Crowded field in Rideau-Rockcliffe raises vote-splitting fears

While it's taxing to have to sift through the viewpoints of 17 candidates for councillor of Rideau-Rockcliffe, at least it's more interesting than last time around, some voters said at a forum Tuesday night.

17 candidates vying to replace Tobi Nussbaum in April 15 byelection

17 candidates vying to replace Tobi Nussbaum in April 15 byelection 0:50

With 17 candidates vying to replace former councillor Tobi Nussbaum in this month's Rideau-Rockcliffe byelection, the final decision could come down to a handful of ballots — but at least they're keeping things interesting this time around, voters say.

Sixteen of the candidates attended a forum Tuesday night: Maurice Lamirande was unable to be there due to illness, according to event organizers.

The byelection was triggered by former councillor Nussbaum's resignation when he became CEO of the National Capital Commission.

Advanced polls happen this Friday, April 5, and voting day is Monday, April 15.

Eloisa Martinez, who lives near Montfort Hospital, said she's pleased by the wide variety in candidates.

"I'd rather have this situation than the situation of the last election where you only had two candidates ... in terms of selection, of diversity in terms of viewpoints," she said.

"Although it's a bit taxing, it's more interesting."

Castle Heights resident Eloisa Martinez came to hear what candidates had to contribute to discussions about income inequality and cultural diversity. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The candidate forum took place at Rockcliffe Park Public School and was organized by local community associations. 

The organizers allowed break-out sessions for people to speak directly with candidates. They raised issues such as traffic cutting through residential neighbourhoods, the proposal for another interprovincial bridge, and the handling of the Salvation Army shelter on Montreal Road.

Squeaker would be 'unfortunate'

Manor Park resident Eugenie Waters said the large slate of candidates has been somewhat overwhelming, and it could mean the winning candidate doesn't have a strong mandate from throughout the ward.

"That's unfortunate because there are some very capable candidates here and there's just too much vote-splitting," Waters said.

If, hypothetically, votes split evenly between the 17 candidates, the winner would only need about six per cent of the vote — or little more than 530 votes, based on turnout in the ward during last year's municipal election. 

While that kind of even split is unlikely, voter turnout is normally less during byelections than regular elections.

Manor Park resident Eugenie Waters said it has been difficult to get to know all of the candidates running in the byelection. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"There's many residents in this ward who are working multiple jobs, precarious employment, daycare commitments, many of those people don't have a big opportunity to vote," Waters said.

"With such a small margin, a candidate could take the ward and become the councillor without really being a representative of everyone here." 

In the 17-way race to replace former Orléans councillor Bob Monette, Matt Luloff won with 23.8 per cent of the vote or 3,622 ballots — only about 260 more than his nearest competitor.

Rockcliffe Park resident Tim Moore says he's 'very disappointed' that there will be no way to thin the crowd of candidates before voters make their final decision. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Rockcliffe Park resident Tim Moore said he would like to see an alternative to first-past-the-post in this situation. 

"I'm very disappointed that there are too many candidates and there isn't a double opportunity to choose a smaller number of them and then have them fight off against each other," Moore said.

The candidates on the ballot in Rideau-Rockcliffe are:

About the Author

Matthew Kupfer

CBC Reporter

Matthew Kupfer has been a reporter and producer at CBC News since 2012. He can be reached at and on Twitter @matthewkupfer


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