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Greens win second seat at Queen's Park in Kitchener Centre byelection

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Aislinn Clancy has won a historic byelection for Kitchener Centre and the Green Party of Ontario.

Clancy easily claimed the MPP seat Thursday with 47.99 per cent of total ballots cast. Her final vote count was 11,334, almost double her nearest rival.

Clancy celebrated her win at McMullin’s pub on Highland Rd. with Green Party leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner, as well as Mike Morrice, the Green MP for Kitchener Centre.

“Keep voting Greens into office, it really makes a difference,” she told the crowd. “I think it’s going to be a great couple of years. We’re going to get things done, and we’re going to serve the people well, we’re going to bring their voice to government.”

Clancy also spoke to CTV News about the feedback she’s gotten from residents.

“I think they want honesty and they want leadership,” she said. “Their life is getting harder and harder. And they don’t see that their political representatives are making tough choices to make a difference in their everyday lives, to make their life more affordable, to address homelessness, to improve and increase affordable housing, to address the higher rate of groceries.”

Thurday’s byelection gives the Greens their second ever seat in the Ontario legislature.

“This is a victory for Kitchener Centre,” said Schreiner, currently the only Green representative at Queen’s Park. “Kitchener Centre elected a strong, independent voice who is going to put people before party. I think the people of Kitchener Centre have sent a clear message to all politicians in this province. They want a new way of doing politics.”

Morrice echoed Schreiner’s sentiment.

“This is a win for our community. This is about making sure that our representatives are putting our community’s priorities ahead of political parties,” the MP added. “Putting our community ahead of the toxic partisanship, to look to make progress on what we care about most.”

“I think we’ve always had to work twice as hard to get elected, but then we work twice as hard once we are,” said Clancy. “I think that they see that when you vote for Green, you’re voting for hope.”

Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Aislinn Clancy, Green Party of Ontario candidate for Kitchener Centre, and Mike Morrice, Kitchener Centre MP for the Green Party of Canada, on Nov. 20, 2023.

The NDP’s Debbie Chapman finished second with 6,312, or 26.73 per cent, of votes.

Progressive Conservative Rob Elliot placed third with 3,109 votes, while Liberal Kelly Steiss rounded out the top four with 1,817.

"SIGNIFICANT VICTORY"

The Kitchener Centre seat has been vacant since New Democrat Laura-Mae Lindo stepped down earlier this year citing childcare challenges.

“The Greens pulled out a significant victory,” said Simon Kiss, a political science professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. “You could call this a small tremor in Ontario politics.”

It's also, he explained, a difficult loss for the NDP.

“The NDP, the second largest party, the official opposition, is going to have a hard time going forward [and] convincing voters that they’re a viable alternative to the Ford government. This was their seat, they had won handily in the general election, and they couldn’t hold onto it in a byelection.”

Kiss said it will be a concern for the party going forward.

“When they go into ridings in other parts of the province, like Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Oshawa, it’s going to be hard for them to convince voters in those seats that they’re a viable option.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

“The next step for the Greens is going to be trying to hold onto a seat like Kitchener Centre in the general election,” Kiss said. “It’s one thing to win a byelection like this, where every voter understands that the government is not at stake. It’s another thing for the party to then hold onto this in the context of a general election.”

TURMEL LOSES AGAIN

It was a crowded field for the Kitchener Centre seat.

In total there were 18 candidates in the running, representing 13 parties.

One of them was John Turmel.

The Independent candidate has made a name for himself by running in – and losing – elections.

The Brantford-native holds the Guinness World Record for most lost and contested elections. In 2016, that was more than 90 municipal, provincial and federal races.

Turmel didn’t win in the byelection, but he did get 13 votes, finishing in third-to-last place.

-- With reporting by Jeff Pickel

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