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The Liberal steamroller slipped a gear as it moved westward into Manitoba last night as the Grits slammed into some minor resistance from the Canadian Alliance. The Liberals lost one seat in Manitoba, electing five. The Canadian Alliance gained one seat, electing four. The New Democrats returned four MPs to Parliament.

In other words, everything remained pretty much the same as three years ago in yesterday's federal election in Manitoba. All four major parties elected MPs.

Tory incumbent Rick Borotsik in the western Manitoba constituency of Brandon retained his seat for the Progressive Conservatives. Manitoba, with 14 seats, also elected four New Democrats, demonstrating that this province -- especially Winnipeg -- remains a keystone for the NDP.

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The Liberals held Lloyd Axworthy's old riding in Winnipeg South Centre as school trustee Anita Neville maintained the seat after the retirement of Mr. Axworthy, the ex-foreign affairs minister. The Progressive Conservatives came in second in this riding with the withdrawal of the Alliance candidate in the last week of the campaign.

But the Grits lost the eastern Manitoba riding of Provencher to a high-profile Canadian Alliance candidate, as two-term incumbent David Iftody was humbled by Manitoba's former Tory justice minister, Alliance candidate Vic Toews.

Alliance candidate Brian Pallister, another former Tory, defeated ex-Reformer Jake Hoeppner in Portage-Lisgar. Mr. Hoeppner, the first Reform MP ever elected in Manitoba in 1993, was running as an Independent. Mr. Toews and Mr. Pallister join Reform-Alliance incumbents Inky Mark in Dauphin and Howard Hilstrom in Selkirk-Interlake.

The four NDP incumbents returned to Parliament include Judy Wasalecia-Leis, Pat Martin, Bill Blaikie and Bev Desjarlais.

Liberals re-elected include Rey Pagtakhan, John Harvard, Reg Alcock and Ron Duhamel.

Clear winners had been difficult to predict as polling throughout the campaign across the province was sporadic. Voters were feeling snarly over having to vote at all in the "Keystone Province," which, unlike it's neighbouring provinces to the east and west, didn't give one party most of its support in 1997.

NDP Leader Alexa McDonough visited Manitoba more often in this campaign than any of the other main party leaders in the hopes of holding the New Democrats' four seats and adding one or two more.

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