Election Day is finally here folks. Congrats for making to the end of this after finally after all of this we’ll finally know what our next Parliament will look like. And after tonight, the next set of political dramas will start, depending on the results of course. But I’ll get into that piece towards the end.
It’s been a campaign that hasn’t gone as most people expected and with the exception of the rise NDP and Bloc Quebecois, it’s been a campaign that’s been marked with next to no movement in the polls. We go into Monday night with the majority of pollsters putting the two front running parties tied with barely over 30% of the vote, which is unprecedented in Canadian history. Tonight’s story will really come down to regional and local races, factors and splits, oh the splits.
There are going to be a lot of things to watch for tonight and predicting anything tonight will be hard, so as far as I’ll go on that right now is to say that we’ll see a minority government. Actually I’ll be shocked if anyone comes away with a majority but given the unpredictability of the potential vote splits involved, it’s not completely impossible. But given the unpredictability of what might come tonight, here are some things I will be watching for to get clues as to what the night will bring:
- Does Fortress Atlantic Hold? – Having swept all of the Maritime seats in 2015, there is nowhere for the Liberals to go but down. But what I will be watching for is how many seats that the Red team ends up dropping. If that number jumps to double digits, that is a bad omen for the Liberals chance for a successful night. Also I will be interested to see if some of those seats go back to old patterns and go back into the hands of the parties who held them going into 2015. St. John’s East is one seat in particular I’ll be watching for just that, to see if NDP candidate Jack Harris gets back into the House of Commons
- Quebec and British Columbia Vote Splits – Both of these provinces promise to hold the most unpredictability tonight, with some potentially crazy three and four way splits. I expect to see a decent number of candidates in these provinces elected with 30% of the vote or less. In Quebec, the wild card will be the strength and ground game of the Bloc, if they are able to convert that support into seats. In BC, the wild card will be the Greens; as their polling numbers have continued to fall during this campaign, it remains to be seen if they will have the effect many thought they would at the start of this race
- The 905 – This region around Toronto promises to be a region to watch tonight for a few reasons. For the Liberals, you could call this their firewall; if they hold a lot of their seats here, they should still be able to hold onto government. If they lose a lot of seats here to the Conservatives, that could mark the end of the Trudeau government this time. And for the NDP, Brampton promises to be a wildcard onto its own. After having 2,000 people out for a Jagmeet Singh rally there at the end of last week and holding three seats provincial in the city, we’ll see if the Orange team is able to grow into a new region. This could prove to be one of the surprises of the night
- Alberta Blue? – While most of Alberta hasn’t been competitive for a long time, in 2015 we same more NDP and Liberal MPs elected there than we have in a long time. How much of that will hold in 2019? It looks like there could be a Conservative sweep of the province and it looks like Edmonton-Strathcona could be the last one to fall. Will it?
- Last May? – Coming into this campaign the Greens were having a moment, and many people thought that they could have a break through and maybe even overtake the NDP. But after a campaign that many observers have described as disastrous, the Greens have continued to fall in the polls and are now at the point where it’s possible the only seat they’ll have after tonight is leader Elizabeth May’s. What I’ll be watching for tonight (and the next few weeks) from the Greens is if Ms. May announces that she will be stepping down as leader.
On top of those overarching things I will be watching for tonight, there will be certain ridings I’ll be watching too. These ridings will also tell us a lot about how this campaign has played out:
- Berthier-Maskinongé (QC) – The story of New Democrat Ruth-Ellen Brousseau is well known in Canada now, to the point of becoming legend. With the rise of the Bloc, this riding will be a good test of the present and future of the NDP in Quebec. It is a very tight race and we’ll see if this part of the province stays Orange or if it falls under a BQ wave
- Hamilton-Centre (ON) – Left vacant by outgoing NDP MP Dave Christopherson, the Liberals have been targeting this since the beginning of this campaign. The NDP have popular city councillor Matthew Green running here and with the resources and organization on the ground, this riding will be a good bell weather to watch regarding the Liberals attempts to spook NDP voters to vote Red strategically. It will be especially interesting to watch given the rise of the NDP over the last two weeks.
- Humber River – Black Creek (ON) – This riding in Toronto has gone Liberal since 1962, well over 50 years, with Judy Sgro representing the riding for the past 20 years by herself. But this riding could be one to fall thanks to a combination of factors coming together (Sgro’s comments about Trudeau’s Blackface incident, the NDP running former city councillor Maria Augimeri, and the riding provincially having gone NDP in 2018). If this seat falls tonight, it will be a bad sign for the Liberals
- Kenora (ON) – Yes, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I have picked the riding where home is for me, but there are actual reasons for putting this one here beyond personal sentiment. This was one of the closest ridings in 2015, with Liberal Bob Nault beating New Democrat Howard Hampton by just over 500 votes. This is a riding with one of the largest Indigenous voting populations in the country, and with Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle running for the NDP this time, this riding will be a test of how the Indigenous community if feeling about the Trudeau record.
- Nunavut (NU) – Another seat that I’ll be watching for a similar reason to Kenora is Nunavut. This is another riding where all three parties are competitive and went Liberal last time as a part of the Trudeau wave. This time around I’m watching this riding for a unique convergence of factoris: the large percentage of Indigenous and Millennial voters. The Trudeau Liberals won government last time due in large part to large turn out in their favour from both Indigenous and young voters. Nunavut has a very young population and those voters could hold some serious sway here if they turn out. Given the trends in this campaign with both voting blocks, I’ll be watching NDP candidate Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who is a youth leader in the territory. She has been running a great campaign and I’ll be watching to see how that translates into votes.
- Vancouver-Granville (BC) – While there will be many seats in BC to be watching tonight, lets face it, we’ll all be watching what happens in Vancouver-Granville with Jody Wilson-Raybould. Going into this morning she seems to be in a good position to win her seat back in Ottawa but getting elected as an Independent is never easy. She is someone who many Canadians want to see back in the House of Commons and going into a potential minority government, her voice could carry a lot more weight in it.
Tonight promises to be a long night with a lot riding on the results. This also promises to be one of the closest elections we’ve seen in a generation at least. We’ll see what Canadians choose their next Parliament to look like but after 40 days and 40 nights, tonight promises to be unpredictable. It will not be the end of this drama, just the beginning of the next one.