Five months out from the federal election, the Conservative Party has the most candidates named, its 277 nominees far ahead of the governing Liberals’ 197 candidates, according to the latest numbers from their parties.
That means the Tories have filled 82 per cent of the 338 ridings needed to offer a full slate. Maxime Bernier’s (Beauce, Que.) People’s Party of Canada isn’t far behind his former party, with 217 candidates chosen, said spokesperson Martin Masse.
The NDP, meanwhile, has filled a quarter of the ridings, lagging behind all others. Its 87 nominees put it more than 50 people behind the Green Party’s 141. The Conservatives, Liberals, and People’s Party each more than double the New Democrat numbers.
The majority of the Liberal cohort is pulled from existing MPs, with at least 161 of the 184 elected in 2015 deciding to go for another four-year run.
That’s the highest proportion of incumbent MPs running again of the three major parties, noted Liberal spokesperson Braeden Caley by email.
The Grits are also seeing “more potential candidates expressing interest than we’ve ever seen before,” added Mr. Caley, pointing to nearly 500 possible candidates who have asked for nomination paperwork in the remaining ridings across Canada.
The NDP, on the other hand, has seen a high proportion of its smaller cohort of MPs opting not to run again. Of the 44 elected in 2015, 14 members won’t be campaigning in 2019, meaning it’s lost a third of its incumbents. Some former MPs have come back into the fold, with Andrew Cash running in the Toronto area after being defeated in 2015, and Svend Robinson returning after a decade hiatus from federal politics, running in the riding neighbouring NDP leader Jagmeet Singh (Burnaby South, B.C.).
The Conservatives will have 83 of 97 MPs return to the ballot, said spokesperson Cory Hann, and at least 16 former MPs are running under the blue banner again. He said another 20 nomination races are currently open and ongoing.
The Green Party has been gaining momentum across the country, both in the polls and in provincial seats. It took eight seats and official opposition status in Prince Edward Island’s April election, building off the three New Brunswick seats won in September 2018, and two years in B.C. as a coalition partner. The party also won a seat in last year’s Ontario provincial election as well as its second federal seat in May’s byelection. New MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo–Ladysmith, B.C.) took his seat in the House of Commons on May 27.
The latest Abacus Data poll, published June 1, puts Green Party support at 12 per cent compared to the NDP’s 16 per cent—numbers the pollsters said “suggest some strengthening of the Green Party, and an ongoing weak trend for the NDP.”
The Green Party is “firmly on track” to get all 338 ridings filled, and has plenty of nomination meetings planned in the coming weeks, said John Chenery, the party’s communications director.
“There’s been a noticeable upsurge in interest in running for the Greens in 2019 and consequently we’re seeing an unusually high number of hotly contested nominations,” said Mr. Chenery by email.
That uptick in interest to compete under the Green banner has been “coast to coast,” he said, with contested nominations in B.C., Quebec, the Maritimes, and several in Ontario.
In B.C., where leader Elizabeth May holds her Saanich-Gulf Islands seat, the two are neck-and-neck in what appears to be a four-way race, according to Abacus Data, with the Greens “eating into NDP support.”
The Greens have named 16 candidates in the coastal province, while the NDP has confirmed 20. The NDP is furthest behind in naming candidates in Quebec, where Mr. Singh has struggled to get support, and the party has hovered in single-digit territory for months. The Abacus poll puts the New Democrats at 10 per cent, but still two points ahead of the Greens.
Eight of the 13 candidates the New Democrats have confirmed in Quebec are former MPs. That’s only a third of the 37 named by the Greens so far, and even further behind the 46 Liberal and 58 Conservative candidates.
The NDP’s place at the back of the pack isn’t a surprise. It’s lagged behind others in naming candidates since earlier this year, with only 21 confirmed in January and some analysts saying MPs and candidates were waiting to decide based on how Mr. Singh performed in B.C. in the February Burnaby South byelection. It was a decisive win, with Mr. Singh taking the seat with 39 per cent of the vote.
The party reached 40 candidates in mid-March, and the pace has picked up in the months since.
NDP spokesman Guillaume Francoeur said the party also has 36 nomination meetings scheduled so far in the next month, which would push the party over the 100-candidate mark by the end of June.
“The process is following its course as planned and we are confident that we will put together a remarkable slate of candidates everywhere across the country,” said Mr. Francoeur by email.
By the end of June, the People’s Party of Canada will have candidates in “well over” 70 per cent of ridings, said Mr. Masse, and will fill any leftover ridings during the summer.
“Even though the party has existed for barely barely eight months, we are doing very well and are on track to have candidates everywhere by Sept. 1,” said Mr. Masse by email.
The party has publicly posted 92 names, with the majority, 23, coming from Ontario, followed by 23 in Quebec, and 11 in British Columbia. Alberta is next with nine public nominees, followed by Saskatchewan’s seven.
Mr. Bernier, as the party’s founder and only current MP, is vying for a spot, though his fledgling party will have two former Conservative MPs, including Steven Fletcher, who left federal politics in 2015 after 11 years when the Liberals took his Manitoba seat. Mr. Fletcher attempted to run again for the Conservatives, but was rejected last year by the party as candidate. One-term Conservative MP Corneliu Chisu is also running under Mr. Bernier’s banner in the rejigged Pickering-Uxbridge riding. Mr. Chisu represented Pickering-Scarborough East between the 2011 and 2015 elections and is making the switch after he said the Tories were delaying the nomination and looking for another candidate.
The Hill Times
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