Ag minister returned, ag critic downed in Manitoba vote

Manitoba’s agriculture minister Ralph Eichler, shown here at an Aug. 27 pre-election forum hosted by the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association, easily held his riding of Lakeside in the Sept. 10 provincial election. (Manitoba Co-operator photo by Geralyn Wichers)

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives easily kept their agriculture minister while hanging onto a marginally slimmer majority government in Tuesday’s provincial election.

Ralph Eichler, the Tories’ ag minister since 2016 and the MLA for the Interlake-area constituency of Lakeside since 2003, defeated New Democrat challenger Dan Rugg of Elie on Tuesday night by a spread of 4,340 votes.

Eichler had stints as a purebred Simmental and commercial cattle producer, as owner and operator of Prairie Farm and Ranch Supply and Teulon auction company Ray’s Auction Service, and as an administrator for the Interlake School Division before entering provincial politics.

Premier Brian Pallister’s Tories were elected or leading in 36 of 57 constituencies on Tuesday night, while the opposition New Democrats under leader Wab Kinew lifted their bench strength to 18 MLAs. Dougald Lamont’s Liberals fell just short of official party status, winning in three ridings.

Ted Marcelino, the opposition critic for housing and, since March, for agriculture, was the lone casualty Tuesday night among NDP incumbents seeking re-election.

Electoral boundaries redrawn last year left Marcelino facing another incumbent MLA, the Liberals’ Cindy Lamoureux, on Tuesday. Lamoureux won the northwest Winnipeg riding, Tyndall Park, by a spread of over 1,800 votes.

But when the legislature reconvenes, the expanded NDP caucus will include a few rookie MLAs with experience in agriculture and/or agribusiness on their resumes. Among those:

  • Diljeet Brar, MLA-elect for the northwestern Winnipeg riding of Burrows, has worked as an extension co-ordinator for the provincial agriculture department in Arborg and as a field crop research assistant for Ag Quest at Minto. He also served as an assistant professor at India’s Punjab Agricultural University.
  • Jamie Moses, who on Tuesday unseated one of Pallister’s cabinet ministers, Colleen Mayer, in the south Winnipeg riding of St. Vital, has a degree in agribusiness from the University of Manitoba and a resume including a four-year stint at the Canadian Wheat Board.
  • Malaya Marcelino, MLA-elect for the central Winnipeg riding of Notre Dame, is the daughter of former Winnipeg MLA Flor Marcelino. According to the NDP, the younger Marcelino today works in communications support for a “Manitoba-based agribusiness firm.”

— Glacier FarmMedia Network

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