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So what made this Harper majority? Time for some sobering statistics, you might want to prepare a barf bag:

6,201 — Friends, this is not the title of the newest Rush album

This is a number we need to remember over the course of the next four years and especially during the next election: 6,201 is the COMBINED margin of victory across the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings in Canada, with 6,215 being the number needed by the nearest parties in the race, to have won these 14 seats by one vote. 

The COMBINED margin of victory. This is how close the election actually was. In each of these races the Conservatives had a margin of victory of less than 800 votes. Most margins were much, much smaller. See below for a statistical breakdown.

14 — You need to remember this number for two reasons

Firstly, it is the number of seats the Conservatives currently have above and beyond their majority. In these 14 contentious races, if there had been even a slightly more focused effort by the parties on the left to consolidate their voter bases, we could have easily swayed the balance of power away from the Conservatives and prevented their majority (only 6,201 votes total were needed, spread across 14 ridings).

Fourteen is also significant because, if you can believe it, 14 votes was the actual margin of victory for the Conservatives over the Liberals in the eastern Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming. In this riding 11,357 people voted for the NDP or the Green party. 27,887 registered voters didn’t vote at all. Only 14 votes were needed to defeat the Conservatives. Let that sink in.

Here are the numbers in each of the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings. The vote splitting is very disturbing. [Editor’s note: This list does not include the numbers of registered voters in each riding who did not vote on May 2.]

Labrador (Newfoundland & Labrador)

 Conservatives/Liberals/Margin of Victory/*/NDP/Green Combined

Nipissing-Timiskaming (Ontario)

 Conservatives/Liberals/Margin of Victory*/NDP/Green Combined

Bramalea-Gore-Malton (Ontario)

Conservatives/NDP/Margin of Victory*/Lib/Green Combined

Etobicoke Centre (Ontario)

Conservatives/Liberals/Margin of Victory*/NDP/Green Combined


Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar (Saskatchewan)

Conservatives/NDP/Margin of Victory*/Lib/Green Combined

Elmwood-Transcona (Manitoba)

Conservatives/NDP/Margin of Victory*/Lib/Green Combined



Montmagny-L’islet-Kamouraska-Riveire-du-Loup (Quebec)

Conservatives/NDP/Margin of Victory*/Lib/Green/Bloc Combined

17,220 17,110/110*/14,861

Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere (Quebec)

Conservatives/NDP Margin of Victory*/Lib/Green/Bloc Combined


Don Valley West (Ontario)

Conservatives/Liberals/Margin of Victory*/NDP/Green Combined

Mississauga East-Cooksville (Ontario)

Conservatives Liberals Margin of Victory*/NDP/Green Combined
18,782 18,121/*661/9,989

Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba)

Conservatives/Liberals/Margin of Victory*/NDP/Green Combined
15,468/14,772/696 */9,332


Conservatives/Liberals Margin of Victory*/NDP/Green Combined

Desenthe-Missinippi-Churchill River (Saskatchewan)

Conservatives/NDP/Margin of Victory*/Lib/Green Combined


Palliser (Saskatchewan)

Conservatives/NDP/Margin of Victor*y/Lib/Green Combined

Total numbers for the 14 ridings:

Conservatives/2nd place/Margin of Victory*/Rest of the left

You’ll notice that these ridings are evenly distributed geographically throughout the country and the split affected the NDP and Liberals equally. Also, this list only represents the closest races. This is not a regional issue. It is indicative of what occurred throughout the country. 

Across Canada 7,867,870 people voted Liberal, NDP or Green — and 5,832,401 voted Conservative. This is a difference of over 2 million votes. Do not believe the hype. A government with 39.6 per cent of the popular vote should not have a mandate to drive through fundamental changes in policy.

The Progressive Conservatives and the Alliance had the wherewithal to “unite the right” in 2003 and it seems that until the left are able to arrive at a similar compromise or agreement they may very well be doomed to repeatedly collect 60 per cent of the vote and wield zero per cent of the power.

Dealing intelligently with the system we currently live in is the first part of our concern, but obviously when one becomes aware of how easy it is for the intentions of the voters to become distorted, it is hard not to conclude that some kind of electoral reform is needed. The system ought to be structured in such a way that supporting your party of choice in a straightforward manner doesn’t have disastrous and counter-intuitive consequences. People shouldn’t have to worry about this kind of electoral arcana.

We are one of just four countries in the industrialized world that still use the antiquated First Past The Post (FPTP) system in a world where nearly every other country has adopted a form of proportional representation (other FPTP countries include India, U.S. and The U.K. Last week, the British referendum on a hybrid of proportional representation called Alternative Vote failed, with around 70 per cent of the voters who turned out — just 41.8 per cent of those eligible — rejecting it). Arguments against proportional representation (PR) usually centre around the idea that it restricts regional representation and diversities, yet surely we must be capable of developing a form of PR that can address the unique needs of our nation while ensuring that every single citizen’s vote is counted, respected and better valued.

It is almost unimaginable for electoral reform to be passed by the current regime so it is important we stay educated as an electorate and vote responsibly in the next election. Hopefully next time we can elect a government that will respect the importance of electoral reform and listen to our demands for representation that reflect the real will of our nation.

We cannot let this happen again. Get the word out. In the meantime, check out these organizations:

Matt Peters spends the fleeting moments between elections singing in the very non-political Canadian indie band, Royal Canoe. He also masquerades as a producer and engineer. Ryan Boldt is an intinerant treeplanter and amateur political junkie, who wonders if the debilitating effects of both habits are worth it. They both live in Winnipeg.

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Cathryn Atkinson

Cathryn Atkinson is the former News and Features Editor for Her career spans more than 25 years in Canada and Britain, where she lived from 1988 to 2003. Cathryn has won five awards...