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Some election results hang on handful of votes, as mail ballot count continues

MARIE WOOLF, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 24th, 2021

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have picked up one more seat in Quebec, pushing them slightly ahead of the Bloc Quebecois in the province.

Brome-Missisquoi is the only riding so far to change hands since Monday’s preliminary election results, which did not include some 850,000 mail-in ballots.

Once election officials finished counting postal votes in the riding Thursday, Liberal Pascale St-Onge edged ahead of the Bloc’s Marilou Alarie by just 186 votes.

That leaves the Liberals leading or elected in 34 of Quebec’s 78 seats, to the Bloc’s 33 and also puts them slightly ahead in terms of the popular vote.

The Conservatives are leading or elected in 10 Quebec ridings and the NDP in just one.

Nationally, the Brome-Missisquoi victory puts the Liberals at 159 seats, although one of them was won by a disavowed Liberal candidate – Kevin Vuong in Toronto’s Spadina-Fort York – who will now have to sit as an Independent MP.

Late Thursday, Taleeb Noormohamed was declared the winner in Vancouver Granville by 436 votes over Anjali Appadurai of the NDP.

With the mail-in ballot count still continuing in three tightly-contested ridings Thursday evening, the Conservatives stood at 119 seats, the NDP at 25 and the Greens at two.

However, recounts are expected in a clutch of close-run ridings, where a handful of votes separates the victor from the loser.

In most ridings in Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, counting was complete by Thursday afternoon, as well as in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

But across B.C. _ where more mail-in ballots were received than any other province _ election officials were still tallying thousands of votes.


RELATED: Federal election map and results

RELATED: Toronto, GTA ridings: 2021 Federal Election results


As the remaining results rolled in, election experts warned that, in a few photo-finish ridings, a recount will have to settle who ultimately sits in Parliament.

Experts say a recount is expected in the Winnipeg-area riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley where Conservative Marty Morantz beat Liberal Doug Eyolfson by just 24 votes.

Elections Canada said on Thursday afternoon that counting had finished there and results were being verified.

A judicial recount would likely be triggered there because the margin is so small, experts said.

Quito Maggi, a pollster who runs public opinion firm Mainstreet Research, said voters should expect recounts in a number of ridings.

“The Charleswood seat is heading for a judicial recount. I suspect that at least two or three other (candidates) will ask to go to recount,” Maggi said.

“We noticed at this election that there were a larger number than expected close races. The turnout was way, way down too. At least 1.2 million fewer people voted in this election than the last election.”

An automatic judicial recount is triggered if there is a tie between the two leading candidates or if the difference in votes is fewer than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast.

In other tight races, the loser has the option to go to court to ask for the votes to be counted again. The NDP, Conservatives and Liberals did not say, when asked by The Canadian Press, whether they would demand recounts in ridings where they have come second by a tiny margin of votes.

Among the close-run results is in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where less than one per cent of the vote separates the Liberals and the Conservatives. Liberal Terry Sheehan narrowly fought off Tory Sonny Spina by 247 votes after mail ballots were counted.

In the Davenport riding in Toronto, the Liberals’ Julie Dzerowicz won by fewer than 200 votes, after a close-fought challenge from the NDP.

The NDP snatched Edmonton Griesbach from the Tories, with a greater than expected margin, after a dynamic campaign by two-spirit Metis leader Blake Desjarlais.

Similarly, Liberal Patrick Weiler emerged Thursday from the mail-in count with a lead of almost 2,500 votes ahead of his Conservative rival in B.C.’s West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country.

Elections Canada expected more ridings to finish counting mail-in ballots Thursday night. But in some with thousands of postal votes _ many of them in B.C. _ counting will continue on Friday.

On Thursday evening, several B.C. ridings, including Nanaimo-Ladysmith, which is the site of a fierce battle between the NDP, Conservatives and Greens, were still counting.

In Victoria, elections officials were busy tallying up more than 12,600 ballots sent in by mail _ the most in Canada.

Counting was also progressing in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where over 10,700 people have opted for postal votes and Elizabeth May, the former Green party leader, was on Thursday declared the winner.

But in Richmond Centre, B.C., voters were holding their breath as mail ballots were tallied in an epic battle between rookie Wilson Miao and veteran incumbent Alice Wong.

