The October 15, 2022 municipal elections saw an unprecedented number of far right candidates fielded in the races for mayor, council and school board positions across the province. A minimum of 129 candidates were provably and publicly aligned with antivaxx, conspiracist, antisemitic or other far right ideologies in one form or another. (This is an underestimate of the total of far right candidates, possibly a significant understatement.)

At first glance it would appear that these campaigns were, by and large, a failure. Of these 125 candidates, only 14 succeeded in getting elected — 4 city councillors and 10 school trustees. No mayoral candidates were successful.

However, we also have to take into account the fact that at least a further 141 candidates were endorsed by the far right. 3 were voted in as mayors, 22 as councillors and 6 as school board members.

Bad enough. But leaving it as this would completely miss the true significance of the election results and the warning contained in them. The hard right failed utterly to make any sort of breakthrough on the municipal level, true. But crunching the numbers in greater depth shows their multiple campaigns made qualitative leaps in expanding their base and broadening their hearing.

They fielded 129 candidates minimum, for starters.

They received approximately 52,000 votes for city council candidates. (District of North Vancouver 2,471; Kamloops 6,734; Kelowna 8,242; Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows 3,601; Mission 3,578; North Cowichan 1,038; Osoyoos 1,076; Penticton 2,984; Port Coquitlam 968; Port Moody 939; Prince George 3,976; Richmond 4,500; Salmon Arm 887; Sicamous 409; Sooke 418; Surrey 4,873; Vancouver 3,446 and Victoria 1,805.) (*)

The right’s school board candidates did twice as well, racking up nearly 111,000 votes. (Abbotsford 8,156; Burnaby 8,757; Campbell River 3,242; Chilliwack 6,305; Coquitlam 5,413; Courtenay 1,168: Delta 4,219; Peace River North 1,260; Kelowna 6,080; Nanaimo 5,407; Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows 3,852; North Cowichan 2,671; Port Moody 1,329; Prince George 3,067; Quesnel 612; Richmond 10,550; Surrey 22,664; Vancouver 9,028; Vernon 1,659 and Victoria 5,428.) Half of these votes went to candidates on the provincewide Parents’ Voice slate, the rest to local formal or informal slates such as VIVA Victoria. Far right candidates for school board position received two to four times the vote of their counterparts running for city council, likely due in large part to the fact that school trustee candidates tended to conceal their politics to a much greater extent than council candidates. This was especially true for candidates running on the Parents’ Voice slate.

This trend becomes more evident when we compare the municipal results with the PPC vote in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. (These are very loose approximations because the municipality boundaries do not precisely overlap riding boundaries, but if the results are taken with a grain of salt they provide a useful ballpark comparison.

For city council slots we see the following in towns where the PPC fielded candidates in 2019 and 2021:

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows6982,8203,601

The pattern is even more pronounced in the school board races:

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows6982,8203,852

What this shows is a continuing growth of support for the far right. Many school board contests saw this support more than double when compared to the PPC vote only a year ago (Abbotsford, Burnaby, Delta and Victoria). In Surrey it nearly quadrupled.

Measured by the number of candidates elected, the right’s 2022 municipal campaign was largely a failure. But from the standpoint of increasing organizational reach, brand promotion, training of cadres, intergroup coordination and (especially) increasing popular support, it was a substantial success.

We ignore this at our peril.

(*) The far right’s votes were calculated by reporting the actual vote in races where the right fielded a single candidate. In races where there were multiple

candidates provably linked to the far right, the vote of these candidates was averages, whether or not they were members of a common slate.