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Canadians Divided Between Election And Blue Jays

10/19/2015 08:56 EDT | Updated 10/20/2015 12:59 EDT
Steve Russell via Getty Images
TORONTO, ON- AUGUST 31 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper talks with Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and Buck Martinez during batting practice before theToronto Blue Jays play the Cleveland Indians at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. August 31, 2015. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

TORONTO — A tiny slice of the Canadian electorate gathered at a long-time political bar in west-end Toronto on Monday and all anyone really wanted to discuss was baseball.

The stars aligned to change an otherwise dull night into a blue moon with a Blue Jays playoff game playing out alongside the federal election.

"This is a perfect night for any bar," said Gwyn Williams, one of the owners of The Longest Yard, "because people in bars really only talk about three things: sports, politics and sex."

"People endlessly argue about politics and sports, but — stay with me here — they are the same. Someone wins, someone loses and it's almost always because one made a mistake that the other took the advantage of."

Williams said he was talking to his staff and co-owner, Debra DeMonte, about which audio they'd broadcast at the bar given their TVs were tuned into both the baseball game and results of the federal election.

"No-brainer," Williams said. "The ball game."

DeMonte said they have been broadcasting election nights — federal, provincial and municipal — since 2000. It all started with the fiery debate, oddly enough, over the infamous U.S. presidential election that year, when there was no clear winner following the epic showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

"That's when we decided we should make a night of elections," he said.

Despite that, Game 3 of the ALCS series between the Jays and the Kansas City Royals dominated most of the televisions at the bar _ although there were a few showing early election results from Atlantic Canada that suggested the Liberals were headed for a majority government.

"The campaign has been really interesting ...oh my God," said Jerry Ormiston, trailing off as he took in yet another athletic catch by Blue Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar.

"Did you see that play? I'm sorry, what was I talking about? Sorry, the election. Did you see that play? Yeah, I don't really want Stephen Harper to win. But, I'm sorry again, that was a helluva play."

At 9:30 p.m, the bar changed the audio to the election coverage, when networks called a Liberal government. There were muted cheers from the Liberal party supporters.

One supporter, Teri Muszak — who emphasized she voted based on policy and was not a diehard Justin Trudeau fan — was conflicted about the result.

"I'm a bit scared," she said. "I was expecting a minority, so I'm not sure what to say. Let's hope Justin does what he says he's going to do."

She was more upset, though, at the audio, which by 10 p.m. had switched back to the baseball game.

DeMonte said she'd been at odds with the bar's manager over the audio, finally putting her foot down when the CBC declared Trudeau's government would win a majority.

Natalie Evans, seated at the table next to Muszak, was disappointed in the NDP's showing.

"What I'm really worried about is not having a strong opposition voice," she said. "I really wish it was closer."

Neither Muszak nor Evans were big Jays fans, but that did make conversation easier at a bar with supporters from all political stripes.

Mike O'Connor said he came down to the bar because it's the only place he knows that showed both the game and the election, which he called the perfect combination for a Monday night.

"This could lessen the blow," he said with the Jays up big over the Royals as the Liberals bested his favoured Conservatives.

Later, after Blue Jays infielder Ryan Goins hit a home run, O'Connor muttered: "I needed that."

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