On Thursday, Liberal Miao had a narrow lead over veteran Conservative Wong who has been the local MP since 2008.

Elections Canada said it expected counting to be completed in almost all ridings by Friday.

A terrifying week on campus at Western University

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Sep 23rd, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, Western has always been known as a party school, and with that comes a culture that can lead to sexual violence. But this year’s freshman orientation week (“O-week” as the school calls it) was horrifying even by that standard. Multiple accounts of sexual assault and violence are being investigated both by the school and the police. A fed-up student body led a 12,000-person walk out. And the administration has promised to take action and change the culture.

How? What happened two weeks ago on campus? How inevitable was something like this? And did an influx of young students, who had spent most of the past 18 months in lockdown only to emerge on their own for the first time, lacking support, make this even worse?

GUEST: Rebekah Rodrigues, news editor at the Western Gazette (You can read the Gazette’s coverage right here.)

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Most mail-in ballots have now been tallied: Elections Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 23rd, 2021

Elections Canada says it believes most of the 850,000 mail-in ballots not counted on Monday night have now been tallied, but there are still several close-run ridings that have yet to be determined.

On Wednesday, the ridings of Fredericton, Edmonton Centre, Northwest Territories and Yukon were declared for the Liberals after the count wrapped up, along with the Toronto riding of Davenport, where Liberal Julie Dzerowicz beat NDP candidate Alejandra Bravo by 165 votes.

Toronto’s Spadina-Fort York was declared for Kevin Vuong, who was on the ballot as a Liberal although he’d been disavowed by the party over a late campaign revelation that he’d been charged with sexual assault in 2019. The charge was later dropped but the party has said Vuong will have to sit as an Independent MP.

A recount is expected in the Winnipeg-area riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, where Conservative incumbent Marty Morantz beat out Liberal Doug Eyolfson by 24 votes.

In Edmonton Griesbach, where The Canadian Press is projecting that Blake Desjarlais delivered a notable victory for the NDP over the Conservatives, mail ballots are still being counted.

In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, less than a thousand votes separated New Democrat Lisa Marie Barron from Conservative Tamara Kronis, with Green Paul Manly, the incumbent, relatively close behind, where 6,892 postal votes were still being counted on Wednesday.

Elections Canada warned that in some ridings with thousands of postal votes, final results may not be available until Friday.

What’s happening in Alberta?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Sep 22nd, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, the province is suffering from an absolutely devastating fourth wave of Covid. Premier Jason Kenney was absent until it was too late to prevent the worst of it. Now, as hospitals blow past their capacity, Kenney is shuffling his cabinet and hoping vaccine passports can help right the ship. How did it come to this? What could have been done to prevent it? And will this cost the premier his job?

GUEST: Jason Markusoff, Maclean’s

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Early data suggests historically low voter turnout in federal election

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Sep 22nd, 2021

Despite long lines at a number of polling stations on election day – early data is suggesting voter turnout was actually near a historic low for a federal election.

According to preliminary data from Elections Canada the turnout was at least 59 per cent, which is the lowest rate in more than a decade and just above the all-time federal election low.

Some believe concerns due to the pandemic may have kept people away from polling stations and is the main reason that advance voting and mail-in ballots were so popular.

This figure will change with a million mail-in ballots still needing to be verified. Elections Canada also still needs to count ballots by those who were not registered but showed up at a polling station.

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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he is troubled by the apparent lack of interest in the election and says the snap election forced Elections Canada to scramble to try and make things accessible.

“I blame Mr. Trudeau,” says Singh. “He called an election without having laws in place that would have allowed us to make adjustments so that we could make sure there were easier ways to vote in a pandemic.”

Trudeau has not spoken publicly since election night and is yet to react to the low voter turnout. Liberal ministers have also been unavailable for comment.

The last time voter turnout was this low was in 2008 when just over 58 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot.

In 2019, 67 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot. The federal election in 2015 saw a voter turnout of just over 68 per cent.

Erin O’Toole pleads to lead Conservatives in wake of another election defeat

JOHN MARCHESAN | posted Tuesday, Sep 21st, 2021

Despite falling short in his first election as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Erin O’Toole says he wants to stick around to fight the next battle which he warned may be just 18 months away.

In a concession speech that seemed to be just as much a plea to hang on to the job he won only 13 months ago, he called on Canadians to be weary of Justin Trudeau’s true intentions while doubling down on his centrist approach.

