Contrary to popular belief prior to the election for chairperson of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board that the turnout would be far more numerous than in previous elections because of the Bill 40 controversy, the numbers at final count were disappointing, and in the minds of Anglophone leaders. Not the best of news.
The numbers that were reported by Returning Officer Clifford Buckland, at final tally showed that 1412 people turned out. On the September 26, 2021 election day when they cast ballots for ether incumbent Paolo Galati, or challenger Noémia De Lima. These 1412 taxpayers, who displaced themselves to show up to vote on either advanced polling day or election day itself represent 3.27% of the 43.131 registered eligible voters, leaving 96.3% at 41,721 as no-shows.
At final count, incumbent Galati received 1148 votes of the 1398 valid ballots cast, with De Lima picking up 250 in her favour. Mr. Galati’s support amounts to 82.1% support, with Mrs. De Lima’s share comes to 17.9%. Together, their vote totals represented 3.27% of all eligible voters.
Drop in numbers, but democracy served
A detailed analysis of the turnout level for the 2021 election reflects a lower voter-participation rate than in previous years. In comparison to past elections which attracted anywhere from 15 to 20% turnouts in the Laurier Board the 2021 turnout dropped by 500 to 700%.
As previously reported by TLN’s Martin C. Barry in a post-election report which went to press the day after the vote, the 2021 board elections across Québec were the first in a good number of years. In Laurier Board, voters were called upon to cast ballots only for the chairperson, as all board commissioners had been acclaimed in September 2020, with no challengers to their candidacies.
Following the election, Mr. Galati publicly congratulated Mrs. De Lima on her campaign, adding that “A variety of opinions have been voiced and democracy has been served. I am pleased that the electors of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board have entrusted me with this second mandate and I am already back at work.”
In a post-election statement of her own, to TLN, Mrs. De Lima said she was not surprised by the outcome. “Nothing has changed. The Board has been like that for many years.”
Elections in other school boards
In points beyond the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, throughout the nine Englishlanguage school boards 95% of all commissioners took their posts without having to go to the polls, earning acclamation prior to the voting day. At English Montreal School Board, the voter turnout for commissioner was at 9.8%; for Lester B. Pearson on West Island, 9.9%.
The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board describes itself as the third largest English school board of the Province of Québec. Its territory comprises the administrative regions of Laval, Lanaudière, and the Laurentides, spanning over 35 000 square kilometers.