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Rapid Recap: Federal By-election Results in Toronto—St. Paul’s


June 25, 2024Today at 4:30 a.m., Conservative candidate Don Stewart won the Liberal stronghold riding of TorontoSt. Paul’s in a by-election prompted by the resignation of former Liberal Cabinet Minister and MP Carolyn Bennett, who had held the seat since 1997.

The ballot counting extended for seven hours, with Leslie Church, Liberal candidate and former staffer for several cabinet ministers, leading until the final three polls released their results. In the end, Stewart won by a slim margin, securing 42.1% of the votes, against Church’s 40.5%. TorontoSt. Paul’s is a small yet densely populated riding which covers the north and northeast areas of Downtown Toronto. Don Stewart is the first Conservative candidate to secure this riding since 1988.  

The ballot featured a record 84 candidates, many of which reportedly entered as part of a protest against the first-past-the-post electoral system thereby significantly slowing down the processing times at Elections Canada. The voter turnout was uncharacteristically large for a by-election, with 43.52% of eligible voters casting a ballot. 

The Liberal candidate in the riding, Leslie Church, released a statement this morning on social media accepting the result and indicating that she will run again in TorontoSt-Paul’s in the general election next year. There has been no comment from the Prime Minister at the time of this Rapid Recap being distributed. The Prime Minister is in Vancouver, B.C. today and is set to go in front of the media after a 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST announcement.

Santis Insights

  • The narrative of the campaign has increasingly focused on the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after over a year of polling has indicated that the support for both the PM and the Liberal Party of Canada are at its lowest in years. If a general election were to be held today, based on any recent polling data, it would likely result in a Conservative government.
  • It is unclear what the Prime Minister will do at this moment responding to the upset victory from the Poilievre Conservatives in a Liberal stronghold. While speculation has been rampant about the future of the Prime Minister, at this point, Trudeau has given no hint of resigning.
  • If Trudeau is determined to stay as leader, the challenge is that now he must contend with both his caucus as well as the party grassroots who are no doubt going to become increasingly worried that there is no safe Liberal seat in Canada.
  • Polling aside, by-elections are not reflective of what would happen in a general election, but they do point to important indicators that may impact the general election, including:
    • The support for party leaders 
    • Impacts of recent events, including the war in Israel/Palestine (TorontoSt-Paul’s has a large Jewish community.)
    • The name recognition and support for local candidates 
    • The impact of the ballot (i.e. there were 84 individuals listed on the ballot.)
  • The Conservatives, of course, are buoyed by this win – often shut out of the vote-rich downtown Toronto. This will create a significant beachhead for the party in the traditional Liberal stronghold of TorontoSt. Paul’s.
  • The NDP have been largely absent from this discussion as this by-election was a horse race between the LPC and CPC. The NDP leader will have to comment on if he will continue to support the supply agreement given the turmoil the Prime Minister faces.
  • In the coming hours, days and weeks ahead, it will become clear how Trudeau will manage the fallout from this electoral loss.

Next Steps

Santis Health’s team of experts is actively monitoring the results of this by-election, please reach out to your representative if you have any questions or concerns. 

Santis is pleased to announce that our Election Tracker will return this fall, this time focused on the several scheduled provincial elections and the upcoming general election planned for 2025. The Santis Election Tracker showcases daily updates on the latest developments in the election(s), as well as an expert and detailed health-focused analysis of major party platforms, announcements and commitments. Stay tuned to our Daily Health Highlights for updates on when the Santis Election Tracker will go live!


Don Stewart 

Don Stewart grew up in Oshawa and is a Consultant at the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO), with a background in business and treasury. He has degrees in both Engineering and Business from Queen’s University and has spent time working at BMO and Morgan Stanley. He has also worked as a licensed professional engineer and is a CFA Charterholder. 




Leslie Church 

Leslie Church served as a Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff in the federal government to various ministers, such as the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, and Canadian Heritage. She has a law degree from the University of Toronto and also has a background in private-sector leadership roles, such as with Google Canada.