Prime Minister Announces November Byelections
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced three federal byelections to be held on November 29, 2010. The elections will fill three vacant ridings in Manitoba and Ontario. Byelections are a very interesting thing to watch. Unlike general elections, where the outcome of a riding can impact who forms the government, none of these ridings will have any determination on who is Prime Minister. In this respect, voters are far more willing to take risks and express support (or lack there of) for another party.
Pundits also use byelections to gauge voter sympathies towards the incumbent government. Sometimes this is a fair assessment of government performance and other times it is not. Of course, the party holding the seat prior to the byelection is always expected to retain it. A win by any other party is always a victory. The interesting situation with these elections is that one riding was previously held by the Liberals, one by the Conservatives and the other by the NDP. Additionally, in each case the incumbent left in order to pursue a bid to become mayor of their respective city or town.
The byelection in Ontario is in the riding of Vaughn. This seat has been held by the Liberals for 22 years. Incumbent Maurizio Bevilacqua vacated to run for mayor of Vaughn. In this instance, a Liberal loss would be devastating to the party. It would be yet another blow to Michael Ignatieff, whose stock has been sinking as of late. The Conservatives have a strong candidate in former Toronto Police Chief and Ontario Provincial Police commissioner Julian Fantino. While controversial, he has the tough background on crime which Harper and the Conservatives love. The Liberal candidate in the riding is Tony Genco, while the NDP have selected Kevin Bordia.
In Manitoba, the riding of Winnipeg North required a new member of parliament after NDP incumbent Judy Wasylycia-Leis resigned to run for mayor of Winnipeg. The riding is an NDP stronghold. It will likely remain that way, and a win by either the Conservatives or Liberals would be an upset. Kevin Chief will contest the riding for the NDP, Julie Javier is the Conservative challenger and MLA Kevin Lamoureux is in it for the Liberals.
Lastly, in Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, Conservative incumbent Inky Mark resigned to run for mayor of Dauphin. In this race, the Conservatives will be hurt by a loss. Robert Sopuk will be that party’s candidate for the seat. The Liberals and NDP meanwhile are still in the process of naming candidates.
The races will be interesting to watch. Of course the riding to keep an eye on will be in Vaughn, Ontario (shocking, right). The Conservatives and Liberals are both clamouring for as many seats in Ontario as possible, and support there is essential, paramount, critical, pivotal, vital (get the idea) for forming a government. Incumbency is very beneficial when it comes to general elections, so whoever picks up the seat will have an advantage for the next nationwide contest. Watch for the parties to throw all they have into that riding in an attempt to win it. The other two ridings, while still important, will not see the attention that Vaughn does.
The bottom line, for the parties is as such. For the Conservatives, a win in one riding will be mediocre, a win in two a success. The Liberals need to win in one, otherwise Michael Ignatieff’s days as leader could be ending sooner rather than later. The NDP should bank on one win to hold together what little support they seem to have left these days. And what about the Greens? Unfortunately, I don’t think they have much of a chance in any of these ridings, especially the ones in Manitoba. The riding in Vaughn is their best shot, and a win there, while unlikely, would be off the charts. Elizabeth May would have no trouble arguing for a spot at the leaders debates after that!