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Winnipeg South Centre by-election to have most candidates in Canadian history

The upcoming Winnipeg South Centre by-election will have the largest number of candidates in Canadian election history, as part of an effort to point out the flaws in our electoral system.

A Winnipeg-based electoral reform group orchestrated the unprecedented number of candidates.

"I think this is a great way to get more of a diverse, disengaged population to be more engaged," said independent candidate Christopher Clacio.

A total of 46 candidates are running for the federal seat. Clacio is among the many independent candidates filling out the by-election ballots alongside the Conservative, Green, Liberal, and NDP parties.

Like many of the registered independents, Clacio does not live in the riding. Some of the candidates don't even live in Manitoba. Under the Elections Act, anyone can run as a candidate in any riding in Canada, regardless of where they actually live.

It's an aspect of the elections system being exploited by The Longest Ballot Committee, a voter activist group - with organizers based in Winnipeg - that aims to satirize the voting process.

The purpose of the stunt is to elevate the issue of electoral reform, while highlighting deficiencies in Canada's current "first past the post" voting system.

"If you have a very close race and let's say the winner wins by a few hundred votes. He goes on to represent that riding as if 100 per cent of the riding voted for him or her," said Glen MacDonald, another independent candidate who lives in Toronto.

MacDonald believes if that result happens in too many ridings, it can lead to a negative, cascading effect that distorts representation in Ottawa.

"This is not about promoting one party over another," he said. "What this is about is promoting democracy and making sure we have accurate representation in this country."

The previous record for most candidates in Canada was during a 2022 Ontario election. At that time, Elections Canada created a special, two-column ballot which will also be used in the Winnipeg South Centre by-election.

Despite the high number of candidates, pollsters say the seat formerly held by the late Jim Carr will likely go to the Liberal candidate.

"Ben Carr has his father's last name of course because his father was well known and a cabinet minister," said Curtis Brown with Probe Research. "And it has a tradition for voting for a long time for Liberals."

Brown added that a strong show of NDP support in the riding could splinter the vote, lowering the chances of a Liberal win. Top Stories

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