Meet the 1st federal candidate in Canadian history to lose an election with zero votes

For most people, receiving the fewest votes in an election would be devastating.

Most people aren't Félix-Antoine Hamel, who achieved a first in Canadian electoral history on Monday: he received no votes at all in a contested riding.

Hamel was one of a few dozen independent candidates in Toronto-St. Paul's who put their names forward to protest Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, making the ballot the longest one in federal electoral history. The 45-year-old musician from Montreal said he wasn't surprised by his poor showing.

"When I saw the result, I was like, 'Well, I am the true unity candidate. Everyone agrees not to vote for me,'" Hamel told CBC News.

Hamel is the only federal candidate since Confederation ever to receive zero votes in a contested riding.

Hundreds of past candidates received no votes, according to a Library of Parliament database. But in those cases, the candidates still won their seats because they ran unopposed. The last such acclaimed seat was won in a 1957 byelection in Lanark, Ont.

Hamel said he put his name forward as a candidate after his friend — who works with the electoral reform advocacy group called the Longest Ballot Committee — approached him.

He said he wasn't expecting to make a mark in the history books and chuckled at the suggestion that his name could become an an obscure answer to a pub trivia night question.

"I'm one of the last people that would be expected to make Canadian history in any way," he said.

Most independent candidates do win some support and, at the very least, will vote for themselves. (Six candidates have received only one vote in the past, according to the Library of Parliament).

Hamel couldn't even cast a ballot in Toronto-St. Paul's — he doesn't live there. He also admits he put almost no effort into campaigning. He cited former NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who won a seat in Quebec in 2011 — the year of former party leader Jack Layton's "Orange Wave" — despite having never set foot in the riding.

"Anything could happen … It's our democracy, that's how it works and it can be sometimes totally absurd," he said.

Despite his poor showing, Hamel said he was glad to raise awareness about electoral reform. He also said he was glad to take part in a fair democratic process, adding that he's concerned about the deterioration of democracies in other parts of the world.

"As long as I have the right and the privilege to get zero votes in an election, then we are truly in a democracy," he said.