Monday, November 27, 2006

Green Leader Elizabeth May loses but wins in London by-election defeat, coming 2nd to Liberal winner

Elizabeth May won't be going to Parliament but sends a scare into NDP, Liberals, Conservatives in by-election loss

Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May failed in her prediction of an upset win in the London North Centre by-election Monday night, but I doubt she's crying too hard in her beer.

The Greens' vote went up 5-fold in the race won by the Liberals - and the Greens stole the most votes from their environmentally friendly rivals - Jack Layton's NDP.

But the vote totals for all three other parties were down Monday night, with the NDP dropping the most, almost 10% over the January 2006 federal election, while the Liberals and Conservatives dropped about 5 points each.

May made suprisingly major gains for the Green Party by capturing second place over both the Conservatives - who ran controversial former two-time London mayor Dianne Haskett - and the NDP. Liberal Glen Pearson won the riding with just 35% of the vote in a very split vote.

Haskett's defeat in the riding held by former Liberal MP Joe Fontana for 18 years is a blow to both the Conservatives and right-wing social conservatives.

The evangelical Haskett, who was once strongly criticized by Ontario's Human Rights Commission as mayor after she refused to declare a gay pride event in London, spent the last 6 years in Washington, D.C. working with the American Republican Party and a Christian group while completing a masters of law degree. She campaigned on re-opening the issue of same-sex marriage, which she opposes.

Winner Pearson is a left-wing Liberal who is a director of the local food bank and a human rights worker.

NDP candidate Megan Walker, another community activist, is executive director of a shelter for women in London and a former city councilor.

Final results from Monday's federal by-election (percentage of vote in brackets):


253 of 253 polls reporting 38,123 of 89,139 registered electors (42.8 per cent)
2006 2005
Glen Pearson, Liberal: 13,287 (34.9) (40.1)
Elizabeth May, Green: 9,864 (25.9) (5.5)
Dianne Haskett, Conservative: 9,309 (24.4) (30.0)
Megan Walker, NDP: 5,388 (14.1) (23.7)

1 comment:

Budd Campbell said...

For Jack Layton and the NDP, and for local candidate Megan Walker, it's a very, very severe blow.

Trying to low-ball it with the usual mumble-mouth material about low byelection turnouts, even though it's true that turnout was way down, will only exacerbate the damage. The truth it that as recently as a few days ago the NDP saw this as a good chance at its 30th seat in the Commons and put out the word to supporters across Canada to please send cash immediately! (Yes, I was one of them, and yes I did!)

It came despite the fact that Liberal Glen Pearson's communications director, who one election ago worked for the Tories, was found to be expounding homophobic, sexist and anti-Muslim opinions on the Internet ( One London newspaper columnist spun this thing for the Liberals by claiming he had interviewed a typical voter who didn't like Megan Walker's "hissyfit" with Pearson over the matter ( Hissyfit, eh? Is that a sexist bit of imagery, perhaps?

It came despite the fact that Megan Walker had letters of support from local environmentalists (, and NDP Environment Critic Nathan Cullen paid a high profile visit during the campaign.

In part it may be because Buzz Hargrove's union supported the Liberal candidate. Or because Liberal Pearson got visits from constitutional expert Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his celebrity wife, and from Belinda Stronach, who chose to come without Tie Domi.

It may be because on Afganistan the public likes what the NDP says, bring the troops home, but prefers to hear that message from the Liberals, because they see them as the more experienced party in international relations, a phenomon not unlike what happened in the 1988 free trade election.

In any case, it's a result that the NDP cannot ignore, and trying to putting a fake brave face on it will just further depress the party's remaining supporters. It's time for some rough, hard, uncompromising truths about why the party is falling backwards. That's not just something for Jack Layton to wonder about, the BC NDP is facing similar prospects.