Running with the slogan “The Right Conservative”, Branden Leslie has won the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for Portage-Lisgar. The announcement came late Saturday afternoon, just before 6pm, after two days of speeches and voting in Portage la Prairie Friday evening and Saturday in Winkler.
"It's a very surreal moment when I walked in and earned a round of applause," said Leslie when interviewed shortly after securing the nomination. "Obviously it was a very proud moment, but also a moment when you realized the responsibility just put upon you. I have to say, very positive comments toward all of the candidates to put their name forward. Running a campaign is a very stressful, demanding process, so kudos to all of those that put their name on the ballot. I'm very thankful the Conservative Party members put their trust in me as the right conservative to represent them in Ottawa as their next Member of Parliament."
Leslie was up against former Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen, former Winnipeg MP Lawrence Toet and Winkler’s Don Cruickshank.
Leslie was born and raised on a farm just south of Portage la Prairie, attended Portage Collegiate Institute and went on to Brandon University and Carleton University to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Leslie worked as the Manager of Policy and Government Relations at the Grain Growers of Canada, and was campaign manager for Candice Bergen during the 2019 election.
"One of the biggest things I heard was the frustration with the carbon tax, and the knowledge it disproportionately affects rural Canadians, and the fact that it's driving up the cost of everything," said Leslie when asked to talk about what he felt resonated with the party membership. "The Liberals gun bans, and the general attack on our rural way of life, are a tremendous frustration to so many folks across this riding. My desire to repeal those those gun bans, and defend the rights of law abiding firearms owners, played very well amongst members, and frankly, across our community. It wasn't just members I talked to over the past 106 days of my campaign. My entire campaign surrounded defending the rural way of life, and everything that encompasses."
Former Conservative Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen resigned her seat earlier this year, prompting the party to begin the process of finding its next candidate, as well as the need for a by-election in the riding.
The by-election date is still to be announced, and according to Elections Canada, the date must be announced no later than August 27th, be held on a Monday and be at least 36 days, but no more than 50 days, after the day the by-election is announced.
Leslie admits, after 106 days of campaigning, it's time to take a couple days to rest and reset, spending time with his fiancé Cailey before focusing on the forthcoming by-election.
"The by-election could be called anytime, as early as May, so it's about setting up our our team," he noted. "I'm going to be reaching out, as I mentioned, to all of the other candidates that ran. There is a tremendous amount of people that volunteer on these sorts of campaigns, and I want to make sure that we are a united Conservative front in this riding, and right across the country, to make sure that we can remove Justin Trudeau as our Prime Minister in the next federal election, whenever it may come."