Dawson Trail MLA Bob Lagasse will be the PC candidate in the riding next fall for the upcoming provincial election.
He received the appointment at a meeting earlier this month and after serving as an MLA since 2016 said it didn’t take long for him and his wife to see nothing but positives in accepting another term.
“It was an easy decision,” he said, explaining the questions they considered were whether he was still effective in his role and whether it was affecting the family in a negative way.
“I’m perfectly happy with what’s going on with the party, that we’re cutting taxes,” he said. “We’re going in a positive direction for Manitoba and I feel a lot of times as well that there’s still some unfinished business that we’ve been working on for years.”
PC leader and Prime Minister Heather Stefanson has the lowest approval rating of any prime minister at 22 percent according to a September 21 poll by the Angus Reid Institute. The rating was 10 points behind then premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney.
“I’m not in this for the leaders,” Lagasse said. “I am here to serve the people of my constituency. Regardless of who our leader is, I will support them.”
Lagasse’s decision to run in another election comes after several other MLAs announced they would resign after this term. However, the 49-year-old Lagasse pointed out that age is a factor in their decisions.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” he said. “If I was that age, I’d probably want to retire too.”
Those retirements include Lakeside MLA Ralph Eichler (72), La Verendrye MLA Dennis Smook (69), Agassiz MLA Eileen Clarke (68) and Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen (67). Kirkfield Park MLA Scott Fielding resigned in June to enter the private sector.
The riding of Dawson Trail has not always been Tory blue. Formed from parts of Morris and La Verendrye in 2008, it was first home of NDP cabinet minister Ron Lemieux.
Lagasse held the riding with 53 and 55 percent of the vote in 2016 and 2019 respectively.
He said he doesn’t look at history when planning strategy.
“You never win a race looking back, so I’m just going to look at the finish line and I’m going to do what I have to do to get back here, and that’s being part of a community and listening,” he said.
It’s the daily interaction with his constituents that Lagasse said is the best part of the job. With the help of what he calls an “amazing staff” in the office, he said he prides himself on being approachable.
His current mandate has brought with it challenges.
Lagasse had COVID, which affected his speech, so a series of tests had to be done to determine if indeed COVID was the problem. Ironically, he said it wasn’t until he caught COVID a second time that it all cleared up.
Reaching out to the community will continue and his popular Coffee with Bob events are scheduled to begin soon. They were suspended due to COVID.
Lagasse said he is excited about the future.
“I’m just looking forward to having another opportunity, if they’ll have me, to serve the constituents here in Dawson Trail,” he said.
PC party leader and Premier Heather Stefanson, in an October 12 press release, described Lagasse as an excellent representative.
“His record of public service makes him the best choice to represent the Dawson Trail constituency,” she said. “I look forward to working with him as we build a winning team that will continue to earn the trust of Manitobans in the upcoming provincial election.”