The Green Party of Ontario doubled its ranks in the provincial legislature with a byelection Thursday sending a second representative to join party leader Mike Schreiner.
Aislinn Clancy won handily in Kitchener Centre over the New Democratic candidate, in what had been an NDP riding since 2018. Clancy, a social worker and city councillor, is now just the second Green member of provincial parliament in Ontario after Schreiner, who represents the nearby riding of Guelph.
"The Green Party has a caucus now," said Andrea Perrella, an associate professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University.
"Two heads are better than one and one head (Schreiner) is already doing quite a bit of work. Likely the dynamics will be that much more interesting. Now, it's not as if the Greens will have much more of a say, as a backbench party. The capacity for interventions in legislative affairs is fairly limited. But just the same, their visibility has doubled."
Mike Morrice holds Kitchener Centre federally for the Greens, and ahead of the vote Clancy said that was an advantage.
Clancy was nominated as the Green candidate in early May and she said since then she and her campaign team knocked on almost every door twice. She thanked her campaign team Thursday night and set her sights on the legislature.
"Now, it's time to take our fight for better housing, childcare, transit and more to Queen's Park as we continue to stand against Doug Ford and his destructive agenda," she said in a statement.
Schreiner said the win is evidence of a growing "Green wave."
"It's clear that our commitment to people over party is resonating with Ontarians and we'll keep working hard to bring home better for them," he said in a statement.
NDP candidate Debbie Chapman, also a Kitchener city councillor, trailed Clancy, with about 26 per cent of the vote compared to Clancy's roughly 48 per cent.
NDP Leader Marit Stiles framed the byelection result as a rejection of Premier Doug Ford.
"As a team, we will reflect on the campaign, but the message from Kitchener voters is clear: After more than five years of Doug Ford, life has become harder and more expensive for everyone, except for his select insiders," she wrote in a statement.
Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Elliott is a former PC party vice-president and regional organizer who does not live in Kitchener, but in Keswick, north of Toronto. He placed third.
Stiles' statement also made sure to note that the Liberals, who held Kitchener Centre provincially for many years before 2018, placed behind the Progressive Conservatives.
The campaign came at a tricky time for the party, right as members cast their ballots last weekend for a new leader. The winner will be chosen on Saturday when the votes are counted.
The provincial Kitchener Centre seat had been vacant since July, when Laura Mae Lindo resigned the seat she had held for the New Democrats.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.