NDP MP Niki Ashton won northern Manitoba in a landslide victory last fall, but despite winning her seat by more than 6,300 votes, Flin Flon voters went a different way.
Poll-by-poll election statistics were released by Elections Canada April 6, covering each riding across Canada, including Churchill-Keewatinook Aski in northern Manitoba and Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan.
Results from advance polls and election day voting at Flin Flon-area polling stations went in favour of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) candidate, Cyara Bird.
Out of 2,465 votes cast at Flin Flon’s 11 polls, Bird received 1,077 votes, just ahead of Ashton’s 951 in the community. Liberal candidate Judy Klassen finished a distant third with 272 votes, while Ralph McLean of the Green Party received 117 votes. People’s Party of Canada candidate Ken Klyne received 48 votes - less than two per cent of the total vote in the community, but still higher than the 1.2 per cent of the vote he received across the riding.
In total, 2,482 Flin Flonners cast ballots in the election process, about 58 per cent of all eligible voters.
The federal results are in sharp contrast to the Manitoba provincial election held weeks before the national vote. In the Sept. 10 provincial election, NDP candidate Tom Lindsey received 1,084 votes in Flin Flon, ahead of Progressive Conservative candidate Theresa Wride’s 794 votes. Both candidates were based out of Flin Flon and reside in the community. In the provincial vote, Lindsey received more votes than any federal candidates, including Bird and Ashton, earned in Flin Flon itself.
Ashton may have lost the battle in Flin Flon, but she would come out on election night with 11,919 total votes throughout the riding, receiving the most votes in 49 out of 68 of the communities noted within the riding in Elections Canada statistics. Bird received the most votes in 10 communities, including Flin Flon, Snow Lake, Wanless and a number of smaller communities - Bissett, Clearwater Lake, Island Lake, Paint Lake, Pasquia Settlement, Ralls Island and Young’s Point.
Klassen, who finished third in the voting, “won” seven communities. Klassen and Ashton finished tied for the most votes in Pukatawagan, having both received 119 votes each.
In Thompson, Ashton’s hometown and campaign base, Ashton received 1,769 votes including the outlying area of Mystery Lake. That was over 500 more than Bird and over 1,200 more than Klassen.
Ashton received the most votes in The Pas and Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN), including the outlying areas of Ralls Island and Clearwater Lake. While the two mentioned outlying communities both voted for Bird, Ashton received 1,444 votes from the greater area, well over Bird’s 815, Klassen’s 393 and McLean’s 336 votes respectively.
Cross Lake went overwhelmingly to Ashton, as did Norway House. Sherridon, Cormorant, Leaf Rapids, Lynn Lake and other communities closer to Flin Flon voted more for Ashton than any other candidate.
Communities on the other side of the provincial border near Flin Flon saw a sharp split in party preference.
Results from Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River show Creighton and Denare Beach voted overwhelmingly for the eventual winner, CPC candidate Gary Vidal. Vidal received 531 total votes in the community, more than twice that of NDP entrant and incumbent Georgina Jolibois’ 232 votes.
Over 65 per cent of all eligible Creighton voters cast a ballot.
In Denare Beach, Vidal won by an even larger margin, getting 181 votes compared to Jolibois’ 67 and 48 votes for Liberal candidate Tammy Cook-Searson. Three hundred and thirteen votes were counted in Denare Beach, marking less than 50 per cent turnout.
In outlying communities near Creighton and Denare Beach, the scales tipped other ways. In Deschambault Lake, votes went overwhelmingly to Cook-Searson, giving her 185 votes to Jolibois’ 76 and only 11 for Vidal. Pelican Narrows and Pelican Narrows 184B each went overwhelmingly to Cook-Searson, with Jolibois finishing second and Vidal a distant third. In total Pelican Narrows-area voting, Cook-Searson received 428 votes, Jolibois earned 229 votes and Vidal received only eight. Sandy Bay saw a similar result, with 165 votes for Cook-Searson, 110 for Jolibois and 15 votes for Vidal.
Throughout the riding, a pattern emerged with Vidal and vote counts from both remote northern and Indigenous communities. Votes from communities with a higher population percentage of Indigenous people went toward Jolibois and Cook-Searson, while communities with lower percentages of Indigenous people swerved to Vidal.
According to results from the 2016 federal census, only two communities out of the 34 Vidal won last year - Chitek Lake and Green Lake - have a population that is at least 50 per cent Indigenous. By contrast, Sandy Bay, Pelican Narrows and Deschambault Lake (listed as Kimosom Pwatinahk 203 in the 2016 census) have populations that are above 95 per cent Indigenous. Cook-Searson won the vote in all three communities, along with 23 other communities including Sturgeon Landing, Montreal Lake, Cumberland House, Beauval, Pinehouse and Red Earth.
Vidal received the bulk of his votes in rural areas in the southern portion of the riding. Out of the two towns, 11 villages and 11 hamlets listed by the Saskatchewan government as northern municipalities, Vidal won four - Creighton, Denare Beach, Green Lake and Dore Lake.
Here is the list of communities “won” by each federal election candidate in both northern ridings last fall:
Niki Ashton (NDP)
Gods Lake Narrows
Little Black River
Little Grand Rapids
Opaskwayak Cree Nation
Pauingassi First Nation
South Indian Lake
Cyara Bird (CPC)
Judy Klassen (LPC)
Lake St. Martin
Red Sucker Lake
St. Theresa Point
Ken Klyne (PPC) and Ralph McLean (GPC) did not lead votes in any community
*Pukatawagan ended in a 119-119 tie between Ashton and Klassen
Gary Vidal (CPC)
Big River No. 555
Little Bear Lake
Georgina Jolibois (NDP)
Big Island Lake Cree Territory
Flying Dust First Nation 105
La Loche-Descharme Lake
Lac La Ronge 156
Little Red River 106C
St. George’s Hill
Tammy Cook-Searson (LPC)
Big River 118
Grandmother’s Bay 219
Little Bear Lake
Pelican Narrows 184B
Red Earth 29
Shoal Lake-Ruby Lake
Sturgeon Lake 101
Sucker River 156C
Uranium City-Camsell Portage
Witchekan Lake 117
Sarah Kraynick (GPC) and Jerome Perrault (PPC) did not lead votes in any community