“Over the past 36 days, we have demonstrated to Canadians that we have set out on a path to engage more Canadians in our Conservative movement. More people voted for Canada’s Conservatives than any other party and that’s a strength to build on,” said O’Toole. “Our support has grown, it’s grown across the country, but clearly there is more work for us to do.”

As of midnight ET, O’Toole’s Conservatives were leading or elected in 121 seats, the same as in 2019 even though they won slightly more of the popular vote than the Liberals, as they did last time. Those results ended up forcing Andrew Scheer out of the party. Predicting that Trudeau will plunge the country into another election in 18 months in yet another bid to secure a majority, O’Toole said he’s “resolutely committed to continuing this journey for Canada.”

The evening started well for the Conservatives as they managed to increase their standing in Atlantic Canada, a region which saw the Liberals hold 27 of 32 seats available across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador when the election was called. This time around, the Conservatives had secured at least six seats and as many as eight including a notable one in Nova Scotia with Rick Perkins defeating Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan in South Shore-St. Margarets.

While most riding winners were expected to be known on election night, Elections Canada has warned it could take up to four days to finish counting all special ballots, meaning some close races may not have official winners for several days. There are also almost 800,000 mail-in ballots to be counted, starting Tuesday, which could yet change the preliminary results in many tightly contested seats.

One of O’Toole’s mandates when he took the helm of the Conservatives little over a year ago was to appeal to a broader range of voters, specifically in southern Ontario and Quebec. Throughout the 36 day campaign, O’Toole tried to transform himself to meet the needs of the electorate, presenting himself as a moderate centrist in an attempt to win over disillusioned Liberal voters. And while the Conservative Leader was handily re-elected in his riding of Durham – a riding he has represented since a November 2012 byelection – the anticipated gains in the GTA simply failed to materialize.

Hampering O’Toole’s efforts towards the end of the campaign was Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. The far-right group, which once again failed to win a single seat, managed to increase its percentage of the popular vote from 1.6 per cent in 2019 to over five per cent this time and those gains certainly came at the expense of the Conservatives.

“I spoke to Mr. Trudeau and congratulated him on a hard won campaign,” said O’Toole before cheering supporters. “And I told him if he thinks he can threaten Canadians with another election in 18 months, the Conservative party will be ready.”

“And whenever that day comes, I will be ready to lead Canada’s Conservatives to victory.”


RELATED: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals win minority government in 2021 federal election

RELATED: Toronto, GTA ridings: 2021 Federal Election results

RELATED: Federal Election 2021: Real-time results and map


Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

What did we learn from another Liberal minority win?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Sep 21st, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, a Liberal minority government. Likely within a few seats of where we started, 37 days ago. Did this election matter? What did it reveal about Canada’s political mood? About the health of our electoral system? And about the future of the two leaders who went head to head for the past six weeks? Turns out, more than you might think.

GUEST: David Moscrop

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

The $600M election only Justin Trudeau wanted: will it backfire?

CYNTHIA MULLIGAN | posted Monday, Sep 20th, 2021

It is an unprecedented election in the midst of a pandemic. As the fourth wave carries on, one only has to look to the crisis in Alberta to see COVID-19 is still a threat and far from over. But when the election was called the federal Liberals stumbled out of the gate, unable to explain why they triggered it. It is a question they have not been able to properly answer to justify the expense to COVID-weary voters.

“I was one of the people off the top that said this was the ‘Seinfeld election,’ an election about nothing. In some ways it has been, but it is certainly an important election,” observes Will Stewart, a public affairs strategist and senior vice president at Hill and Knowlton.

Among the many issues, the election will determine if Canada will, or will not, move forward on a national childcare plan and how it will tackle climate change.

At dissolution, the Liberals had 155 seats and the Conservatives had 119. Polls suggest the two parties are neck-and-neck, each needing 170 seats to win a majority, but it does not appear either will reach that coveted target. Veteran pollster John Wright with Maru Public Opinion doesn’t think it is possible, saying, “there is no one in the current landscape that is going to win a majority.”

CityNews will be covering election night across the country with a panel representing many perspectives and voices. Ontario NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa, a strong voice for Indigenous communities, will be in our station throughout the evening along with Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner who believes Trudeau may ultimately regret his decision to try and get a majority.

