Election 2021: Vidal shuts down Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River challengers

·2 min read

Conservative candidate Gary Vidal has fended off all his challengers in a northern showdown for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.

Vidal secured a second term in office by beating NDP challenger Harmonie King and former NDP MLA turned Liberal candidate Buckley Belanger.

Other hopefuls included the Green Party's Nasser Dean Chalifoux, the People’s Party of Canada's Dezirae Reddekopp and Independent candidate Stephen King.

Vidal held 48 per cent of the vote over Belanger (27) and King (18).

"It's just the respect you show for people that comes back to you," Vidal said.

The massive riding — which covers roughly half of the province's land mass — has a history of throwing out incumbents in tight races, but Vidal attributed his staying power to "credible" advocacy for the riding.

Vidal, who formerly served as mayor of Meadow Lake, has a strong base of support along the southern tip of the constituency.

King aimed to counter that stronghold with hometown backing of her own in Meadow Lake. She won the support of former NDP MP and La Loche Mayor Georgina Jolibois, but it wasn't enough to steal the seat outright by press time on Monday night.

Belanger also sought to make inroads in the south while shoring up support in northern communities, with key endorsements from First Nations leaders like Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Karen Bird and Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson, who ran as a Liberal in 2019.

In 2019, Cook-Searson finished third with 26.5 per cent of the votes, behind Jolibois (28.4) and Vidal (42.3).

By press time, commanding leads held for Rosemarie Falk of Battlefords—Lloydminster, Kelly Block of Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek, Cathay Wagantall in Yorkton—Melville and Randy Hoback in Prince Albert.

Voters in those ridings streamed to the polls, lining up in support of Erin O'Toole's Conservatives and venting their frustrations with the federal government at the ballot box to send MPs to join Vidal in Ottawa.

"My agenda was just getting (up) to today," Vidal said. "We'll start thinking about what's next tomorrow morning."

Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix

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