The collapse in voter turnout is worse than I thought.

It has shrunk alarmingly in Newmarket-Aurora and in all surrounding ridings. 

As I tap this out at 7.40pm on 23 September 2021 the counts have been completed in Newmarket-Aurora; Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill and King-Vaughan. We are waiting for the final results from Markham-Stouffville and York-Simcoe.

But the pattern is very clear. Voter turnout is sharply down across the piece.

Astonishingly, in King-Vaughan fewer than half of electors stirred themselves to vote.

Big reductions in the number of polling places

Newmarket-Aurora's Returning Officer tells me:

"We have less than half of the voting sites than we did for the 2019 election. Specifically, we have not been given access to any schools. Previously we had 45 voting locations; this election we have 25 sites (not including single building polls)."

On Polling Day I voted in person at a Church on Main Street South, about two kilometres from where I live. There is no direct bus route from my neighbourhood to my Polling Place in Newmarket's downtown.

At the Polling Station I notice a comment box from Elections Canada, asking about my voting experience. I scribble out a note saying the polling place is too far away from my neighbourhood and this would have discouraged some people from voting.

Yesterday, I received a commendably swift reply from the Riding’s Returning Officer.

Challenging

She tells me it was an

“extraordinarily challenging election”. 

I agree.

She goes on to say:

“There has been no evidence that the location of polling sites has discouraged voters.”

On that one, though, we have to disagree.

If it wasn't the savage reduction in voting sites that kept people away from voting, what was it? 

The pandemic? Disaffection? Couldn't be bothered?

The table below shoes the voter turnout in Newmarket-Aurora and in all adjacent ridings, comparing the 2019 and 2021 Federal Elections.

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Updated on 25 September 2021. All counts have now been completed. The reported turnouts are as shown below.

The counting of the mail-in ballots is taking place as I tap this out.  

The last time I checked ( September 22, 16:44 ) 35% of the Newmarket-Aurora so-called "special ballots" had been counted. 

It looks as if the counting will extend into tomorrow, Thursday, 23 September 2021.

Preliminary figures

Elections Canada gave preliminary figures for mail-in ballots at 11.59pm on 20 September 2021.

I pick out my own riding, Newmarket-Aurora, and, for comparison, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill which is next door. The figures are shown in the table below.

What do I take from this?

The mail-ins have always been a small percentage of the total vote. But in this election the mail-ins for Newmarket-Aurora more than doubled (4,656) compared with the Federal Election in 2019 (2,053).

Will the mail-ins change the provisional result in Newmarket-Aurora or Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill?

I very much doubt it.

The Liberals polled well in the mail-ins in 2019 and in 2015 in Newmarket-Aurora.

They took 45% of the mail-in vote in 2019 and 47.5% in 2015.

The Conservatives took 29.8% and 35.3% respectively.

The NDP 13.6% and 12.2%. And the Greens 7.4% and 2%.

There are, of course, wild cards in this election. The PPC is one. But, if anything, a high PPC vote will harm the Conservatives.

76.9% of those receiving a ballot kit for Newmarket-Aurora actually voted. For Aurora, 72.2%

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Note: figures are as reported by Elections Canada at 13.50 on 22 September 2021

 

 

 

The big story of this unnecessary pandemic election is the collapse in voter turnout.

In the last Federal Election in 2019 the turnout in Newmarket-Aurora was a fraction over 67%, right on the national average.

Yesterday in Newmarket-Aurora the turnout was 56%. 

If the national turnout mirrors this, the turnout in yesterday's election will have been the lowest in the nation's history. The previous lowest was 60.9% in June 2004. (The highest was 79.4% in March 1958)

The savage reductions in the number of polling stations - caused by the Covid restrictions - will have played a part.

How did the vote change between 2019 and 2021?

The preliminary results from Elections Canada on election night show the percentage share of the vote for the Liberals in Newmarket-Aurora barely moved from 2019. 

