Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The four Canadian by-elections, and how our Canadian colleagues performed

Readers, the results of the four Canadian by-elections, held yesterday at the height of the Senate scandal, which is characteristic of Stephen Harper's right-wing, authoritarian-leaning, neoliberal administration,  are now in.

Toronto Centre's by-election, with 11 candidates, was the most interesting of these four, and for some period in the past (before the infamous 1993 Canadian election, where the then Progressive Conservative government went from a majority to losing almost all representation in the Canadian House of Commons) was a Conservative-Liberal marginal.

This was the only one of the four by-elections where the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP)'s vote increased-this time at the expense of the Conservatives rather than the Liberals,from which it took a lot of votes at the last Canadian federal election in 2011. The Conservatives here retained third place but their vote share fell to 8.7%-their worst ever share in this seat (which they held in the 1980s) by far and reflective of their now particularly high unpopularity in metropolitan areas like Toronto. We sadly did not do that well either despite the profile of Canadian Green MP Elizabeth May's hard work.

Perennial candidate John Turmel-who holds the world record for most legislative elections contested and is Canada's answer to the late Bill Boaks, in essence-received only 75 votes, which was still ahead of two Independents and the newly-formed Online Party (that only received 44 votes!). Turnout in this by-election dropped sharply from 66% to 38%.

Bourassa's by-election (in a safe Liberal seat) had the worst turnout that day,though,as it was just 26%-there are only a few UK by-elections with turnouts lower than that. The increase of the already strong Liberal vote there from 40.9% to 48.1% is testament to the rising star of Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (son of the late Pierre Trudeau). The already low Conservative vote share dropped even further in this seat- from 8.8% to 4.6%; the NDP vote did not increase either-at least the Canadian Greens did manage a slight rise in vote share.

Provencher was, with its previously huge Conservative majority (52.7%!) the least interesting of these by-elections, although the Liberals nevertheless got a significant strike, shooting from 6.7% to 30%, damaging both the votes of the NDP and more so the Conservatives alike. The Greens could at least say their vote share increased, if sadly only slightly.

Brandon-Souris' by-election caused a significant shock when Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale, son of late Conservative MP Walter Dinsdale, came within just 400 votes of winning this otherwise very safe Conservative seat (the Liberals only ever won it in the 1993 election I mentioned earlier, and lost it in 1997). Also, the turnout in this by-election actually increased-very rare in Canadian politics.

The next Canadian federal election will be at most less than 2 years away now, and I hope Elizabeth May will be able to help achieve another breakthrough. As a British Green, I can at least be sure that she can do a better job for Canada on many levels (not just on democratic processes and the environment) than the youngish-looking Justin Trudeau is likely to.

Alan.

 







 

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