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NDP comes out on top in Burnaby-South by-election, while far-right party has surprising showing

Last Updated Feb 26, 2019 at 10:19 am PDT

Candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson at Robert Bateman Secondary. (Courtesy Culture Guard Facebook page)

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – A right-wing, anti-abortion and anti-SOGI candidate carved a surprising 10.6 per cent of the vote out of Monday’s byelection in Burnaby-South and that has some political analysts warning a rise in populist ideals could split the vote on the right in the federal election in the fall.

While the win went to the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, 2,420 votes were cast for People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson.

University of the Fraser Valley political scientist Hamish Telford says it’s unclear if the party will be able to reproduce those kinds of results in the fall but if they continue to gain popularity it may split the vote on the right.

“That’s a very strong result for them,” he says. “If that result is replicated in other ridings I think we could see how it could cause problems for the Conservatives.”

The PPC didn’t fare as well in Quebec’s Outremont riding or in Toronto’s York-Simcoe area which also held by-elections on Monday. There the PPC picked up less than two per cent of the vote.

Star candidate

Part of the right-wing party’s success in Burnaby may have been in part thanks to the charisma and “star” status of Tyler Thompson, says Christo Aivalis, a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor in the history department at the University of Toronto.

Tyler Thompson, a well-known Christian radio host, recently wrapped an unsuccessful campaign for Burnaby’s school board in 2018.

“She has higher name recognition than most PPC candidates will have so maybe she’s not representative of what the results will be in a bigger election,” says Aivalis.

On top of that, the PPC was able to focus its resources in British Columbia on one small riding.

“In a general election they won’t necessarily have that luxury,” points out Aivalis, adding that running candidates in 300 plus elections will prove more challenging.

Still, he was surprised to see so much support for a party he says is running “largely on an ideology of hate and exclusion.”

Scheer in the middle

The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada should pay attention to the party that’s popped up to its right and, Telford warns, avoid making similar signals that would appeal to potential far-right voters.

“There is some appetite for that kind of politics in some markets and some people, I think, in Canada feel emboldened by this sort of rhetoric and public stance; politically incorrect posturing of President Trump,” says Telford.

But he points to the failure of Kellie Leitch whose far-right politics were rejected by Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer during the CPC’s leadership debate.

Now, he says, we see Bernier wholeheartedly embracing his new role as a critic of multiculturalism.

Telford says Andrew Scheer is stuck right in the middle of divisive identity politics.

“Multiculturalism is shaping up to be an issue,” in the federal election which is set to happen in eight months.

“If [Scheer] wants to win the election he can’t go down that road that Maxime Bernier is going, but on the other hand a lot of his voters might be attracted to the message from Maxime Bernier,” Telford says.