NDP's Desjarlais holds lead over Conservative Diotte in narrow Edmonton-Griesbach battle
New Democrat candidate Blake Desjarlais holds a narrow lead over incumbent Kerry Diotte in Edmonton-Griesbach after the initial count Monday night, but the race remains too close to call according to CTV News projections.
With 231 out of 232 polls reporting early Tuesday morning, Desjarlais led by just over 1,000 votes.
The Canadian Press called the race for Desjarlais earlier Monday night.
Desjarlais declined to speak to media Tuesday morning but posted to Twitter later in the day thanking his campaign team and stating that he was "deeply honoured by the confidence that the voters of Edmonton Griesbach have shown in me."
Diotte declined comment to CTV News on Tuesday morning.
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Liberal candidate Habiba Mohamud will finish third, followed by the People Party of Canada’s Thomas Matty.
The final vote tally will be determined later Tuesday or early Wednesday as Elections Canada counts 1,746 remaining mail-in ballots.
Diotte won the riding when it was first contested in 2015 and then again in 2019 when he received more than 51 per cent of the vote.
The former Edmonton city councillor and newspaper columnist had served as the Tories' deputy critic for national revenue and public procurement.
Desjarlais, 27, was seeking to reverse a trend that saw voting support for the NDP fall over the last two elections: from 34 per cent of votes in 2015, down to 25 per cent in 2019.
If elected he would become Alberta’s only Indigenous MP and is also believed to be Canada's first openly two-spirited MP .
A Desjarlais win would be the result of a focused effort from the party, says Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.
"Greisbach has never been in play before," he said. " It was a combination of recruiting a star NDP candidate with the full cooperation of both the federal NDP and the provincial NDP and they don’t often get along."
Federal party leader Jagmeet Singh visited the riding twice during the campaign and a number of provincial NDP representatives, including Opposition leader and former premier Rachel Notely, campaigned there as well.
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