The Conservatives and the NDP both saw increases in their vote share. 

The Green vote shrank alarmingly, a verdict on the recent turmoil within the Party.

The People's Party of Canada now moves into fourth place.

But mail-in ballots have yet to be counted. You can check how things are going, here on the Elections Canada site.

Clearly the pundits and commentators do not believe the mail-in ballots are going to change the overall picture. 

Plus ça changeplus c'est la même chose  

Nationally, the 2021 Federal Election has produced a picture uncannily like the 2019 result.

The Conservatives won the popular vote (as they did in 2019) but could not translate this into seats won.

This is one of the key characteristics of First Past the Post.

It is not proportional. Doesn't pretend to be.

It is designed to deliver strong, stable Governments - but that can be difficult where there is a multiplicity of Parties.

The Liberals do not have a majority and will have to govern with the consent or acquiescence of other Parties.

We shall see soon enough where this takes us.

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Update on 22 September 2021: From CTV - Several Ridings still too Close to Call

And from the Globe and Mail: Voter Turnout near historic lows (Note: G&M bar chart shows 44.6% turnout in 1898 but this was in a referendum on prohibition, not a Federal Election)

Update on 24 September 2021: Final Results confirm collapse in Turnout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 From the CBC at 1pm on 21 September 2021

 

Tomorrow evening, after Canada votes, we bow the knee before the will of the people. 

Who knows how the election will turn out?

But if Tony Van Bynen is re-elected tomorrow as the Liberal MP for Newmarket-Aurora it will be proof positive that bland works

I’ve been following Van Bynen for years. I started my blogs about Newmarket as a way of getting to know the Town that was to be my home. And I've learned a lot about how the Town works.

But as I put pen to paper, I often ask myself if I am going after the man rather than critique the policy. Ad hominem attacks are bad politics but what do you do if a politician will not engage in the argument?

Tony Van Bynen blocks people he disagrees with from his Twitter account. He refuses to reply to letters and emails. He refuses to articulate a clear position on many of the major issues of the day. He is content to read scripts written by others.

But he is not the only candidate running for election.

Harold Who?

The Conservatives’ Harold Kim remains a complete unknown, at least to me. He refused to participate in the two “debates” called by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Public Library. I emailed him to ask why and this is what he said:

“Unfortunately, the demands of the election campaign force me to make difficult choices on what events I am able to attend. Both the Aurora Chamber of Commerce debate and the Aurora Public Library conflicted with other activities. My long involvement in the Aurora community means many people – including the business community -- in Aurora are familiar with me, as an individual and a Councillor, and my commitment to the issues and concerns of this Riding. It’s always disappointing when another candidate stoops to making unkind comments without basis or merit rather than focusing on the issues of the campaign. It degrades an important exercise in our Country. I’m sure you are also aware, I planned to attend the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce virtual debate, scheduled for September 16, and it was cancelled.”

That won’t wash. He should have cleared his diary to participate in these events – especially after the Newmarket one was cancelled. I would never vote for a candidate (regardless of Party) who refused to engage in public debate. 

And what about the Green’s Tim Flemming. He told us that over the years he has supported all Parties but, four years ago, he finally decided to become a Green. He put his case effectively enough but he isn’t Walter Bauer, the impressive Green candidate in 2019.

Authenticity

The star candidate in this election was Yvonne Kelly whose authenticy and enthusiasm shone through at every turn.

When Van Bynen is hesitant and guarded, she is bold and forthright, telling it as she sees it.

Her politics are rooted in her lived experience as a social worker, helping those struggling to get by, guiding people through the system. She would be a powerful advocate for Newmarket-Aurora.

Electoral Reform

At the Aurora Public Library meeting she did not equivocate on electoral reform; she is in favour, lambasting the Prime Minster’s broken promise of 2015 when he pledged that would be the last election under First Past the Post.

Van Bynen was asked:  

“What is your party's position on electoral reform in particular proportional representation so that everybody's vote counts?”

