Toronto-St Paul’s by-election: candidate makes history with zero votes

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Monday night’s by-election in Toronto-St Paul’s was a devastating defeat for the Liberals, but it also marked perhaps the only time in Canadian history that a candidate for elected office received no voice.

The by-election broke the all-time Canadian record for the longest electoral run. A group of activists unhappy with the Trudeau government’s abandonment of electoral reform conspired to stuff ballots with paper candidates, resulting in more than 80 names vying for the riding.

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According to the first results, the protesting candidates all collected at least a few throwaway votes, except one: FĂ©lix-Antoine Hamel, who obtained zero.

Hamel doesn’t live in the riding and so couldn’t vote for himself, and something about his name apparently dissuaded protesting Toronto voters from choosing him as their preferred throwaway candidate.

He is certainly the first federal candidate in modern Canadian history not to receive a single vote, and he may well be the first in the history of Confederation, or even British North America in general.

As for who Hamel is, his documents filed with Elections Canada only reveal that his official agent is Kieran Szuchewycz, the same agent for all other protest candidates. But he shares a name with a Montreal free jazz saxophonist who once worked in a Plateau bookstore.

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