Canada's electoral history from 1867 to today

He's called... Nobody!

by Maurice Y. Michaud (he/him)

NobodyAllow me to introduce you to Nobody. He has won thousands of elections throughout Canada since 1867. Astounding, isn't it? And even more astonishing is the fact he wins more often today than ever before. So I'm surprised you never heard of him.

But in fact, no. I'm not surprised. Actually, I'm chuckling, because you are probably asking yourself, "What on earth is this Maurice guy talking about?!" And that's a fair question.

For an example, take a look at the results in this riding from the 1984 federal election. There were 46,791 eligible voters, and 28,831 votes were cast (including the 163 rejected), giving a voter turnout rate of 61.62%.

Grand Falls—White Bay—Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
4 September 1984
First-past-the-post
1 seat
 
General Election
Assembly 33
Candidacies: 3
 
Rank Candidacies Results Plurality Eligible
1 Winner (Opposition) False majority LIB William H. Rompkey ( 48 ) * 12,938 45.13% +824 27.65% False majority  2
2 PC Peter J. Walsh ( 53 ) * 12,114 42.26% 25.89% 3
3 NDP Ernest J. Condon 3,616 12.61% 7.73% 4
  Nobody Nobody 17,960     38.38% False majority  1
ID: 3828 (F) Total 28,668 100.00%   100.00%  
   
Eligible 46,791
Votes cast/Turnout 28,831 61.62%
Rejected 163 0.57%

Except that, on election night, broadcasters never show the row for Nobody. The story that was probably told that night was that this was a tight race, and that it was one of the few where the Liberal Party came on top (because, after all, that night, the Progressive Conservative Party did win 211 of the 282 seats nationwide). But the hidden truth? Nobody had "won" 5,022 more votes than Rompkey. In fact, 5,022 is 1,406 more votes than what the NDP's Condon had won!

To be fair, it's unreasonable to expect a 100% turnout rate. One of the highest turnouts in recent memory was for the second Québec referendum on sovereignty in 1995, at a whopping 93.52%. But up until the 1980s, in most jurisdictions in Canada, a normal turnout rate was considerably higher than 70%. When it would go below that, the reasons were circumstantial: it was war time, or one party was so dominant that the outcome of the election was a foredrawn conclusion. However, when the rate goes below 72% in a riding, Nobody has a far greater chance of winning. And given that a 72% turnout is almost considered a triumph these days, you can understand why he is more successful now than he has ever been.

For instance, the participation rate in the 2022 Ontario general election was a shameful 44%. As a result, who do you think won the 124 seats up for grabs?

To ask the question is to answer it, because indeed, it was...

Nobody.
 

Making a mountain out of a molehill?

I really wish I could say that I'm only winding you up, but the truth is that Nobody has been the winner in more than half of the current legislatures in Canada. The more the participation rates tumble, the more he's making a fool of us. And our democracy! One might argue that many of the current legislatures were formed during the pandemic era, but frankly, let's not kid ourselves. As much as the pandemic wasn't easy, it has, at times, been used as a scapegoat for all current ills, not to mention that Nobody's rise began long before it did. A more apt but disturbing argument would be to call into question the legitimacy of those who were elected by such a small proportion of eligible voters.

Nobody is the hands down favorite candidate in every election today. If we take the 1,110 races that have been held in general elections for the current legislatures, he has won 857 of them. In other words, his success rate was 77.21%. And no need to do the math for the by-elections, for which the turnout is always very low. For those, we already know that he has had a perfect record!

These tables show, by party, how frequently Nobody was the winner rather than the person elected.

