Jon O’Connor went into the federal election hoping to change the democratic process by using social media as a platform to open communications between candidates and citizens. O’Connor ran as an independent candidate in the October 19th election in Whitby. Though O’Connor ended the evening with only 292 votes, he considered his role in the election a success.
A 15-year resident of Whitby, O’Connor is a former member of the Canadian armed forces, and writer. He went into the election with the hope of taking the concerns of his fellow citizens to Parliament, in an effort to make them heard to whomever might win the federal vote.
O’Connor expressed a strong belief in using his campaign to work at a new method of gathering and representing the concerns by using dedicated social media in hopes of better connecting candidates and those they are running to represent.
Though he did not expect a victory in the election, O’Connor did express that he felt support from Whitby as he approached voters whenever he went door-to-door, saying, “every vote matters. If I get 22 votes, that’s 22 victories. No independent does that well without some major reputation going in.” He added that, though he did not support any party or candidate, he believed that a Conservative candidate was the most likely to win the Whitby riding.
O’Connor’s campaign ran primarily out of his own pocket, running up $7,000 from personal costs and lost wages, and $2,000 more from fundraisers and donations.
Liberal candidate Celina Caesar-Chavannes took the federal election with a final vote count of 28,785, a 2,000-vote lead ahead of the Conservative candidate Pat Perkins. This election saw Whitby’s highest turnout, bringing out nearly 65,000 voters, nearly 70 per cent of the city’s 90,000 registered voters.
Despite the results, the air of Whitby’s Dundas Tavern was filled with the celebration of O’Connor, his supporters, and those who helped put together his campaign. When asked if he would consider running again in the next federal election, O’Connor responded, “We’re considering it. I think there’s a lot that needs to be done to address Whitby’s concerns, so we’ll see how they [election winner] will do.”