GUELPH — In a new projection posted on Sunday by 338Canada, the federal Green Party is ahead of their Liberal counterparts in what is considered to be a stronghold for the ruling party, just two weeks after the organization claimed the riding as a toss-up.
The Greens, who recently chose local businessman Steve Dyck as their candidate in a highly contested nomination, are 1.7 per cent ahead of the long-standing Liberals, who sit at 30.6 per cent of the projected vote, according to the riding page.
338Canada is run by P.J. Fournier, who was recently hired by Macleans Magazine to assist in covering the upcoming fall federal election. Fournier correctly predicted some 90 per cent of the riding outcomes in the Quebec election, but his projections do not include formal polling.
Fournier predicted in April that the Greens were some 2 per cent behind the Liberals, who are running one-term incumbent Lloyd Longfield. The riding has long been a spot of red in “a sea of blue”, and has traditionally been considered a reliable stronghold for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The new national electoral projections also place the Conservative Party safety inside majority government territory with 36.6 per cent of the popular vote, leaving the current majority Liberals trailing at 29.9 per cent. The 338Canada Canada-wide projections are near-exact to the aggregated CBC polling.
Many have questioned the projections from 338Canada, saying that until physical polling has been done for the riding of Guelph, it is all speculation. Fournier gave several reasons behind the projected numbers after reporting in April the Greens were second.
The astronomer and physics professor told GuelphToday that Guelph is the Ontario riding that could most likely turn Green. That would bring the total number of Green federal parliamentarians to two, as a Guelph MP would join Leader Elizabeth May in the House of Commons.
Last year, Mike Schriener won the riding with 45 per cent of the vote, ahead of the Progressive Conservative, New Democrat and Liberals candidates by a wide margin of 25 per cent. He was the first-ever Green candidate elected to the Ontario legislature.
Longfield and Dyck are the only candidates for the moment ahead of the election. The New Democrats are aiming to select a candidate in the coming months and the Guelph Conservatives and People’s Party of Canada are also without a candidate.
“We have been hearing at the doors that voters are really happy with their choice of Green [Member of Provincial Parliament] Mike Schriener and they want a Green MP too,” candidate Dyck said in response to the projection.
“It is great to see progress in the polls but the one that counts is the ballot box, and I am working hard to reach Guelph voters. I love knocking on doors and hearing what is important to Guelph.”
The New Democrats said they still see the Liberals as the frontrunners in the race this falls, with riding association head Tim Matthewson saying that “the Greens have been getting a lot of free, positive press lately.”
“Once voters start taking them seriously and really look into their policies — other than the environment —I think they’ll have second thoughts. They lean right on a lot of issues.”
Matthewson said that “polls are unreliable at the best of times” and that it is difficult to predict local ridings when the election is still six months away, explaining that “there is a long way to go.”
The executive chair said that once those in the city learn more about party leader Jagmeet Singh and the platform he brings forward for the fall, they will “like what they see”.
“I’ll stack our environmental policies against the Greens any day, and they don’t even come close to our commitment to social justice issues,” he said, referencing the Green’s self-described focus on the environment.
“With the NDP, voters don’t have to choose between the environment and strong social policies.”
The Guelph Post has reached out to all riding associations for comment.
Image of Steve Dyck from his campaign. There was a change to the original headline to add that this is a claimed “projection” by Fournier for clarity.