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Canada's Socialists Win 3 Seats in Midterm Elections

July 22, 1987|From Times Wires Services

OTTAWA — The socialist New Democratic Party, taking advantage of a dramatic shift in Canadian political preferences, won three seats in Monday's midterm parliamentary elections, complete results showed Tuesday.

NDP candidates were elected in St. John's East in Newfoundland, Hamilton Mountain in southern Ontario and the Yukon Territory.

NDP candidate Jack Harris easily won the St. John's East seat, which had gone to the Progressive Conservatives for nearly 20 years. Similarly, another Progressive Conservative stronghold in the Yukon elected Audrey McLaughlin, while the popular mayor of Ottawa, Marion Dewer, won Hamilton Mountain by a narrow margin over her Liberal rival.

The by-elections demonstrated support for the New Democrats across a wide section of Canada.

The party was formed in 1961 as an alliance of industrial workers in Ontario with an earlier party based on prairie farmers. Until this year, it has always run third in federal elections, taking up to 20% of the vote, although it has at different times governed three Western provinces.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney commented: "We have got the message. We must perform better."

John Crosbie, a senior Cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative administration, told reporters that voters appeared to be "in a bad mood. They are fed up."

Jubilant NDP leader Edward Broadbent agreed that voters have been unhappy with the Mulroney government. "They feel let down with a government that promised a greater degree of change and candor," he told reporters in Ottawa. "They got neither. They have turned to the NDP as an alternative."

The NDP, the traditional underdog of Canadian politics, has made significant inroads in recent months. A Gallup poll released last week indicated that 41% of decided voters support the New Democratic Party. The poll, conducted July 8-11, also showed Liberal support dropping to 35% from 39% in a June survey, while Progressive Conservative support shrank to 23% from 24%.

The Mulroney government is in no immediate danger. After its landslide victory of September, 1984, it still holds 208 seats, the Liberals hold 40 and the New Democrats now have 33.

Many political observers believe Broadbent will move the NDP toward the political center.

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