By-elections in Toronto | Liberals narrowly retain two fortresses

(Ottawa) Justin Trudeau’s Liberals managed to keep the ridings of Toronto Center and York Center in their fold in the by-elections held on Monday. But the victory in these two liberal fortresses was, however, much less striking than in the last election, held barely a year ago.

Joël-Denis Bellavance
Joël-Denis Bellavance

Their narrow victory also had the effect of blocking the attempt of the new leader of the Green Party, Annamie Paul, to enter the House of Commons, and preventing the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, from return there.

The participation rate barely exceeded 25%, a relatively low rate as is often the case in by-elections.

Become vacant in August following the surprise resignation of former Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, splashed by the WE Charity affair (UNIS movement in French), Toronto-Center remained in the liberal camp, candidate Marci Ien , former journalist with the CTV network, winning with around 41% of the votes cast.

Mme Ien suddenly succeeded in blocking the road to the leader of the Green Party, Annamie Paul, who was brought to the head of this political formation only three weeks ago.

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Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party, addressed her supporters Monday night following her defeat in the by-election in Toronto Center.

Bilingual and determined to quickly make his mark on the federal scene, Paul still finished second, scoring nearly 33%, a very honorable score in a riding that is considered a liberal stronghold. Mme Paul also carried the Green Party banner in Toronto Center against Bill Morneau in the last ballot and had to settle for 7% of the vote.

NDP candidate Brian Chang finished third with around 17% of the vote, while Conservative Party candidate Benjamin Gauri Sharma finished fourth with 6% of the vote.

Former Green Party leader Elizabeth May urged New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh to offer the same courtesy to Paul that his party gave him when he ran in a byelection in Burnaby South almost two years ago. The Green Party then decided not to present a candidate. But Mr. Singh politely dismissed this request, causing great tension between these two political parties who are trying to impose themselves in a context of minority government in Ottawa.

Hot struggle in York-Center

In York Center, the battle was hotly contested. Liberal candidate Ya’ara Saks ultimately won with nearly 45% of the vote, but was heated all evening by Conservative Party candidate Julius Tiangson, who garnered around 42% of the vote. On four occasions during the evening, the Conservative candidate held a slim lead over Mme Saks. The Conservative Party has won this riding only three times in the past 67 years, in 1957, 1958 and 2011.

Maxime Bernier, who bit the dust in his riding of Beauce in the last ballot in the hands of Conservative candidate Richard Lehoux, could hardly win in York-Center, obtaining barely 3.8% of the vote.

Even before the results were released, Bernier hinted that he would not become the next MP for York Center, a constituency that became vacant following the resignation of Liberal MP Michael Levitt on 1er September.

“The campaign in the York Center by-election was a very interesting experience. This is just one more step on the long road to establishing a true Conservative / Populist Party in Canada. Whatever the result tonight, we will continue to grow, ”he said on his Twitter account in the morning.

Voters in these two ridings had the opportunity to deliver a first verdict on the federal scene on the Trudeau government’s handling of the pandemic that has lasted more than seven months.

As a result of these by-elections, the Liberal Party now holds 156 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservative Party has 121 seats, the Bloc Québécois, 32 seats, the NDP, 24 seats and the Green Party, 3 seats. There are also two independent MPs, former Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould and Kitchener-Sud-Hespeler MP Marwan Tabbara. The latter was elected under the Liberal banner in the last ballot, but he left the Liberal caucus following trouble with the law.

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