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Steveston-Richmond East: NDP candidate calls Richmond results 'progressive'

KPU political scientist says 'progressive' wins might reflect conservative attitudes
Parm Bains (Liberal), Kenny Chiu (Conservative), Francoise Raunet (Green), Jennifer Singh (PPC), Jack Trovato (NDP)

Steveston-Richmond East NDP candidate Jack Trovato, while coming in third himself, said he was encouraged by Richmond moving in a more “progressive” direction in Monday’s federal election.

While final ballots haven’t been counted yet, it appears both Richmond Conservative MPs, Kenny Chiu in Steveston-Richmond East and Alice Wong in Richmond Centre, have lost their seats to the Liberals.

Parm Bains was declared the winner in Steveston-Richmond East late Monday night by several media outlets with a preliminary lead over Chiu of more than nine per cent.

Trovato said it’s a “big shift” for Richmond to move from having two Conservative MPs to having two Liberal MPs, and while he thinks Liberals have more progressive policies than the Conservatives, he’s not necessarily happy with the outcomes he’s seeing.

“(The Liberals) talk a good game, they come up with all these wonderful promises, but invariably they don’t seem to follow through on them,” he said.

Last fall, the BC NDP won three out of four ridings in the provincial election, and Trovato said this “shifted that conversation” in Richmond and the hope was this would have translated into NDP votes in Monday’s federal election.

Preliminary numbers show the NDP’s share of the vote went up by four per cent in the riding – from about 15 per cent in 2019 to 19 per cent in 2021.

Liberal wins might reflect Richmond’s ‘cautious’ approach

KPU political scientist Greg Millard pointed out the two local ridings shifting from Conservative to Liberal seems to be specific to Richmond since there was no “red wave” sweeping the country.

He said it’s premature to say whether Richmond is moving in a more progressive direction; another viewpoint could be that Richmond tends to be cautious and adverse to risky bold schemes, preferring “sober management.”

If Richmond’s profile is more cautious, the Liberal wins make sense.

“You could see how voting for the governing party would fit this profile,” he added.

Hence, the current pandemic might have played a part, Millard said, whereby voters decided that continuity in the face of COVID-19 was the best way to move forward.

“The pandemic factor is hard to separate from previous elections,” he added.  

Green candidate wants party to define what it is

Monday’s election netted a last-place finish for the Green candidate in Steveston-Richmond East, even behind the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate.

Francoise Raunet, who ran for the Greens in Steveston-Richmond East, said the party either needs to get people elected to office, or change their objectives as a party.

The party needs to decide whether they want to be a “policy development incubator” or a party that elects candidates, she added.

To elect candidates, there needs to be more ground organization – door knocking, identifying voters and making sure they get to the polls – rather than just espousing their policy ideas.

“(The Greens) have never really managed to do that despite having ideas that all the other parties take,” she said, citing the example of the guaranteed liveable income, something the Greens started advocating for a decade ago.

Raunet said she wasn’t surprised at the low number of votes she received given she was a “paper candidate” and didn’t spend much time campaigning.

She told the News previously that she wanted there to be a Green candidate on the ballot in Steveston-Richmond East in order for people to have that choice.

On the morning after the election, Raunet said the fact some ridings didn’t have a Green candidate on the ballot was reflected in the overall share of the vote they received.

Preliminary results show the Green Party of Canada receiving 2.3 per cent of the vote, (down from 6.55 per cent in 2019) well below the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), whose share this time was 5.1 per cent.

Raunet chalked up the PPC vote share as opposition to public health measures that are in place to fight the spread of COVID-19, calling their supporters “one-issue voters.”

Millard said he found the PPC results interesting, and while there seems to be a dominant narrative that the fledgling party is drawing votes from the Conservatives, other preliminary studies are showing PPC leader Maxime Bernier is mobilizing non-voters.

This seems to be borne out by the fact the Conservatives got about the same number of votes as they did in the previous election, while the PPC increased its vote share by about five per cent.

The Greens elected two MPs – Elizabeth May, the former party leader, and Mike Morrice in Kitchener, Ont.

Raunet said she’s most “heart-broken” over the Paul Manly’s loss on Vancouver Island, but she said gaining a seat in Ontario will strengthen the party.

“It’s a disappointing day for the Greens and a pointless waste of money for Canadians… but hopefully we don’t have to do this for another four years,” Raunet said.

The election was expected to cost $612 million. In the end, the number of seats each party won is close to the result from the 2019 federal election when Trudeau won a minority mandate.

The near identical result to the 2019 result was “remarkable,” Millard said.
“You couldn’t have done it better if you’d planned it,” he added.

Elections Canada is still counting mail-in and special ballots – the results are expected over the next few days.

Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu and the PPC's Jennifer Singh didn't return media requests for comments on the election.

Preliminary results for Steveston-Richmond East:

Liberal Parm Bains: 15,420 (42.8%)

Conservative Kenny Chiu: 12,060 (33.4%)

NDP Jack Trovato: 6,857 (19%)

PPC Jennifer Singh: 925 (2.6%)

Green Francoise Raunet: 805 (2.2%)

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