Voters in four federal ridings are sticking with the status quo, returning two Liberals and two Conservatives to Parliament after byelections in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
CBC News projects Liberals Ben Carr in Winnipeg South Centre and Anna Gainey in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount and Conservatives Arpan Khanna in Oxford and Branden Leslie in Portage-Lisgar will win their respective races.
That means the party standings in the House of Commons are unchanged after Monday’s vote.
The four seats in question have long been considered safe for the parties that currently hold them.
If any of these ridings had changed hands, it would have been a major upset.
But the results may serve as a barometer reading on how voters in four geographically diverse ridings perceive the current state of affairs and the leaders of Canada’s two major political parties.
Liberal candidates defy polls to win 2 seats
While national polls say support for the Liberal government has slumped after eight years in power, Trudeau’s candidates handily won in two seats — and came closer than expected in a third.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s candidate in the rural Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar beat back a challenge from Maxime Bernier, the leader of the far-right People’s Party, but the Conservative contender, Damir Stipanovic, in a Winnipeg-area seat that has gone Tory before floundered in Monday’s vote.
The result in Oxford, a southwestern Ontario riding near London, was also closer than some Conservative party operatives had expected with Liberal candidate David Hilderley registering a vote share not seen by that party in a long time.
Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna is pictured at his victory party in the southwestern Ontario riding of Oxford. Khanna previously ran for the party in Brampton, Ont. (Isha Bhargava/CBC News)
As of 12:50 a.m. ET, Khanna had 42.5 per cent of the vote compared to 36.5 per cent for Hilderley.
The seat has had a conservative-leaning MP for the last 70 years except for a period in the 1990s and early 2000s when the right-of-centre vote was split between the Progressive Conservative and Reform/Canadian Alliance parties.
Tory who stepped down backed Liberal candidate
Longtime Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie triggered the byelection when he stepped down in January.
His daughter Deb Tait ran for the party’s nomination and lost to Khanna, a lawyer who previously ran for the party in Brampton, Ont. — a result that prompted accusations by Tait of wrongdoing, which the party has denied.
Tait, a Woodstock city-county councillor, claimed the party favoured her rival and she raised questions about voter ID verification during the nomination race.
In an unusual move, MacKenzie and Tait endorsed Hilderley, a retired principal and real estate agent, over Khanna, who has been called a “parachute candidate” for his tenuous connection to the riding.
The party infighting ultimately didn’t cost the Conservatives the seat — but a sizeable swing to the Liberals in a long-held seat may prompt some soul-searching at Tory headquarters.
There were 10 candidates on the ballot in the federal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount in Montreal. (CBC)
“One thing is clear — people believe in Pierre Poilievre’s positive vision for our country. We need more freedom in Canada,” Khanna said in his victory speech.
“For the farmer who’s putting food on our tables but is having trouble putting food on his own table because of the carbon tax, for the senior who’s on a fixed pension struggling to make ends meet, we hear you and I’ll fight for you every single day,” Khanna said.
The Liberal candidates in two party strongholds in Manitoba and Quebec have also won their respective seats and so too has a Conservative in rural Manitoba, CBC News projects.
Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, speaks to reporters in Winnipeg on May 16, 2023 after appearing in court and being fined $2,000 for breaking COVID-19 restrictions in Manitoba in 2021. (Steve Lambert/Canadian Press)
Voters in the Montreal-area riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount have elected Liberal Anna Gainey to Parliament.
The result is not unexpected given that the seat is among the safest Liberal ridings in the country.
As of 11:55 p.m. ET, Gainey had roughly 50 per cent of the vote — about the same as what former cabinet minister and astronaut Marc Garneau fetched in the 2021 election.
While it’s considered a Liberal stronghold, many anglophones in the riding were angered by the government’s recent overhaul of the Official Languages Act.
Gainey is a personal friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and previously served as the party’s president. Given those close ties, Gainey is a contender for a cabinet post in a future shuffle.
Gainey beat Green Party co-leader Jonathan Pedneault, a political neophyte who was elected along with MP Elizabeth May last year to lead the party. Pedneault was poised to finish fourth.
Tory on track to defeat Maxime Bernier in Portage-Lisgar
Further west, voters in the Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar have elected Conservative Branden Leslie to the House of Commons, CBC News projects.
Leslie had a commanding 65 per cent of the vote cast as of 12:55 a.m. ET — a tally that suggests he’s likely to trounce his main opponent, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier.
The former Quebec MP parachuted into the riding to try to win his party’s first seat.
That effort appears to have failed with voters choosing Leslie, a former political staffer who worked for a grain farmers’ advocacy group, instead.
Conservative candidate Branden Leslie is seen at his victory party in the rural Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar. (Ian Froese/CBC News)
Bernier chose to run in the riding because it’s one where the People’s Party performed best in the COVID-era 2021 federal election. The party’s electoral future is in question after Bernier’s poor showing.
Despite the lopsided loss, Bernier vowed to run again in the riding in the next general election.
“I’ll be back here,” he said in an interview with CBC News at his election watch party.
“It’s the beginning of a quiet, peaceful, commonsense revolution and you don’t do that in one election,” he said.
“For me, the most important thing is to grow our support and that’s happening and I will build from there for the next election.”
Bernier said the People’s Party is “the only national political party thinking about important issues” like relitigating the legal status of abortion, stopping what he calls “toxic transgender ideology,” and ending the country’s overreaction to climate change.
“Our opponent and the establishment try to say, ‘Oh no, those issues are settled.’ Well, they’re not,” he said.
Leslie and Bernier traded barbs throughout the campaign. Bernier has called his opponent a “fake” conservative. Leslie, in turn, has called Bernier “an opportunist from Quebec who will say or do anything he thinks people want to hear.”
To take on the far-right Bernier, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre visited the riding and used rhetoric targeting the World Economic Forum — an international organization that has become a focus of many right-wing conspiracy theories online — during a stump speech.
The riding, long held by former interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, is among the safest Conservative seats in the country.
Liberal Ben Carr takes Winnipeg South Centre
Also in Manitoba, voters have returned school principal and former political staffer Ben Carr to represent Winnipeg South Centre the House of Commons, CBC News projects.
Carr was running to replace his late father, Jim, who died of cancer in December.
The urban riding has been in the Liberal win column for decades — except for a four-year gap period after the 2011 election that produced a Conservative majority.
As of 12:50 a.m., Carr had about half of the vote — roughly six points better than what his father achieved in the 2021 election.