A large crowd joined Portage-Lisgar Conservative by-election candidate, Branden Leslie, and party leader, Pierre Poilievre, Friday night at Winkler’s Meridian Exhibition Centre. The meet and greet was the latest campaign stop in the region for Leslie, and the first time Poilievre had been in the riding since the by-election was called in May. 

“So far, it has been going fantastic,” said Leslie when asked how the campaign has been to this point. “We have knocked on over 10,000 doors in every town, big or small, across this riding, and the response is fantastic. As for the rally we're having here tonight, there is a ton of excitement for our party, for our movement, and a real energy to try to get rid of the Prime Minister as soon as possible.” 

In an interview with PembinaValleyOnline earlier in the day, prior to the event, Poilievre was asked why he decided to spend time in Portage-Lisgar in support of Leslie. 

“Because the people here deserve a Member of Parliament from the community for the community,” said the party leader. “We need a commonsense voice who will stand up for Manitoba in Ottawa, rather than Ottawa in Manitoba. Branden is a farm kid from the Prairies who's fought for cattlemen, fought for law-abiding firearms owners. He's against the carbon tax and stands up for the hard-working people he's known all his life. I can't wait for him to join me in Caucus to bring it home for the people of Portage- Lisgar.” 

Leslie noted it’s a real vote of confidence to have had Poilievre join him in Winkler. 

“This is a riding that is inherently Conservative, and the excitement in this room tonight is beyond anything I can speak to,” reflected Leslie at the rally. “He's (Poilievre) coming here talking about the same things I've been talking about on the doorstep; the carbon tax, the Liberal gun grab, the cost of living for everyone across this riding and across this country, and the desire to end the Prime Minister's reign of terror.” 

That vote of confidence, said Poilievre, stems from Leslie being a man of the people, taking that one-on-one approach to knocking on doors leading up to by-election day. 

“For him, it's quite natural,” Poilievre stated. “He's basically talking to his lifelong friends, family and neighbours, and don't forget this is where he comes from. He knows everybody, knows the people on the ground (and) when they come to the doorstep, they address him by his first name. They remember babysitting (him) when he was a small kid, or maybe they dropped by his family farm to borrow some equipment some years ago. (They’ve) probably seen him at a local restaurant, because that's the life he's lived. He’s been for the people, and communities like Portage and the Winkler, and he's going to be a real voice for the friends, family and neighbours he's known his entire life.” 

Advance voting in the Portage-Lisgar by-election happens June 9th through 12th, with election day slated for June 19th. 

In addition to Leslie, also on the ballot in the by-election are (candidates listed in order of publication on Elections Canada’s website); with Max Bernier representing the People's Party of Canada; Nicolas Geddert for the Green Party of Canada; Kerry Smith for the Liberal Party of Canada and Lisa Tessier-Burch for the New Democratic Party. 

- With files from Pam Fedack -

Branden Leslie with Pierre Poilievre and former M.P. Candice Bergen at Friday's rally in WinklerLeft to right; Branden Leslie with Pierre Poilievre and former Portage-Lisgar M.P. Candice Bergen at Friday's rally in Winkler