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Sep. 20, 2021 | Monday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: Riding is one to watch: It could be a wild race  

Richard Harley
Kevin MacLean
The Lake Report

Traditionally, Canada’s left-of-centre vote is divided among the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens.

That’s where the whole rhetoric comes from that a vote for Green or NDP is just taking a vote away from the Liberals.

And there’s some truth to that.

If you’re not a Conservative supporter, you might vote Liberal so as not to split the vote and ultimately, maybe, contribute to a Tory win.

But if you're a Conservative supporter, this year seems a different beast as now there’s a somewhat established far-right party that could divide the right-of-centre votes, too.

In 2019, the People's Party of Canada took 968 votes but that total seems destined to grow. Another wild card in the mix is that Independent candidate Mike Strange polled 4,997 votes in the last election. 

Where will those votes go? His total is more than double Tony Baldinelli's plurality over runner-up Andrea Kaiser in 2019. That puts a lot of votes in play.

All this means the race in Niagara Falls riding (which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie) really is one to watch.

There are lot of Tory blue signs across the riding, but there also are a growing number of people showing sign support for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) — an organization with an anti-mask, anti-vax leader who has been arrested for violating COVID-19 safety protocols (which are literally in place to protect Canadians from a potentially deadly virus).

The party realistically has no hope of a win. In Niagara, 80.2 per cent of voting-age residents already have had two doses of vaccine, and 85.5 per cent have had at least a first dose. While few of them are likely to support the People's party platform, if lawn sign and social media sentiment translates into votes, the PPC could play a spoiler role and split the right-wing vote.

Every purple People's party sign you see could be a beacon of hope for the Liberals and a concern for the Tories.

But where will the votes of the 19.8 per cent of Niagara adults who haven’t yet been fully vaccinated end up? Tories, Greens, People's party? Elsewhere?

Based on past PPC rallies, its voter base seems largely composed of libertarian-leaning, sometimes poorly educated and often religious people. In the past, if they voted, many of those people probably would have supported the Conservatives. They still might.

But factor in the nearly 5,000 votes that went to Strange and this riding really could prove a tough one for the Tories to hold. Unless many of those independent-minded voters will go with Baldinelli. Then he could win handily.

Stay tuned, pay attention to what this riding's candidates have to say and make a sound, informed choice on Sept. 20, no matter what candidate you decide to support.