to better care, and sooner, forward to new schools for our children and grandchildren … and forward to more affordability for families, with lower taxes and more money, right on the kitchen tables of Manitobans,” Pallister told supporters.

Lakeside had a voter turnout of 59.8%, just above the provincial average of 55.4%.

— With files from Joyanne Pursaga, Postmedia Network

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