Byelection brouhaha: Calgary Centre, Durham and Victoria

Aaron Wherry’s by-election play by play

Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s by-elections in Victoria, Calgary Centre and Durham. Results should start coming in after 10pm when polls close in Victoria. We’ll be here all night (or at least as long as it takes to exhaust whatever drama can be found).

Some numbers by which to measure the night. First, the vote percentages from the 2011 election in each riding.

Conservatives 54.6
NDP 21.1
Liberals 17.9
Greens 5.4

Calgary Centre
Conservatives 57.7
Liberals 17.5
NDP 14.9
Greens 9.9

NDP 50.8
Conservatives 23.6
Liberals 14.0
Greens 11.6

If you combine the 2011 results for those three ridings, the cumulative total divides like so.

Conservatives 44.3
NDP 30.0
Liberals 16.4
Greens 9.0

9:45pm. Beyond the obvious (who wins?), some questions for tonight. How low does the Conservative vote go in Calgary Centre? How well does the NDP vote from 2011 hold up? Can the Liberals show improvement? Can the Greens make significant gains?

Calgary Centre is obviously the riding to watch (although the numbers will still be interesting in Durham and Victoria). After the Conservative party was united, Lee Richardson won 51.2%, 55.4%, 55.6% and 57.7% in four elections. If the polls hold true, Joan Crockatt could win the riding, but finish with a total under 40%. The lowest total for a winning conservative in Calgary Centre is 40.1%, by the Reform party’s Eric Lowther, when the right was split between Reform and the Progressive Conservatives.

10:01pm. First results are in. With 15 polls reporting, Joan Crockatt has a nine-vote lead in Calgary Centre.

10:03pm. With 20 polls reporting, Harvey Locke leads by 10 votes in Calgary Centre.

10:05pm. With 23 polls reporting, Mr. Locke’s lead is 34 votes.

10:08pm. With 26 polls reporting, Mr. Locke’s lead is 43 votes.

10:09pm. With 30 polls reporting, the Liberal lead in Calgary Centre is down to 35 votes. Meanwhile, Durham looks like a comfortable win for the Conservatives, though at the moment the Conservative vote is down slightly and the NDP vote is up.

10:12pm. Through 35 polls, Mr. Locke’s lead is 54 votes.

10:14pm. And just like that, with 40 polls in, Ms. Crockatt takes a 15-vote lead.

10:15pm. Back comes Mr. Locke. Through 45 polls, the candidates are tied with 990 votes.

10:23pm. It is of course notable that while Ms. Crockatt and Mr. Locke go back and forth, the Green party’s Chris Turner is getting a quarter of the vote in Calgary Centre. It will be tempting to suggest that, if Ms. Crockatt wins, it will be because the vote on the left was split, but I think that’s a problematic theory. Go back to the public polls in Calgary Centre. While the Green vote went up, the Liberal vote held steady. If anything, the rise in Green support coincided with a decline in the Conservative vote. If these numbers hold (as I write, Joan Crockatt is up slightly), the Conservatives will be down about 22 points and the NDP down about nine points. The Liberals will be up 14 points and the Greens will be up 15 points.

10:36pm. Safe to say Erin O’Toole will be the next MP for Durham. His share of the vote is down slightly (at the moment) from what Bev Oda took in 2011, but he’s still at 50%. The NDP looks like its share will be up and the Liberal vote will be down.

10:42pm. Still more than half the polls left to report, but Ms. Crockatt’s lead seems pretty steady. Through 100 polls, it’s 400 votes. Through 90 polls, it was 326 votes.

10:48pm. Meanwhile, in Victoria, the New Democrat (Murray Rankin) leads the Green candidate (Donald Galloway). A strong third in Calgary Centre and second in Victoria would probably qualify as a good night for the Greens.

10:53pm. That Conservative lead in Calgary Centre is narrowing. It was down to 334 votes through 111 polls. It’s now 238 votes through 121 polls.

10:55pm. Down to 218 votes through 126 polls. Up to 272 votes from 131 polls. Up to 293 votes through 135 polls.

11:04pm. Meanwhile, in Victoria, Mr. Galloway has a small lead through 24 polls. NDP and Conservative shares are down.

11:13pm. Ms. Crockatt’s lead went up to 400 votes and then back under 300 votes. Now it’s back over 300 votes. There are sporadic reports of other numbers (apparently from the Liberal side) showing the race even tighter than Elections Canada has so far reported.

11:27pm. Meanwhile, in Victoria, the Greens are back in the lead after losing it for a bit. At present, Victoria is, indeed, a “little bit Conservative.” Precisely, 12.8% Conservative.

11:36pm. Ms. Crockatt’s lead is now over 600 votes through 190 polls. If would let me hire a decision desk that decision desk would be probably be advising me to call it.

11:50pm. So let’s now obsess over the Victoria results. The big issue in this by-election: poop. Namely, what to do with it. The New Democrat support a new sewage treatment plant, the Green candidate wanted a better plan. This debate resulted in Peter Julian and Elizabeth May getting mad at each other this evening on television. There was also some controversy over whether or not David Suzuki had actually endorsed Mr. Galloway.

12:00am. As we hit midnight in the eastern time zone, the NDP lead is 19 votes in Victoria through 120 polls.

12:04am. With 135 polls in, Mr. Galloway and the Greens take a three-vote lead.

12:13am. If the Greens win in Victoria, they’re the big story of the night. But even if they don’t get a win—they’re down 39 votes as I type—they might be the story. Chris Turner seems to have made gains at the Conservative party’s expense in Calgary Centre. And now Donald Galloway is making gains at the expense of the New Democrats and Conservatives in Victoria.

12:25pm. The Green lead is 141 votes.

12:29pm. Let us pause here to note that the Green nomination in Victoria, after a tied vote, was decided by a coin toss. But it was the guy who lost the coin toss that got the nomination.

Trevor Moat was declared the winner Saturday night, even giving his acceptance speech. However, he later learned that he and Galloway had been tied and that his victory was based on a coin toss. “I requested time to reflect on this unprecedented and unanticipated result to determine what would be best for the Green party and for me,” Moat said in statement.

After some soul searching, Moat decided Galloway — who has a full slate of volunteers in place, has been an adviser to the party and has a number of high-profile supporters in environmental and academic circles — was the stronger candidate.

12:47am. The Green lead reached 300 votes at one point, but just like that the NDP’s Murray Rankin has taken a 200-vote lead.

12:55am. The NDP lead is now nearly 400 votes and so suddenly it seems that the Conservatives and New Democrats will hold their respective ridings tonight.

1:11am. The NDP lead is now more than 800 votes with 205 polls in and so it seems Murray Rankin will soon join Joan Crockatt and Erin O’Toole in the House of Commons.

1:26am. Democracy never sleeps, but I do. With Victoria looking decided, I’m off to bed. We’ll look at the final numbers in the morning.

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