Voters Head to Polls in Four Byelections in Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario

Voters Head to Polls in Four Byelections in Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario
Signs outside an advance polling station in Burnaby, B.C., on Sept. 10, 2021. (Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters)
Matthew Horwood

Voters in Quebec, Manitoba, and Ontario are heading to the polls in four byelections on June 19 to pick four new MPs.

The byelections are being held in the ridings of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount in Quebec, Oxford in Ontario, Winnipeg South Centre in Manitoba, and Portage–Lisgar in Manitoba. In recent elections, all four ridings were relative strongholds for the incumbent parties.
In the Manitoba riding of Portage–Lisgar, Branden Leslie—the campaign manager of former MP for the riding Candice Bergen—is attempting to retain the party’s near two-decade hold on the riding, from 2008 to 2023. Challenging him is Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), who is vying to gain a seat for his party in Parliament.
During the 2021 election, the PPC found its highest level of support in Portage-Lisgar, gaining 21.6 percent of the vote compared to the Conservatives’ 52.5 percent. The run-up to the byelection has seen Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre accuse Bernier of being “just like” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while Bernier claimed Poilievre was “terrified” of having a “true conservative opponent” running in the riding.
While the riding of Oxford has been held by Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie for 19 years until his retirement, from 2004 to 2023, a recent poll by Mainstreet Research showed the Liberals and Tories are deadlocked, likely due to controversies surrounding the Conservative nomination process.

MacKenzie’s daughter Deb Tait ran for the Conservative nomination in the riding, but the co-chair of Pierre Poilievre’s leadership campaign in Ontario, Arpan Khanna, won the nomination instead.

Gerrit Van Dorland, an executive assistant to Saskatchewan MP Leslyn Lewis, was also abruptly disqualified from the race by the party’s national council just over a week before the nomination meeting, with some claiming his pro-life beliefs led to his removal.

Amid revelations about foreign interference in Canada’s elections, the federal government has introduced new measures to protect against interference in the byelections. These include “enhanced monitoring and assessing” of potential threats by the Security and Intelligence Threats Task Force, which consists of CSIS, the RCMP, Global Affairs Canada, and the Communications Security Establishment.