Saturday night at Zara’s Garden, a Roast and Toast party was held in honour of the former M.P. for Portage-Lisgar Candice Bergen.  

Many colleagues, Conservative party members, constituents, friends and family came to the event to tease and to thank Bergen for her service. 

Bergen said she wanted a roast because, in a man’s world, teasing and speaking honestly about someone is a way they communicate. She asked the Electoral District Association when they approached her about the send-off, to include a roasting portion. 

She was truly grateful for the evening spent with friends and colleagues. 

“It's overwhelming, it's humbling, and it just feels good. What a wonderful honour to be able to represent the people of Portage-Lisgar, and enjoy such a great career and service, and then be able to leave in a positive way. That's what I wanted to do. A lot of people have said to me, ‘Why did you leave when you did?’ And it was really because I'd rather leave when the people are saying, ‘Hey, you did a great job,’ than them wanting to boot me out. I also wanted to leave when I could still enjoy my family, my kids, my grandkids. Michael and I could do the things we wanted to do, and maybe do a little bit of extra work. So, to have people come here, we laughed, we cried, we sang, which is the way you do it here in in the Winker-Morden area.” 

MPs at the Roast and Toast for Candice BergenMPs at the Roast and Toast for Candice Bergen

Her successor, M.P. for Portage-Lisgar Branden Leslie, was thrilled with the turnout, which included fourteen Conservative M.P.s from across Canada, and a handful of MPs from Manitoba. 

“It is fortunate for us to have been able to bring our colleagues from across this country to roast and toast her, hearing the stories of so many of my colleagues, particularly of her most recent endeavors. Becoming the Interim Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada during some very turbulent times during the pandemic, bringing forward a stability to the Conservative Party under the leadership of Pierre Poilievre. Hearing the heartfelt and heartwarming stories of Candice not only as a person but as a politician, and an inspiration, and a leader not only for our community, but for women.” 

Candice Bergen hugging MLA for Morden-Winkler Carrie HiebertCandice Bergen hugging MLA for Morden-Winkler Carrie Hiebert

Many speakers for the evening told stories and poked fun at Bergen, several took time to thank Bergen’s family, some of whom were in attendance, for the personal sacrifice and support for her over her time in office. 

Leslie, with a young family of his own, acknowledged, “This line of work is hard on families.” 

“While we do our best, finding that balance is critical, and I think Candice always did a very good job of finding ways to support her family and frankly, being supported by her family, and I think she rightfully offered a lot of heartfelt thank you's to her immediate and extended family, her friends. Because when times are tough, families, you rely on. It’s the core of this region, and I think she exemplifies that. To hear the stories from her family and her appreciation, I think, is symbolic of the type of person she is and the type of leader she is.” 

Bergen's husband Michael Harris with a guitar and grandson Bergen's husband Michael Harris with a guitar and grandson 

As she sets course on a new path, Bergen left the night with these final words: 

“And I'm just so grateful to God for his blessing in my life. I'm so grateful for the purpose. He has really renewed in me that purpose, and that each one of us, no matter where we are, no matter our stage in life, no matter the failures or the successes God is good, and God always fulfills our purpose. Including people who maybe aren't Christians and don't have that belief, that's OK. It's still just a thing you know on the inside. And so, I'm really grateful for God's blessing and for being part of everything I was doing.” 

Leslie said he has big shoes to fill, and if he receives half the admiration Bergen received at the end of her time as M.P. for Portage-Lisgar, he will consider it a good career at the end of his time of service. 

Leslie presenting Bergen with a picture from her former office in Ottawa.Leslie presenting Bergen with a picture from her former office in Ottawa.