“I think it has the possibility of backfiring on Mr. Trudeau,” he says. “He never has defined why he called the election and what he needs a mandate for.”


RELATED: How and where to watch CityNews’ coverage on election day


On election night the CityNews panel will also include B.C.’s former provincial Liberal attorney general Suzanne Anton, Andray Domise from Maclean’s, Will Stewart from Hill and Knowlton, veteran Liberal insider Bob Richardson, and Estefan Cortes-Vargas, a former NDP MLA in Alberta and current transgender activist who says voters resent having to go to the polls.

“People are very resistant to this election taking place in the first place,” says Cortes-Vargas. “The anti-vaxxers are making a lot of waves and headlines but when it comes to talking about childcare, foreign affairs, the economy not a lot of things are making it into that conversation.”

In fact, anger has been a dominant theme in this election to the benefit of Maxime Bernier. He has been courting anti-vaxxers with his libertarian anti-establishment messaging. Many believe his People’s Party of Canada will pull votes away from Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives. Various polls suggest Bernier’s party has four to eight per cent support, a marked increase from the last federal election in 2019 when he won 1.6 per cent of the vote. Bernier may not win any seats, but he could cost the Conservatives seats in tight ridings and hand Trudeau a victory. A look at this cover of the conservative leaning Toronto Sun‘s newspaper on Friday, Sept. 17, shows the very real concern among some Conservatives.

 

Ultimately, victory will come down to which party can get out the vote on election day. That’s a given in any election, but the pandemic adds a new twist. Will voters want to stand in line in a pandemic? Stewart says COVID-19 could also impact the outcome.

“Those lines are going to be long,” he says. “We know we have fewer polling stations than we typically have, and Elections Canada has less staff all because of the pandemic so those are interesting questions and voter turnout could play a massive factor in this election.”

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine works in kids ages 5 to 11

LAURAN NEERGAARD THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 20th, 2021

Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.

For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now. Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press.

The kid dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience, he said.

“I think we really hit the sweet spot,” said Gruber, who’s also a pediatrician.

Gruber said the companies aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.

Earlier this month, FDA chief Dr. Peter Marks told the AP that once Pfizer turns over its study results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” to decide if the shots are safe and effective enough for younger kids.

Many Western countries so far have vaccinated no younger than age 12, awaiting evidence of what’s the right dose and that it works safely in smaller tots. But Cuba last week began immunizing children as young as 2 with its homegrown vaccines and Chinese regulators have cleared two of its brands down to age 3.

While kids are at lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, more than 5 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began and at least 460 have died, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Cases in children have risen dramatically as the delta variant swept through the country.

“I feel a great sense of urgency” in making the vaccine available to children under 12, Gruber said. “There’s pent-up demand for parents to be able to have their children returned to a normal life.”

In New Jersey, 10-year-old Maya Huber asked why she couldn’t get vaccinated like her parents and both teen brothers have. Her mother, Dr. Nisha Gandhi, a critical care physician at Englewood Hospital, enrolled Maya in the Pfizer study at Rutgers University. But the family hasn’t eased up on their masking and other virus precautions until they learn if Maya received the real vaccine or a dummy shot.

Once she knows she’s protected, Maya’s first goal: “a huge sleepover with all my friends.”

Maya said it was exciting to be part of the study even though she was “super scared” about getting jabbed. But “after you get it, at least you feel like happy that you did it and relieved that it didn’t hurt,” she told the AP.

Pfizer said it studied the lower dose in 2,268 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids. The FDA required what is called an immune “bridging” study: evidence that the younger children developed antibody levels already proven to be protective in teens and adults. That’s what Pfizer reported Monday in a press release, not a scientific publication. The study still is ongoing, and there haven’t yet been enough COVID-19 cases to compare rates between the vaccinated and those given a placebo _ something that might offer additional evidence.

The study isn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation that sometimes occurs after the second dose, mostly in young men. The FDA’s Marks said the pediatric studies should be large enough to rule out any higher risk to young children. Pfizer’s Gruber said once the vaccine is authorized for younger children, they’ll be carefully monitored for rare risks just like everyone else.

A second U.S. vaccine maker, Moderna, also is studying its shots in elementary school-aged children. Pfizer and Moderna are studying even younger tots as well, down to 6-month-olds. Results are expected later in the year.

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