Politics·Canada Votes

Maxime Bernier's People's Party posts mixed-bag results after its first byelection test

The fledgling People's Party of Canada got off to an uneven start in its first electoral test Monday in a trio of federal byelections.

Christian talk show host Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson captures more than 10 per cent of vote in Burnaby South

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier speaks during a candidate nomination event for the federal byelection in the riding of Outremont in Montreal on Jan. 27, 2019. Bernier's party posted mixed results after a trio of federal byelections Monday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The fledgling People's Party of Canada got off to an uneven start in its first electoral test Monday in a trio of federal byelections.

The party, founded last fall by former Conservative leadership contender Maxime Bernier, captured some 11 per cent of the vote in the Vancouver-area riding of Burnaby South but failed to make much of a splash among voters in the rural Ontario riding of York—Simcoe or the urban Montreal-area riding of Outremont where the party had less than 2 per cent of the final tally.

Bernier tweeted early Tuesday that the poor Ontario and Quebec numbers were "disappointing" and said he "expected more" from those ridings while praising the more favourable Burnaby result as "great."

"Our party was born only 5 months ago!" Bernier wrote. "This is only the beginning of our journey. We are in it for the long haul ... Let's work even harder now to find the best candidates and be ready for the general election."

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, a former Christian talk show host who had some name recognition before launching her candidacy, was tapped by Bernier to represent the People's Party in Burnaby South. She delivered the best result of the night for the new political outfit.

While she was a source of controversy because of some past remarks, Thompson peeled away enough votes from the more established parties to place fourth overall.

Thompson, whose slogan was of "Canada for Canadians," ran a decidedly populist campaign for Parliament. Thompson has said her base was heavily comprised of evangelical Chinese-Canadian churchgoers in the diverse B.C. riding.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, left, and Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, right, pose for a photo. (Facebook)

The comparatively strong showing by Thompson — in a riding ultimately won by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — appeared to cut in to the Conservative party's results in that riding.

Conservative Burnaby candidate, Jay Shin, captured about 23 per cent of the vote — five points less than what the previous Conservative candidate there managed to achieve in the 2015 federal election. Shin placed third behind Singh and Liberal candidate Richard T. Lee.

In central Canada, meanwhile, the People's Party proved to be a marginal political force.

For example, in York—Simcoe, Ont., People's Party candidate Robert Geurts, a criminal defence lawyer, placed a distant sixth out of nine candidates.

Geurts, best known for his past role as a prosecutor during the Paul Bernardo trial, was even outpaced by Dorian Baxter a candidate for the minor centre-right PC Party, an entity with a name similar to the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Scot Davidson ultimately held the rural seat for the Conservative party with a 20-point margin over Liberal Shaun Tanaka.

Fewer than 20 per cent of registered voters in York—Simcoe bothered to vote in Monday's contest.

Even before the results were finalized, Bernier tweeted Monday that volunteers should be proud of what they accomplished so soon after the party was founded.

"The hundreds of volunteers who helped our candidates in Burnaby South, York–Simcoe and Outremont can be proud of what they achieved. They blazed a trail that thousands of others will follow across the country in October," he said.

In Outremont, People's Party candidate James Seale, a Canadian Army veteran, also failed to post a result better than 2 per cent of the vote.

Seale was a member of the armed forces for more than 30 years, and served overseas stints in Israel, Germany, Haiti and Bosnia before later becoming a military instructor and civil servant.

He said he was attracted to the party because of Bernier's promise to increase investment in Canada's defence.

While Bernier's party disappointed in the Quebec riding, Green party candidate Daniel Green placed third — among the party's best ever showing in la belle province.

Green, the deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada, posted better numbers than Bloc Québécois candidate Michel Duchesne and Conservative candidate Jasmine Louras who placed fourth and fifth respectively in the riding that was last held by former NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

"The GPC has always been underestimated. But just watch us in October," Green tweeted Monday in reference to the forthcoming federal election.

While Mulcair won the riding by more than 11 points in the 2015 federal election, Liberal Rachel Bendayan easily captured the seat Monday outpacing NDP candidate Julia Sánchez by more than 15 points.

About the Author

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

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