This is his tortured and strangulated non-answer:

“I for one believe that we should also always take a look at improvements in any system or any process and I do think that is something we should look at. I'm not sure that proportional representation is the only solution. 

I don't know what got in the way of looking at that since I wasn't in the House at the time. I think we should be looking at reviewing it but we should be doing it in consultation, consulting with our communities and broadly looking at the options that are available so, yes, every organization, every society, should take a look and see if there are better ways to accomplish the representation that we need so that their government looks like the people it represents. 

I think that's an important commitment on behalf of our Party and I think that will be done. As to when that can be accomplished I think we have a number of very critical priorities ahead of us immediately. We need to get on top of the pandemic and we need to make sure that we get back into an economic environment where people feel safe; have a place to call home…I think we should look at it.”

He said he was not in the House in 2015. He might have added he was not then a member of the Liberal Party.

The truth is you cannot be a 71 year old politician and not have a view on PR – for or against. He simply chose not to tell us, sheltering instead in vacuous promises of consultations, as is so often his approach.

Handguns

On firearms Yvonne Kelly is clear and concise. On banning handguns Van Bynen says the Liberal Government has provided “our communities with options”. No. That’s incorrect. The Liberal Platform transfers responsibility for banning handguns (or not) to the Provinces and Territories.

If Toronto wants to ban handguns within the City boundaries and the Province says No then there is no ban. (Below: From the Liberal Platform)

 

 

 

The Two Michaels

And then this one from the virtual audience:

“Would you support a boycott of imports from China in an effort to free the two Michaels? If not what would you do to free the men?” 

Yvonne Kelly addresses the issue directly:

“I would support that. I think we have to talk very openly about standing up to China and to the human rights abuses…  it's also drawing that line in the sand. We have to live our truth. We have to stand up to the powerful.”

And this is Van Bynen, confiding in the small virtual crowd in Aurora. He is not addressing the United Nations with the world watching:

“We need to stand up. But I would suggest to you that this is a very complex situation and needs to be managed carefully in the context of our global relationships. Thank you.”

So where does this leave us at the end of this unnecessary pandemic election?

Vote for your first preference. 

My advice is to vote the way you would have voted if Justin Trudeau had changed the electoral system as he promised to do in 2015 - but didn’t.

Vote for your first preference and let’s see where the cards fall.

For my part, I will be voting for Yvonne Kelly.

Not just for her views, put forward with refreshing clarity. But for her authenticity.

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In 2019 the Liberal candidate for Newmarket-Aurora, Tony Van Bynen, signed the nomination papers for the then candididate for the People's Party of Canada, Andrew McCaughtrie. 

Why did he do this? What was in his mind?

Does he regret doing it? 

Has anyone asked him?

Contaminated

Does he feel ashamed or compromised in any way for nominating a candidate for a Party which has so coarsened our public discourse?

Van Bynen is silent on what happened two years ago. We must assume he supported the PPC to get McCaughtrie on to the ballot paper and draw votes away from the Conservatives. McCaughtrie needed the support of 100 electors in the riding and, back then, he found that quite a challenge without Liberal help.

"Trusted Community Leader"

And because I do not trust our "Trusted Community Leader" I took myself down to the Elections Canada office in Newmarket earlier today to examine the nomination papers of the 2021 PPC candidate, Andre Gagnon.  I had to double-check. The pages were turned one by one by the Returning Officer while I looked on. I was not allowed to touch anything nor take copies. Van Bynen's name does not appear. Nor do any leading Newmarket-Aurora Liberals.

The People's Party of Canada doesn't need them now.

According to the polls, support for the PPC has grown exponentially during the pandemic.

If the PPC draws enough votes away from the Conservatives in Newmarket-Aurora then the cautious and secretive old bank manager, our trusted community leader, Tony Van Bynen, will be home and dry and on his way back to Ottawa.

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