Green party leader Annamie Paul lost her bid for a seat in Toronto Centre. (photo from annamiepaul.ca)
Annamie Paul, the first female Jewish leader of a Canadian federal party, saw her hopes crushed Monday night as the Green vote plummeted across the country and she badly lost her bid for a seat in Toronto Centre. Paul came fourth in the riding, taking less than 9% of the vote. Her party lost one of its two British Columbia seats but, in their only bright spot, picked up a new riding in Ontario.
Having been kneecapped by internal party clashes in the lead-up to the election call, Paul was in an unenviable position, leading a party that had tried to oust her in a battle sparked by, or at least nominally blamed on, Paul’s moderate call for restraint during the Israel-Hamas conflict last spring.
Paul was not the only leader disappointed on election night. While politicians painted the outcomes in sunny terms, no one got much of what they wanted. After a $600 million election in the midst of a pandemic, the big picture in Canada’s political landscape is almost unchanged. With minor adjustments expected as mail-in ballots are counted, the Liberals and Conservatives are almost exactly where they were when the election was called.
Most prominently, reelected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed in his gambit to turn his minority into a majority government. The expense, resources and dangers of a pandemic election were rewarded with a nearly identical outcome as the last election.
Likewise, Erin O’Toole, who led his Conservatives to an almost identical result, will face discontent over his attempts to pull the party to the centre. Had the strategy worked, he would have been dubbed a genius, but failure will almost certainly unleash the wrath of his party’s right flank, which was largely thrown under the bus after O’Toole won the leadership on a slogan that depicted him as the “true blue” candidate, the more right-leaning of the two front-running options.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democrats, and Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, both appeared to resonate with their target constituencies, but, when the votes were counted, their electoral fortunes were only mildly improved. Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party, lost his bid for a seat in Quebec and, while his party’s surprisingly strong showing in parts of the country, particularly on the Prairies, may have hurt the Conservatives, it left his own candidates empty-handed.
Several B.C. ridings remained too close to call at press time, including Vancouver Granville. Liberal Taleeb Noormohamad was about 200 votes ahead of New Democrat Anjali Appadurai as mail-in ballots were being counted. Despite polls showing Liberals falling behind in the province, the party appears to have held all its seats and even picked up both Richmond ridings. Steveston-Richmond East is a swing riding that has returned to the Liberal fold after a two-year interregnum. But, while few observers thought Richmond Centre was in play, Conservative incumbent Alice Wong is marginally behind Liberal Wilson Miao.
There were only two known Jewish candidates in British Columbia. In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Conservative Tamara Kronis remains about 1,000 votes behind New Democrat Lisa Marie Barron at press time, a margin that will be a steep climb to overcome with just mail-in ballots remaining. The riding was watched nationally, as it was one of just two Green seats in Parliament. Paul Manly, who has a history of anti-Israel activism, fell to third place in a tight race. In West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, New Democrat Avi Lewis placed a respectable third, with about 26% of the vote in one of Canada’s wealthiest ridings, while Liberal incumbent Patrick Weiler held on against a comeback effort by former Conservative MP John Weston.