PPC gains in rural Sask. add competition for Tories
Despite not winning a seat federally, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) saw vote increases in rural Saskatchewan on election night.
With some poll results still trickling in, the PPC has already vastly surpassed its 2019 vote totals in several Saskatchewan ridings. The new-for-2021 Maverick Party – born from the WEXIT movement – also siphoned some votes.
In Saskatchewan rural ridings, PPC vote percentages at-least tripled across the board from 2019.
University of Regina political scientist Jim Farney said PPC leader Maxime Bernier appeared to target Saskatchewan to increase the party's support among voters who want a right-wing political alternative.
“Since Harper’s loss in 2015 – and you see it provincially, too, with the Buffalo Party – there’s an element of ‘the system needs to radically change, none of the options on the table are doing it for us.’ So that’s a big part of the story,” Farney said, in an interview with CTV Morning Live Regina.
Joseph Angolano, vice president of Canadian polling firm Mainstreet Research, said the increase in PPC ballots is due to “protest votes” — traditional conservative voters switching their vote because they are upset with the current party platform.
“[The PPC] did take second [and] it did take third in quite a few seats in southern Saskatchewan,” said Angolano. “I don’t know if that’s going to continue if we’re going to be having another election in 18 months or not, we don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to see what will happen
Some of the most significant PPC gains were seen in Yorkton—Melville and Souris—Moose Mountain.
RESULTS MAP: Track every result in our interactive map
In 2019, the PPC received 941 votes, or 2.4 per cent of the vote in Yorkton—Melville, giving them a last place finish in the riding. Not even two years later, that number has more than tripled to 3,150 votes, or 9.5 per cent, resulting in third place for candidate Braden Robertson.
Cathay Wagantall, the newly re-elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the staunchly blue riding, said it was the right-wing competition that created the main challenges for her campaign in 2021.
“We did have the Mavericks and the PPC running in this riding as well, so it gave people other options. Obviously more so on the right than we’ve faced in the past, it’s usually been more of a challenge from the left,” Wagantall said, after the announcement of her projected victory on Monday night.
As of Tuesday morning, PPC candidate Diane Neufeld had 3,436 votes, or 9.2 per cent of the vote, claiming second place in Souris—Moose Mountain.
Further north in Battlefords-Lloydminster, the PPC also saw smaller gains, likely due to a surge in support for the Maverick Party.
With just one poll left to report, Ken Rutherford from the Maverick Party sat in third place with 2,113 votes, or 7.1 per cent of the vote, with Terry Sieben of the PPC close behind with 1,798 votes, or six per cent.
Both parties fell behind the second place NDP, but received more votes than the Liberal and Green parties in that riding.
The Maverick’s mission statement on their website said the party’s goal is “to achieve greater fairness and self-determination for western Canadians” through either constitutional change or the creation of an independent nation.
Speaking in Saskatoon on election night, Bernier told PPC supporters he wants to end the “COVID hysteria.” Despite growth in the popular vote, the party did not win a single seat in the House of Commons.
"This is not just a political party. It is a movement. It is an ideological revolution," Bernier said.
"Unfortunately, we won't be able to carry on this fight in Parliament, but we will continue this battle to unite Canadians under the freedom umbrella.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the improvement for the PPC in Saskatchewan and across the country could have been harnessed by the spread of misinformation throughout the pandemic and divisions within Canada.
“It think it speaks to some of the divisions that were highlighted throughout this campaign,” Moe said during a Tuesday morning press conference. “Some of the divisions that we are seeing in the broader society across Canada and across Saskatchewan, and some of those divisions are coming through with some embracing some of the misinformation that is available out on social media and on the internet.”
He added that he feels Maxime Bernier and the party attempted to “prolong the pandemic” by embracing anti-vaccine sentiments.
Despite the boost, Farney is unsure whether the PPC will have staying power to hold onto their share of votes outside of the pandemic.
“The question is, when we do get through COVID-19, does that alienation stay as strong as it seems to be right now,” Farney said.
In total in 2019, the PPC received 1.8 per cent of the vote in Saskatchewan. Although results have not been finalized, the party will likely come out of 2021 with a much larger share.
2021 RURAL SASK. PPC RESULTS
CTV News is still awaiting results from some polling stations. Results as of 10 a.m.
- Battlefords—Lloydminster –1,798 votes (6 per cent) up 4.2 per cent from 2019
- Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek –3,774 votes (9.7 per cent) up 7.9 per cent from 2019
- Cypress Hills—Grasslands – 2,807 votes (8.5 per cent) up 6.3 per cent from 2019
- Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan – 4,537 votes (11.6 per cent) up eight per cent from 2019
- Souris—Moose Mountain – 3,436 votes (9.2 per cent) up 7.5 per cent from 2019
- Yorkton—Melville – 3,150 votes (9.5 per cent) up 7.1 per cent from 2019
With files from CTV News Saskatoon's Josh Lynn