Voters in the federal riding of Toronto-Danforth spoke last night and for the governing Conservative Party, the message was one of clear rejection.
The seat left vacant by the passing of Jack Layton last year was considered a shoo-in for the NDP candidate, Craig Scott and he was not disappointed, claiming 59.4 per cent of the ballots cast. But amid the sunshine was an unmistakable cloud, the NDP vote had slipped some 1.4 per cent from May 2011.
The returns were even more disturbing for the Conservatives, who barely out-polled the Green Party. With just over 32,000 of 74,512 eligible voters casting ballots on Monday, a turnout of 43.4 per cent, the Conservatives Andrew Keyes took an especially hard hit, losing 8.9 per cent of votes cast in the previous election.
Adriana Mugnato-Hamu of the Green Party, lost 1.8 per cent. Only the Liberal’s Grant Gordon picked up voters from last election, gaining 10.9 per cent, to finish second with 28.5 per cent of ballots cast.
The mood was somber at the Keyes’ headquarters, where campaign staff gathered to await the results and the expected arrival of Keyes. When asked about future plans, the Keyes campaign offered no comment.
Down the street at the Sidewalk Café, Green Party candidate Adriana Mugnato-Hamu, dressed in a symbolic green blouse and scarf, mingled with supporters and campaign staff while some of her five children ensured everyone had a drink and was comfortable.
She confessed to being tired after her second campaign in less than a year, and is unsure if she will run in the 2015 election.
Hamu speculated that the lack of media coverage the Green Party receives may have been detrimental to her campaign.
“Of course it hurts,” she said. “I know there was a debate on Sunday that I wasn’t invited to, as it turns out Craig Scott didn’t go either, and the Conservative candidate refused so it ended up being an interview with the Liberal candidate; I think it’s bizarre, but they do get a lot more.”
When asked about her initial reaction to the results Hamu said: “It’s kind of hard to understand, the Green Party is very loved in this riding, everybody loves the Greens, but they vote strategically, the Conservatives are absolutely hated but the small number of people they have are loyal.”
As the diverse crowd sipped sparkling wine and non-alcoholic cider, Hamu stood stoically watching Craig Scott’s victory speech on a screen above bar.
Mike Schriener, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, also came to show support. “I think we ran a great campaign, I think Adriana did a fantastic job raising important issues that affect our future and our children’s future.”
“We have very strong values and principals and we want to lay them on the table and be a part of the public policy discussion.”