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Conservatives win Toronto—St. Paul’s

Photo: Chris Young The Canadian Press A Conservative supporter looks at a screen showing the results of the by-election, but also the final game of the Stanley Cup Final.

Laura Osman – The Canadian Press

Posted at 6:16 a.m. Updated at 12:21 p.m.

  • Canada

A few hours after the Canadiens went to bed disappointed with their Stanley Cup final loss Monday night, the Conservatives won a surprising by-election with victory in the longtime Liberal stronghold of Toronto — St. Paul's.

Conservative candidate Don Stewart won by just 590 votes against Liberal Leslie Church in a morning upset, wresting a riding the ruling Liberals had held for more than 30 years.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called on the Prime Minister to call a snap election after what he described as a “shocking reversal” on social media Tuesday morning.

“Here’s the verdict: Trudeau can’t continue like this. He must call an election on the carbon tax now,” the Conservative leader wrote in English on the social network hours overnight as poll workers slowly counted ballots filled with independent candidates, thanks to a protest group trying to draw attention to the downsides of a first-past-the-post system.

Mr Stewart tried to sound optimistic when he arrived at his campaign office around 11:30 p.m., but he failed, with polls showing his opponent steadily ahead.

“Let's not give up,” he said.

Mr. Stewart and Church had closed their campaign offices hours before the final results, when it became clear that the vote count would drag on into the early hours of the morning.

The results swung just before 4 a.m., with the Conservatives taking the lead.

The results represent a significant victory for Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives, who have not won a seat in Toronto since 2011.

Leslie Church has announced that she plans to run again as a Liberal candidate in the next general election.

“Yesterday, the voters of Toronto — St. Paul's sent us a clear message: They want us to regain their trust,” Ms. Church said in a statement published on X on Tuesday morning. “They want a government that keeps its promise to be there for them. »

What consequences for Justin Trudeau?

The race was seen as a must-win for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the defeat is a blow that could spark calls for his resignation after 11 years in office. head of the Liberal Party.

The crushing defeat of the Liberals is a blow to a party already behind in the polls. The vote proves that the polls reflect reality, said Scott Reid, who worked as communications director for former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin.

“I don't I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the consequences of this defeat in the by-elections, analyzed Mr. Reid. Its implications could be vast for the government, for the Prime Minister, for the timetable of the next elections. I mean, he's a Yahtzee. »

Typically, when the Conservatives perform well in urban ridings, it's because the New Democrats have siphoned off support from left-wing voters, said Ginny Roth , a Conservative strategist who served as Mr. Poilievre's communications director during his leadership race.

That wasn’t the case in Monday’s byelection, when the Liberals and Conservatives faced off and the New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate won just 11 per cent of the vote.

But if the same thing plays out in other seats across the country, it could change the strategic dynamics of the next election, Roth said Tuesday.

“It’s a really promising and exciting prospect for the Conservatives, who I think now have a very broad coalition of support,” she said.

The election was Don Stewart’s first election. The financial executive has close ties to the Conservative Party as a long-time organizer and former colleague of Jenni Byrne, an informal adviser to Pierre Poilievre.

The riding of Toronto—St. Paul's, located in downtown Toronto, includes some of Toronto's wealthiest addresses, as well as an above-average number of renters and one of the largest concentrations of voters Jews in the country.

Carolyn Bennett, the former Liberal minister whose resignation in January triggered this by-election, won the seat nine times for the Liberals, and by more than 20 percentage points each time, except one.

But the Liberal campaign was contested by a grumpy electorate who lost patience with Justin Trudeau in a context of galloping inflation, unaffordable housing and an increase in hate crimes since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Conservatives called the riding's Jewish community during the race, urging them to vote for the Conservative candidate to send a message to Mr. Trudeau about what they describe as silence in the face of rising anti-Semitism.

With information from Mia Rabson in Ottawa and Sheila Reid in Toronto

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116