Conservative Michael Barrett was building a healthy lead according to early returns in Monday’s local byelection.
Voters in Leeds-Grenville Thousand Islands and Ride au Lakes went to the polls Monday to choose their next member of Parliament, with the results still not final at press time but strongly suggesting the riding would remain blue. Barrett was hoping to succeed his late friend and colleauge, longtime Tory MP Gord Brown, who died suddenly May 2.
With more than half of the polls reporting, Barrett had amassed 7,647 votes, well ahead of Liberal challenger Mary Jean McFall with 4,280.
Barrett had 59.9 per cent of the vote, compared to 33.5 for McFall.
McFall ran against Brown in 2015 and fared better than any local Liberal in the last 22 years, but early indications suggested she would not repeat the result achieved in what was a red wave that brought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to power three yearas ago.
The New Democratic Party’s Michelle Taylor, who ran in the 2015 election as well, was a distant third at press time, followed by Green Party hopeful Lorraine Rekmans (another 2015 federal election alumna) in fourth and independent John Turmel – by his own admission not a very serious candidate – in last place.
Liberals framed the byelection as a chance for locals to choose an MP who would represent them on the government benches, while Barrett sought to capitalize on disaffection with the Trudeau Liberals, whose government is now late in its mandate.
Indeed, the winner of this byelection will serve less than a year, as the Liberals are required to call a general election next October.
This was the third election for local voters in the space of nearly six months, following the provincial election in June and the municipal election in October.
Preliminary numbers from Elections Canada suggested voter fatigue had set in.
Early voting in the byelection ran from, Friday, Nov. 23, through Monday, Nov. 26.
Although not confirmed, the preliminary figures indicated that 6,492 voters cast their ballots at the advance polls, less than half the 13,223 who voted earl voters in 2015.
A byelection in a riding close to Ottawa nonetheless allowed party leaders to show up over the course of the campaign to motivate their respective troops.
The campaign included appearances by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Full results are available on the Recorder and Times website at www. recorder.ca.