Canada (Federal)
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
LIB 159 47.04% 138 86.79% 3 42.86% 3 100.00%
CPC 119 35.21% 75 63.03% 3 42.86% 3 100.00%
BQ 32 9.47% 29 90.63% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
NDP 25 7.40% 23 92.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
GRN 2 0.59% 2 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
IND 1 0.30% 1 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
CPC 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 1 14.29% 1 100.00%
Total 338 100.00% 268 79.29% 7 100.00% 7 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 4 Mar 2024 → 0.00%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   268 ↔ 159  LIB 
Alberta
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
UCP 49 56.32% 32 65.31% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
NDP 38 43.68% 27 71.05% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 87 100.00% 59 67.82% 0 100.00% 0 0.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 29 May 2023 → 59.79%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   59 ↔ 49  UCP 
British Columbia
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
NDP 57 65.52% 55 96.49% 2 50.00% 2 100.00%
LIB 28 32.18% 27 96.43% 2 50.00% 2 100.00%
GRN 2 2.30% 1 50.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 87 100.00% 83 95.40% 4 100.00% 4 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 24 Oct 2020 → 54.52%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   83 ↔ 57  NDP 
Manitoba
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
NDP 34 59.65% 33 97.06% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
PC 22 38.60% 22 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
LIB 1 1.75% 1 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 57 100.00% 56 98.25% 0 100.00% 0 0.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 3 Oct 2023 → 55.26%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   56 ↔ 34  NDP 
New Brunswick
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
PC 27 55.10% 14 51.85% 2 40.00% 2 100.00%
LIB 17 34.69% 5 29.41% 3 60.00% 3 100.00%
GRN 3 6.12% 1 33.33% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
PANB 2 4.08% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 49 100.00% 20 40.82% 5 100.00% 5 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 14 Sep 2020 → 66.14%
Newfoundland and Labrador
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
LIB 22 55.00% 22 100.00% 1 50.00% 1 100.00%
PC 13 32.50% 13 100.00% 1 50.00% 1 100.00%
IND 3 7.50% 3 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
NDP 2 5.00% 2 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 40 100.00% 40 100.00% 2 100.00% 2 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 25 Mar 2021 → 48.38%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   40 ↔ 22  LIB 
Nova Scotia
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
PC 31 56.36% 26 83.87% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
LIB 17 30.91% 16 94.12% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
NDP 6 10.91% 6 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
IND 1 1.82% 1 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
PC 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 2 100.00% 2 100.00%
Total 55 100.00% 49 89.09% 2 100.00% 2 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 8 Aug 2023 → 0.00%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   49 ↔ 31  PC 
Northwest Territories
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
IND 19 100.00% 14 73.68% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 19 100.00% 14 73.68% 0 100.00% 0 0.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 14 Nov 2023 → 0.00%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   14
Nunavut
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
IND 22 100.00% 16 72.73% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 22 100.00% 16 72.73% 0 100.00% 0 0.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 25 Oct 2021 → 49.91%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   16
Ontario
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
PC 83 66.94% 83 100.00% 2 33.33% 2 100.00%
NDP 31 25.00% 31 100.00% 1 16.67% 1 100.00%
LIB 8 6.45% 8 100.00% 2 33.33% 2 100.00%
IND 1 0.81% 1 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
GRN 1 0.81% 1 100.00% 1 16.67% 1 100.00%
Total 124 100.00% 124 100.00% 6 100.00% 6 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 2 Jun 2022 → 44.06%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   124 ↔ 83  PC 
Prince Edward Island
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
PC 22 81.48% 4 18.18% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
LIB 3 11.11% 2 66.67% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
GRN 2 7.41% 1 50.00% 1 100.00% 1 100.00%
Total 27 100.00% 7 25.93% 1 100.00% 1 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 3 Apr 2023 → 69.97%
Québec
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
CAQ 90 72.00% 35 38.89% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
QLP 21 16.80% 20 95.24% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
QS 11 8.80% 8 72.73% 1 50.00% 1 100.00%
PQ 3 2.40% 1 33.33% 1 50.00% 1 100.00%
Total 125 100.00% 64 51.20% 2 100.00% 2 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 3 Oct 2022 → 66.15%
Saskatchewan
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
SKP 48 78.69% 32 66.67% 2 40.00% 2 100.00%
NDP 13 21.31% 13 100.00% 3 60.00% 3 100.00%
Total 61 100.00% 45 73.77% 5 100.00% 5 100.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 26 Oct 2020 → 55.12%
Yukon
Party
Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Elected Nobody Elected Nobody
LIB 8 42.11% 6 75.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
YP 8 42.11% 4 50.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
NDP 3 15.79% 2 66.67% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Total 19 100.00% 12 63.16% 0 100.00% 0 0.00%
  Date and turnout at the general election: 12 Apr 2021 → 65.71%
Nobody was the winner of the general election:   !!!   12 ↔ 8  LIB 

Statistics and lists

The number of people having the right to vote is not available for all the ridings where an election has been held. It is known for the 15 races in Manitoba and 16 races in Alberta that were held using the single transferable vote proportional system (STV) in the first decades of the 20th century, but those are excluded because the way votes are counted in that system leaves the misleading impression that Nobody always won. Therefore, excluding as well races won by acclamation, the number of eligible voters is known for:

→ 71.11% of the races held at the federal level (8,366 of 11,765), and
→ 82.70% of the races held at the provincial or territorial levels (20,097 of 24,302).

For those, we can determine the number of times that Nobody has won. However, the aggregate data in this table does not show how declining voter turnout is leading Nobody to be the winner of most races today, except on Prince Edward Island. In order to see that, please select a jurisdiction to see the list of where Nobody was the real winner in that jurisdiction (CA for federal). You can play with the date range, and you will see how the list gets longer as the years are closer to 2024.

Races won by Nobody
Juri. Races → General Elections Races → By-Elections
Federal Provincial/Territorial Federal Provincial/Territorial
N N% N N% N N% N N%
7,962 3,030 38.06 19,120 7,310 38.23 404 223 55.20 977 558 57.11
560 253 45.18 1,961 1,124 57.32 16 14 87.50 54 46 85.19
687 370 53.86 1,843 765 41.51 17 12 70.59 135 77 57.04
380 162 42.63 1,821 773 42.45 20 15 75.00 66 28 42.42
292 70 23.97 756 159 21.03 12 2 16.67 40 19 47.50
132 105 79.55 937 285 30.42 12 12 100.00 62 43 69.35
355 101 28.45 1,090 363 33.30 22 5 22.73 64 37 57.81
23 18 78.26 256 134 52.34 0 0 0.00 11 9 81.82
8 8 100.00 112 54 48.21 0 0 0.00 11 5 45.45
3 0 0.00 0 0 0.00 0 0 0.00 0 0 0.00
2,843 1,086 38.20 4,381 2,519 57.50 154 81 52.60 76 74 97.37
93 6 6.45 504 11 2.18 4 0 0.00 28 10 35.71
2,154 710 32.96 3,784 816 21.56 134 75 55.97 333 166 49.85
406 131 32.27 1,448 266 18.37 11 6 54.55 84 40 47.62
26 10 38.46 227 41 18.06 2 1 50.00 13 4 30.77
     If CA, show
    and     


© 2019, 2024 :: PoliCan.ca (Maurice Y. Michaud)
Pub.: 28 Apr 2023 21:43
Rev.:  6 Jan 2024 08:58 (but data presented dynamically)