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NEWS: Freeland wins despite lower turnout (Fall 2021)

November 11th, 2021 · No Comments

Order of results in Uni-Rosedale largely unchanged this round

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was re-elected for the third time in University-Rosedale on September 21. Her message that the Liberals could be relied upon to finish the fight against the pandemic and bring in $10-a-day child care earned her 47.5 per cent of votes in the riding, despite fewer polls and lowered voter turnout. COURTESY CHRYSTIA FREELAND

By Nicole Stoffman

Chrystia Freeland was re-elected for the third time as the member of Parliament for University-Rosedale in Canada’s 44th election on September 21. The Liberals won all 25 seats in the City of Toronto. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will lead his second minority government in a row with 160 seats. 

University-Rosedale was formed in 2012 out of sections of Trinity-Spadina and Toronto Centre, and has only ever been represented by Freeland, the country’s current deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs. She was first elected MP for Toronto Centre in 2013.

Voter turnout in the riding was down from 69.1 per cent in 2019 to 61.3 per cent this election. Pandemic voting protocols leading to long lines and fewer polls in University-Rosedale (down to 31 from 82 in the last election), likely had a role in discouraging voters. 

Nationwide, voter turnout for the 2021 General Election was 62.25 per cent, down from 67 per cent in the last election.

Minister Freeland won with 47.5 per cent of the vote and 22,451 ballots, down from 51.4 per cent and 29,652 ballots in 2019. 

Mail-in ballots have been available since 1993, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, over 1 million voters decided to vote this way. In the 2019 election, only 50,000 mail-in ballots were cast.

The incumbent overtook Nicole Robicheau, the NDP candidate, who received 25.2 per cent of the vote with 11,921 ballots, a vote share increase up 3 per cent from 21.9 per cent and 12,573 ballots in 2019. 

“The Liberals were down 3 per cent and we were up 3 per cent,” said Robicheau, “Maybe there was less of a feeling that Conservatives were going to take power, so people were voting with their hearts as opposed to voting strategically.” 

Robicheau says she met a lot of young, first time voters at the door, who were planning to support the NDP because climate was their priority issue. 

Steven Taylor, the Conservative candidate, earned 20.1 per cent of the vote with 9,307 ballots, a vote share increase up from 16.3 per cent and 9,473 ballots in 2019. 

“Families are worried that their children won’t be able to afford housing in the Toronto area in the future,” Taylor said. “I think the Conservative housing and economic plan offered some hope to residents in the riding.”

Tim Grant, the Green candidate, came in fourth place with 4.2 per cent of the vote and 1,974 ballots, down significantly from 8.5 per cent or 4,861 ballots in 2019. 

Green party support cratered nationwide this election, from 6.5 per cent in 2019 to 2.3 per cent in 2021. Former leader Elizabeth May said the party’s poor performance was due to leaked stories about internal conflict within the party under leader Annamie Paul, who lost her seat in Toronto Centre.

Justin Trudeau called the election on August 15 when his party was ahead in the polls. The Conservatives caught up and led in the polls for a few weeks. Following the debates, Grits and Tories remained in a tight race until the bitter end, with the Liberals gaining only three seats to win a minority government with 160 seats, and the Tories losing two seats, for a total of 119 seats. With the Bloc Quebecois and NDP in third and fourth place respectively, the 44th Parliament of Canada is almost unchanged from the 43rd. The Conservatives won 33.7 per cent of the popular vote, compared to the Liberal’s 32.6 per cent. 

Three Liberal cabinet ministers lost their seats, prompting Conservative pundits to call this election “A 600-million-dollar cabinet shuffle.” Trudeau was attacked for calling an election during the fourth wave of a pandemic by opposition leaders throughout the race. The prime minister countered that he needed a new mandate to steer the country out of the crisis.

Minister Freeland spent much of the 5-week campaign outside the riding in support of her fellow candidates. She campaigned on the idea that the Liberals are the best party to finish the fight against COVID-19. She also reiterated the Liberal promise to bring in a $10-a-day national child care program, build affordable housing, and a create a green economy.

From 2015 to 2017, Freeland served as Canada’s Minister of International Trade, overseeing the negotiation of Canada’s free trade agreement with the European Union (CETA). 

From 2017 to 2019, she served as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, leading the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

She was appointed deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in 2019 and Minister of Finance in 2020. 

In 2018, she was recognized as Foreign Policy’s Diplomat of the Year.

Ms. Freeland was born in Peace River, Alberta. She was educated at Harvard University before continuing her studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford. Before entering politics, Ms. Freeland was a journalist for the Financial Times, The Washington Post and The Economist. She served as deputy editor of The Globe and Mail and the Financial Times. She was also a managing director at Thompson-Reuters.

She has written two books: Sale of the Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution (2000); and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012). Plutocrats is an international best-seller and won the Lionel Gelber Prize and National Business Book Award.  

Ms. Freeland speaks Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, French, and English. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three children.

After the official results came in, Freeland took to Twitter to thank those who supported her, and promised to work just as hard for those who didn’t. Due to the ongoing pandemic, there was no victory party in the riding. Minister Freeland watched the results at home with her family.

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