TORONTO — While Canadians didn’t have to wait too long on election night to find out who will lead the next government, there are still several individual seats too close to call and it could take a few days to get clear results with many mail-in ballots still to be counted.
As of Tuesday evening, 18 seats had yet to be called, according to CTVNews.ca’s election tracker, with the Liberals leading in nine of the races, the Conservatives leading in two, the Bloc Quebecois leading four and the NDP in three.
The number still to be decided won’t affect the overall election result, which saw the Liberals returned with a minority government, the Conservatives the Official Opposition, and both the Bloc and NDP holding enough seats to partner with the Liberals to push through legislation.
But the outcomes of the individual races will have an impact on the people who live in those ridings, and could also end up affecting the outcome of free votes, where members don’t always vote along party lines.
Seat counts are also often seen as a referendum on party leaders, and any last-minute changes to the projected counts could affect the fates of Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh, as well as opinions about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to force the election.
Of course, not all seats are created equal. There’s little doubt the Liberals would love to win back the seat in Vancouver Granville, which they lost after Jody Wilson-Raybould was expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2019 over the SNC-Lavalin scandal. She went on to win the seat as an independent in 2019, but chose not to run for re-election this year.
As of Tuesday, Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed was leading the riding by just 230 votes over NDP candidate Anjali Appadurai with 202 of 203 polls reporting.
While it’s not uncommon for some tight races to stretch into the following day after an election, the wild card this year is the record number of mail-in ballots cast due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest numbers from Elections Canada, more than 1 million mail-in ballots were returned this year, about 83 per cent of which were from people voting in their home ridings. As Elections Canada must verify that these voters have not also voted in person before the votes can be counted, it could take days to complete the full tally.
Indeed, Elections Canada says on its website that some ridings may not start reporting results from local special ballots until Wednesday, which means several close ridings could potentially still see a significant shift in their vote counts.
In Vancouver Granville, a total of 6,275 mail-in ballots had been returned as of Tuesday, meaning the race could still be far from decided.
The Liberals and NDP are also locking horns in the Toronto riding of Davenport, where incumbent Liberal Julie Dzerowicz leads the NDP’s Alejandra Bravo by about 350 votes — less than a percentage point — with 172 out of 182 polls reporting.
An even closer race is in the Quebec riding of Trois-Rivieres, where the Bloc’s Rene Villemure is trying to fight off a challenge from Conservative Yves Levesque. At last count, Villemure led 16,329 to 16,296, which works out to a gap of less than 0.1 per cent with 244 of 245 polls reporting, and 2,649 mail-in ballot having been returned. The seat was previously held by the Bloc’s Louise Charbonneau, who announced this year she would not run in the election.
Also hanging on a razor is the race in Sault Ste. Marie, where Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan leads Conservative Sonny Spina by just 55 votes, and 1,965 mail-in ballots having been returned.
There are also two seats in Edmonton still too close to definitively call, both of them representing potential defeats of Conservative incumbents.
In Edmonton Centre, Liberal Randy Boissonnault is holding miniscule lead of 15,454 to 15,318 over Conservative James Cumming. Next door, in Edmonton Griesbach, NDP candidate Blake Desjarais is leading Conservative Kerry Diotte 16,582 to 15,565, or just over 1,000 votes, in a riding where 2,166 mail-in ballots have been received.